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Dysfunctional uncles and luminous oncology

J. Harry Caufield

I've been trying to remember a particular film all afternoon and was totally stumped about it. I knew it was from the 90's and involved someone dying of cancer, but beyond that, all I could remember was finding it inordinately sad -- a real heartstring-gripping jerker-of-tears. I remembered that and the keywords "Jewish packrat uncle." Those three words were enough for Google identify the film: 1995's Unstrung Heroes. This was a validating result as I had already tried searching for "Unsung Heroes", though this is actually a North Korean spy film series and an unrelated short mockumentary about superheroes.

Andie McDowell looks awfully cheery on that movie cover for somebody dying of cancer. Franz Lidz, whose memoir was the distant base material for Unstrung Heroes, later wrote about the subject, finding that "...the terminal sappiness of cancer movies is probably beyond remedy."