Movies for lovers and haters on Valentine’s Day

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The love list

‘Valentine’s day’ (2010)

Rent it on Amazon prime, google play, Youtube.

Garry Marshall’s romantic feel-good comedy about love and desire features a unique ensemble that includes Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Shirley MacLaine, Jamie Foxx, and the Taylors Swift and Lautner. Yes, the reviews were not stellar. But there is no doubt that the arrow thrower himself would approve of spending an evening watching pretty sexy people of ages, races, and at least two sexual orientations get tangled up in love and finish. (for the most part) happy.



‘Magnet’ (2016)

Broadcast it on Netflix.

Jeff Nichols’ moving biopic tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple who, despite seemingly insurmountable odds, took a landmark case against Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law to the Supreme Court and won. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton give passionate performances as a heroic couple in their struggle and triumph. Yet, as Manohla Dargis wrote in her review of The Times, it was “the utter banality of their love that defined them.”



“Hearts of the Desert” (1986)

Broadcast it on Show time, Criterion channel, Kanopy.

Twenty years before Brokeback Mountain, the American West was the setting for Donna Deitch’s groundbreaking romance of a woman’s lesbian awakening. Set in 1959, the film stars Helen Shaver as a teacher who travels to Reno for a quick divorce before falling in love with a carefree tomboy, played by Patricia Charbonneau. Their love is a sexual touchstone queer cinema. In 2017, Deitch said from his film: “It’s no longer controversial, but it’s still hot, it’s still funny, and it still works.”



‘Her’ (2013)

Rent it on Amazon prime, google play, Youtube.

Does a voice have a soul? Do machines suck? Does desire need a body? These are some of the thorny questions posed in Spike Jonze’s fantasy film. Joaquin Phoenix portrays a lonely middle-aged man who falls head over heels in love with the sultry female voice, purred by Scarlett Johansson, of his computer’s operating system. The Sexual Politics of the Film did not sit well with some criticism. But for a story about the nature of love and artificial intelligence, “She” is decidedly and whimsical.



‘Pillow talk’ (1959)

Rent it on Amazon prime, google play, Youtube.

Michael Gordon’s classic romantic comedy stars Doris Day as a trendy interior designer who meets a playboy songwriter, played by Rock Hudson, on a telephone line. They’re just voices to each other – like an analog ‘Her’ – until he spots her in a nightclub. That’s when he hatches a plan to woo her by posing as Rex Stetson, an honest breeder. From there, the film sets off on a wacky, witty and so chic journey to love. Thelma Ritter and Tony Randall are great in supporting roles.





The hate list

“Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)

Rent it on Amazon prime, google play, Seen, Youtube.

Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep give heartbreaking performances in this family drama about the emotional costs of decoupling. Robert Benton’s Oscar-winning film is a great hate movie for children of divorce, especially Generation X kids, who grew up learning the hard way that happiness forever was bullshit to begin with. This one is a real heartbreaking one: Credit goes to Justin Henry, who was only 8 when he got an Oscar nomination for play a son torn between parental allegiances.



‘Fatal attraction’ (1987)

Broadcast it on peacock.

Her scary smoky eye. This poor bunny. A jump fear final as if it was “Friday the 13th”. These are just a few of the memorable takeaways from Adrian Lyne’s psychological thriller starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close as two people whose scorching but unhappy affair triggers a one-way ticket to straight hell. This erotic fireball from a movie was a box office success despite – or perhaps thanks to – its portrayal of men as selfish pigs and women as deranged stalkers. It’s a salacious and camp warning story.



‘Lobster’ (2015)

Broadcast it on Kanopy, Fubo; rent it on Amazon prime, google play.

Relationships come with claws in this dystopian love story directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, a master of cruel fairy tales. Colin Farrell plays a man who checks into a strange hotel where people have 45 days to find love before transforming into the animal of their choice. But why does the hotel offer training target? And who are the sex revolutionaries in the woods? Like that hot but disastrous ex-boyfriend, this one is creepy, sinister, supernatural, and rebellious.



‘X-ray’ (nineteen eighty one)

Broadcast it on Amazon prime.

(aka “Hospital Massacre” and “Be My Valentine… or Else!”)

“My dear love” stay on no longer ultra valentine horror movies. But Boaz Davidson’s slasher flick, starring the regular “Hee-Haw” and the Playboy cover girl Barbi benton, is a much more twisted alternative. It takes place in a sketchy hospital turned insane asylum, where a young mother (Benton) is harassed by a masked killer whose Valentine’s affection she once despised. Now he’s literally after his heart. This one’s for fans of the macabre who thinks a head in a box makes a great gift.

‘Blue Valentine’ (2010)

Broadcast it on HBO Max.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are deeply moving in Derek Cianfrance’s hard-hitting film about the birth and death of a marriage. As the film jumps back in time, a hopeful romance crumbles until the words “I can’t do this anymore” almost become too much to bear. More than any other movie on this list, “Blue Valentine” is best watched for a cathartic cry of hatred. It’s as enchanting and beautifully composed as it is agonizing.




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