Here are some of my film choices in honor of Valentine's Day. I'm not one for super cheesy, sappy love stories, but instead prefer a darker, more honest portrayal. These films are great to watch whether you're married, in a new relationship or single. I, of course, had to include some films by some of my favorite filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Jean-Luc Godard, Kar Wai Wong, P.T. Anderson and David Lynch.
"Moonrise Kingdom" (2012)
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Jared Gilman, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand,
A sweet, whimsical, poignant love story set in the summer of 1965 in New England. It's about two twelve year olds, Sam and Suzy, who fall in love, make a secret pact, and runaway into the wilderness together.
Quote: "We're in love. We just want to be together. What's wrong with that?"
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966)
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis
This is a dark comedy/drama that takes place at a small New England college. The film stars real life couple Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as the associate history professor George and his alcoholic wife, Martha, who happens to be the daughter of the university's president, playing out their volatile relationship. Martha invites a new, young couple over for drinks. Admist the heavy drinking, George and Martha start pushing each other's buttons and taking heavy jabs at one another. The stakes in their bitter charade raise higher and higher and the young couple gets pushed more and more into it. It's so brilliantly acted. I think Elizabeth Taylor gives the best performance of her career.
Quote: "I hope that was an empty bottle, George! You can't afford to waste good liquor, not on YOUR salary!"
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg
A lovely french new wave film written by Francois Truffaut, and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The film follows petty thief Michael Poiccard who's making money by stealing cars and driving to Paris to resell them. Things start to go awry when he is pulled over by a motorcycle policeman and shoots him dead. Back in Paris he looks up an American friend, Patricia, an aspiring journalist, who hawks the New York Herald Tribune down Champs Elysees. Things heat up between them, and when Patricia learns about Michael's crime, she makes a heartfelt decision.
Quote: "There's no need to lie. It's like poker. The truth is best. The others still think you're bluffing, so you win."
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004)
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Jim Carey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Kristen Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, David Cross
Joel is a withdrawn, emotionally handicapped man and Clementine is a dysfunctional free spirit. They're inexplicably attracted to each other despite their opposing personalities. After a rough breakup, Clementine has her memories of Joel erased. After finding out, Joel decides to also have his memories erased. During the procedure he has second thoughts and wants to remember their memories together. A lot of the film takes place in Joel's mind, as he tries to hide Clementine in numerous other memories. Despite their memory loss, they find each other on the same train and are once again drawn toward one another. It's an unusual story tinged with rich tragedy and a healthy dose of neurosis.
Quote: "I could die right now, Clem. I'm just...happy. I've never felt that before. I'm exactly where I want to be."
"Happy Together" (1997)
Director: Kar Wai Wong
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Chen Chang
Wong Kar Wai is one of my favorite directors, he always manages to capture the honesty and magic of love. In this is gorgeous, harrowing film it's the love of Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing, two gay lovers in Argentina from Hong Kong for a holiday. Their relationship makes a bitter turn and goes adrift. Yiu-Fai, disillusioned gets a job working in a tango bar to save up for his trip home. When a badly beaten Po-Wing reappears, Yiu-Fai finds he can't help but be empathetic, but tries not to let the relationship become more intimate. Yiu-Fai gets another job in a Chinese restaurant where he meet a youthful guy from Taiwan. As Yiu-Fai's life improves, Po-Wing's life continually shatters.
Quote: "Turns out that lonely people are all the same."
"Harold and Maude" (1971)
Director: Hal Ashby
Cast: Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort
Young, rich and obsessed with death, Harold, 19, torments his mother by elaborately staging fake suicides. Harold meets Maude, 79, at a funeral and the two form a bond. Maude teaches Harold about the sensuality of music, art and living however you please from one moment to the next. Their relationship turns sexual, and upon Maude's 80th birthday she reveals she has drank poison and will be dead at midnight. She tells him 80 is a proper age to die. Harold struggles with following her into death or living in the way Maude taught him. It's quirky, darkly humorous and an established cult classic.
Quote: "Vice, virtue. It's best not be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you're bouncy to live life fully."
"Punch-Drunk Love" (2002)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Barry Egan is a shy, sad-sack with a great deal of repressed anger that occasionally bursts forth in sudden, violent outrages. He falls for Lena Leonard, a co-worker of one of his seven sisters. Barry calls a phone-sex line out of loneliness. Lena leaves for Hawaii on a business trip and Barry decides to follow her. Lena is pleasantly surprised to see him, and their relationship blossoms. Upon returning home, he is extorted by Dean Trumbell, over the sex-hotline, who eventually sends four goons to assault Barry to get the money. Lena is mildly injured and Barry decides to get Dean back and begs Lena to forgive him.
Quote: "I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine."
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Murphy, Meryl Streep
Isaac Davis is a TV comedy writer sick of the crap he is forced to churn out and harboring dreams of being a great novelist. He is tormented by his ex-wife, turned lesbian who has written a tell-all book of their marriage. He is dating a 17 year old, who he refuses to commit, and constantly hints that their breakup is imminent. Isaac's disillusioned married best friend Yale, had begun an affair with cerebral writer Mary. While Isaac decides to quit his job and devote his time to writing a book, Yale is crippled by his lack of resolve, unable to leave his wife. Meanwhile Isaac and Mary begin to fall for each other.
Quote: "They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism."
"Wild at Heart" (1990)
Director: David Lynch
Cast: Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Crispin Clover, Isabella Rossellini
Sailor is a violent ex-convict with an Elvis obsession who falls in love with Lila, the daughter of a rich, mentally unstable, Southern belle named Marrietta. When Sailor is released from prison for brutally killing one of Marrietta's thugs, he and Lula take off on a wild cross-country trip. He is pursued by his parole officer, Marrietta, criminals, bounty hunters and detectives. On the way, Lula and Sailor have a lot of sex, share their pasts, their love of Elvis and The Wizard of Oz, meet an array of bizarre characters including a seedy ex-marine, who convinces Sailor to help out in a bank robbery.
Quote: "She turns over, peels off them orange pants, spreads her legs real wide and says to me..."Take a bit of Peach.""
Happy Almost Valentine's Day!