Valentines Day

Hey everyone, it’s that time of year…the anniversary of amore, the traditional heart throbbing, the celebration of sweetness. It’s time for the ol’ VD!

Venereal Disease

No, not that kind of VD! Valentines Day! Although, one can lead to the other. Be safe…always use protection.

So Valentines Day is tomorrow, and by now everyone is scrambling to buy their significant other flowers, chocolates, and other materialistic expressions of their mutual affection. A cynical person who, oh…I don’t know…hasn’t had a girlfriend for years might say that Valentines Day is a con thought up by card companies to exploit the neuro-chemical phenomenas experienced by people entering into the biological ceremony of procreation. A positive individual, on the other hand, might simply say “dawww, wurv is so wurvley!”

Well, I’ll have you know that I am not the cynic! At least not entirely, but I’m not the drooling fool either. I understand the appeal of love, and I’ve even felt it tearing on my heartstrings plenty of times before. Still…buying your girlfriend chocolates and flowers? Dude, how lame are you? Don’t do what everyone else does…it’s so…plain. I once cooked whale meat for a girl I loved, try beating that! Of course she wasn’t my girlfriend at the time, nor any time after. Hmm, I wonder why. Anyways, that’s a story for another time.

I’ve never actually spent Valentines Day with a significant other because none of my relationships have ever lasted long enough to enter February, but as a daydreamer I often wonder what I would do. What would I provide for my girlfriend on such a special occasion?

Sex

Oh calm that filthy mind of yours. Yes, the day of love itself can’t end without a passionate physical session of it – but before that…what do we do to get in the mood? Watch a romantic movie! Most people opt for the classic Rom-Com, awesome people go for a Zom-Rom-Com, and the absolute cream-of-the-crop moviegoers reach high up on the shelf for something even more…special.

So right here, on these grey pages of mine, I’m going to colourfully recommend to you the two movies that I would choose to watch with my imaginary spouse on the day of love. These are my two favourite romantic movies. If you haven’t seen them, maybe it’s about time you give em’ a go.

Cinema-Rant's Valentines Duet

Now don’t worry, I’m not going to go all sub-textually out-of-the-box on you. I’m not going to recommend movies like Fight Club, Top Gun, or Heavenly Creatures because of their homoromantic undertones. These will be romantic films in largely the traditional sense of that word. We’re sticking to the conservative Shakespearian ‘boy-meets-girl’ notion of romance.

If you’re looking for a wacky slapstick laugh-out-loud comedy with a warm adorable ending that simply ticks the boxes, but does so admorably well, then get hold of a brilliant little Canadian film called Just Friends. It’s smart, witty, very funny, and ultimately quite sweet. Plus…it has Ryan Reynolds in it. Ryan Reynolds in a good movie is an unfortunately rare thing that needs to be supported. But that’s an aside note…

The first film I want to talk about follows the typical structure of a Rom-Com, but substitutes the typically broad elements for something much smarter…

Chasing Amy

The poster for Chasing Amy makes it look really generic when it’s actually anything but. It seems to imply that the four males pictured at the bottom are all in love with the same girl, Amy…wrong! In fact the girls name isn’t even Amy…so now you’re totally confused, right? IMDB will help you…

Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee) are comic book artists. Everything’s going good for them until they meet Alyssa, also a comic book artist. Holden falls for her, but his hopes are crushed when he finds out she’s a lesbian.

– IMDB

We’ve all heard of being ‘friend-zoned’, and wonder what could possibly be worse. Well, your crush having a different sexual orientation than you seems to be the answer. I can’t even begin to imagine the internal hell that Ben Affleck’s character goes through in this film, knowing that he can literally never be with the woman he loves. I mean, I’ve had unrequited love before, but I’ve never had totally impossible love.

This movie is described by most critics as a ‘sex comedy’, and sex is certainly the favourite subject matter of all the main characters. Still, those wouldn’t me my chosen words if I was trying to accurately represent the atmosphere of Chasing Amy. It’s directed by Kevin Smith, of Clerks and Mallrats, so you’re not getting a typical Love Actually‘esque romantic fling here. It’s actually full of deep perspective-revealing dialogue around the differences between love and sex. Where does sex and sexual orientation fit into a relationship, how does it change it? Is it possible for someone to love someone of the same gender and not be gay? Similarly, is it possible for someone to love someone of the opposite gender and maintain that they’re a homosexual? What defines straight and gay? What defines love, what defines sex, and ultimately where is the line between being friends and being lovers?

