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February 26th 2017
It's Oscars night tonight, and if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that they'll be making mention of some movies. I mean, it's an award ceremony for people working in movies. Movies will come up. That's what I'm saying. It's a safe bet.
Which leads me nicely into talking about movies. Specifically, crying at movies. Because, you see, I'm a bit of a movie-crier and I'm not ashamed to admit it (well, I'm no more than, say, 25% ashamed). While there are those who are completely unmoved by what they see onscreen - a position that I confess is logical - I am more than ready to be swept along by the story I see before me. While I have no love for the modern term 'ship' ("support or have a particular interest in a romantic pairing between two characters in a fictional series"), it's hard to deny that I fulfil its definition routinely. Essentially, I am vastly more invested in the ballad of Luke & Lorelai than I am in the latest movements in the FTSE. This is a bad example, because I basically have no interest whatsoever in the movement of the FTSE, but I feel that it's the kind of thing that actuaries should care about.
I've seen quite a few of the films up for Oscars this year, and several of them are heavy on poignancy: there is strong emotional acting in La La Land, a beautiful story of overcoming racism and sexism in Hidden Figures, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house (well, not in my seat, anyway) for Hacksaw Ridge, where Andrew Garfield was on form as a conscientious objector. Athough in that last case - despite the rest of the film being excellent - the finale was overplayed to the extent that it felt manipulative, with swelling strings killing real emotion. But the most weepie-ish of the films (I had been told) was Lion, the tale of an Indian boy who goes missing, gets adopted by an Australian family, and many years later tries to relocate his mother and siblings.
I'm not going to say I didn't cry. Of course I did. But I wasn't really affected until the scene at the end of the film where they showed the main character's real life mothers - biological and adoptive - meeting. Similarly, watching Patriots Day recently (about the Boston marathon bombing), the tears didn't begin to fall until they showed a clip of one of the people who had lost a leg due to the bombing; it was a few years later, and he was completing the marathon with a prosthetic leg.
Perhaps truth is just more moving than fiction. Having said that, the most I have ever cried in the cinema was watching the film Room, which starred Brie Larson as a girl kidnapped, raped and locked for years in a shed with her son (the product of that rape). The level of emotion was due not only to the story, but also - more so - to the skills of the actor, director and writer involved. It's a short walk from moving to risible, as you will discover if you watch a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
No rambling on movie-crying is complete without reference to the film that brings tears to all right-thinking people. If you can watch It's A Wonderful Life without a moistening of the eyes, then as far as I'm concerned you've defeated medical science. What a film.

I think I've got something in my eye...



what was I listening to?
Distorted Lullabies - Ours
what was I reading?
How Not To Be Wrong - Jordan Ellenberg
what was I watching?
Dirty Dancing
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