A cheat sheet to cinema’s most cathartic films

Recent films like the edgy, surreal Hirsute, and his latest feature Stress Position, have made an impression on audiences and critics all over the world, earning A.J. Bond a laundry-list of festival and award accolades. So what has he got to cry about? We didn’t want to pry, but we did kinda get it when he said, “sometimes you want to work a little more just to feel something.”

1. Umberto D.

When Umberto’s pension runs out, his cold-hearted landlord evicts him. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, he decides to kill himself. But first, what to do with his beloved Terrier? An old man and his adorable dog; if it wasn’t Italian and from 1952, this film might not have made the list. As charming as it is sad.”

2. Dancer in the Dark

“Just sit back and let Lars von Trier perfectly, almost gleefully, manipulate your emotions with the story of Selma, a Czech immigrant who will go to any length to save her son from her own hereditary fate of blindness. Say what you will about Lars or Björk, who stars as Selma, this singular film will leave you shaking.”

3. Requiem for a Dream

“You have to work just to make it through this story of addiction and broken dreams without giving up on your own life. Visceral, disturbing and stylistically bombastic, ultimately it’s Ellen Burstyn’s heartbreakingly deluded, ‘I’m going to be on TV’ that’ll get you bawling. Oh, and the shock therapy.”

4. Paths of Glory

“Stanley Kubrick is often criticized for being ‘cold’ and ‘heartless,’ but his first masterpiece proves otherwise. The true story of an army colonel pressured to make a deadly example of three soldiers for the crime of cowardice, this potent anti-war film even makes itself cry at the end.”

5. The Elephant Man

“David Lynch’s follow up to the insanity that was Eraserhead is a surprisingly genuine, human portrait of the tortured life of John Merrick. Both the film and a powerful performance by John Hurt feel completely out of time. Happy tears.”

A.J. Bond is a Toronto-based filmmaker. His most recent feature film, the “psychological thriller-comedy” Stress Position, has been making the festival rounds this year, and is now being released in the United States on DVD.



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