So I guess you could say that Chasing Amy is more of a philosophical romantically oriented sex comedy. Still no comprende?

Perhaps the trailer will do a better job of explaining it…

Wow, so the trailer completely removes all mention of the fact that she’s a lesbian. I’m sure it was an interesting marketing hook at the time, and I’m sorry if you feel like I spoiled something big, but to be honest you can’t plug this film into google without having that element ruined…so too bad so sad. It’s not even really a spoiler, since we find out within the first 30 minutes. The rest of Chasing Amy centeres around Holden struggling to manage his feelings, and that’s where it ends up being better than almost all other so called “romantic films” out there.

What?

Oh, Ben, don’t stroke your hair and waft your “what?” at me. Look, here’s the deal…

Love is nice…but it’s also shitty. I imagine everyone reading this has experienced both ends of the rifle when it comes to relationships. A traditional romantic comedy, for lack of a better simile, is like emotional porn. It does what you need it to do. Two characters fall in love in the first act, have a couple little fights during the end of the second one, and then hook up spectacularly by the end of the third. The shaky bit in the middle is worrisome, but it’s nothing that a little heartfelt speech can’t fix. Boring! I want a movie about a relationship to actually make me feel like I’m watching a relationship. Not in a creepy way, just in a believable way. Holden and Alyssa’s up-and-down friendship is something that I can really identify with on multiple levels, and I think many of you will too.

“So, wait…You still didn’t say why it was called Chasing Amy.” Oh, didn’t I? Hmm…I guess you’ll just have to watch it if you want to know. For now, it’s on to the other half of this lovely duo…

Punch Drunk Love

795 words ago I told you that I wasn’t going to pick anything that was ‘out-of-the-box’. Punch-Drunk Love isn’t ‘out-of-the-box’, but it’s definitely pressing up against the lid. It’s very very hard for me to describe this movie to you, and IMDB really doesn’t help.

A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged into a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

– IMDB

See? Right now there’s a neurological current warping its way through your brain that will ultimately form the words “what in the world?”. I know, believe me I know, when I first read the synopsis I thought the same. I’ll try to break it down for you:

Adam Sandler plays Barry Egan. Barry Egan is a strange man with weird mannerisms and even weirder ideas. He most likely has asperger syndrome, autism, or something similar. He doesn’t connect emotionally with others the way the rest of us do, finding the world to be a big, loud, and scary place. However, he also has a hidden secret. Inside him he has a hulk-like violent rage, which reveals itself occasionally in a damaging an disorganised manner when he feels threatened. One day a dodgy crook, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and his gang of thugs begin to blackmail him for utilising their sex hot-line, continually exploiting his fragile psychological state. That is…until Barry falls in love, and finds it to be the help he needs in order to channel his emotions.

It occurred to me that the character of Barry Egan is a lot like Punch-Drunk Love itself; if you can get past the quirkiness of it…it’s absolutely adorable underneath. The director, Paul Thomas Anderson, is such an brilliant artistic genius that I would never have though he’d make a romantic comedy. It just didn’t seem to be his style, but alas all the greatest writer-directors ultimately prove their quality with one thing; versatility.

I remember watching this movie and not quite getting it for a long time. Sandler’s character is so cold for the first half of the movie that it almost makes you want to turn the film off. Please refrain from doing that! Everything is redeemed, and then some, in the second half. There’s been a lot of analysis of Punch-Drunk Love since it came out. Everything from the simplified colour palette to the disjointed soundtrack has been dissected and inspected for symbolism by various cinephiles and film-critics. There’s a lot to discuss, but to me…this movie is an unauthorised and personalised remake of a famous cartoon.

Just watch the movie, and think about it.

Oki doki, there you go! You now have two superb choices (if I do say so myself) for romantic movies you can watch with your spouse. I apologise in advance if you don’t like them…but…you still have a girlfriend or boyfriend. That’s more than a lot of other people can say. And on that bittersweet note, have a lovely Valentines Day.

– Rant Over!

3 thoughts on “Valentines Day

  1. Pingback: Philip Seymour Hoffman | Cinema Rant

  2. Pingback: Master Anderson | Cinema Rant

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