For the love of Podunk and grit
I saw two films in the past couple years that really moved me (that's how insecure guys say "made me cry like a baby"). They are:
1. Boys Don't Cry
True story of a girl who was raped and murdered because she tried to live her life as a guy. Ebert calls it a "'Romeo and Juliet' set in a Nebraska trailer park." I think the reason I liked has something to do with my fascination with Podunk, low-income, trailer trash culture. I feel a weird affinity for Po White Trash, perhaps because I spent my very early youth in Oklahoma hanging out with PWTs. (Or maybe I was one.) Once a PWT, always a PWT?
I'm not a big fan of tragedies that try too hard to make you cry, either by excessively focusing on the tragic fate of the protaganist or by leading you by the hand with a tear-jerker violin soundtrack. A good example of the former is Dancer in the Dark. Great songs by Bjork, great acting - by Bjork - and great Dogma film sensibilities. I really love all that stuff, and I really liked the flick, and I really like Bjork, but what's up with the last scene? It's like the director is saying to the audience, "Cry NOW! CRY, DAMMIT, CRY! You're not leaving this theater until you cry!"
*Btw, check out Gling Glo, which has Bjork on vocals before she was a superstar. Viking jazz! "Since it's release in 1990, Gling-Gló has attracted many dedicated fans world-wide. This despite the fact that almost all of its songs were recorded in Icelandic, an undeniably beautiful but largely unknown language. These Icelandic renditions of jazz classics combined Björk's unique vocals with the cool elegance of the Gudmundur Ingólfsson Trio (Gudmundur Ingólfsson on piano, Gudmundur Steingrímsson on drums, and Thórdur Högnason on bass)."
Good luck getting your hands on this one. Presently, it's only being sold to educational institutions. I was lucky enough to see it at the university where I work. Here is a short blurb about this painful but wonderful documentary.
And speaking of PWTs, one of the strangest movies I saw was Gummo, directed by the guy who caused such a stir by writing the screenplay for Kids. You can't get much more PWT than this movie. Most critics panned it. I liked it and am dying to see Julien Donkey-Boy.
Another one in the same gritty vein is What About Me, a no-budget black-and-white cult film about a woman who becomes homeless in New York. Good luck finding this one. I have no idea what it was doing on the shelves of Buster Video in Ebino, Japan. (Ebino is about as Podunk as it gets in Japan.) Surprisingly, the DVD is available on Amazon.