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Valentine’s Day Movie Picks: For Lovers and Haters

Written by on February 11, 2011 

Valentine’s Day is the time to show that special someone how much you care by lavishing them with gifts! OR it’s that irksome time of year where every business exploits the promise of love and romance to sell you candy, flowers, jewelry, and bow tie-wearing bears. This holiday is at once a day of sincerity and cynicism.

It’s truly a magical time.

No matter which side of the Vday divide you fall, we’ve got some choice movie picks whether you’re a love lover or a holiday hater.

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For Those Who Love Love

Want something sweet to screen this Valentine’s Day?

Here’s a list of spectacular flicks that prove once and for all that love conquers all!

Love Actually {2003}

Rom-com master Richard Curtis’ Christmas-set ensemble piece weaves together various feel-good tales (for the most part) that reveal the various ways of love. Full of beloved actors, snappy dialogue, and heartwarming moments, this one is a guaranteed good time.

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(500) Days of Summer {2009}

For those who like a little bitter with their sweet, this indie darling unravels a chronologically tangled tale of love, heartbreak and (SPOILER ALERT) meeting the one. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, this quirky rom-com is full of great music and playfully retro set-pieces.

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Beauty and the Beast {1991}

Want something that tickles your reminiscent yen minus the bittersweet finish? Go full-on Disney with the first animated feature to ever earn a Best Picture nod at the Oscars. It has all the songs you loved as a kid and holds up beautifully with ambitious animation, colorful characters, and one of the best renderings of a brewing affection presented on film. This unlikely duo’s meet-cute was a hostage situation, their turning point involved wolves, and yet the romance montage is not just charming but also believable. It’s hard not to fall in love all over again with this classic cartoon.

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The Apartment {1960}

Billy Wilder’s classic comedy-noir centers on an up-and-coming executive (played by a young and dapper Jack Lemmon) whose rise up the corporate ladder hits a snag when he falls for a lovely elevator operator (the ever-sassy Shirley MacLaine). If you’ve somehow missed out on seeing this widely acclaimed tale of love, make this Valentine’s Day your excuse. Full of heart and the best of Wilder’s witty banter, this flick is hard to beat. A clever accompaniment for an at-home dinner date – make spaghetti using a tennis racket as a strainer.

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The Princess Bride {1987}

Rob Reiner’s beloved fairy tale has a charming love story and so much more: pirates, princesses, giants, R.O.U.S.es, a six-fingered villain, and a pre-Wonder Years Fred Savage! To want more from a Valentine’s Day feature is inconceivable!

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Secretary {2002}

Okay, to be totally honest – there is one thing The Princess Bride doesn’t have: sex. If you’re looking for something more salacious, try Maggie Gyllenhaal’s racy ode to BDSM-imbrued romance. Gyllenhaal plays an introverted young woman who comes out of her shell when her boss’s domineering behavior opens her up to a different side of desire.

WARNING: May be a bit intense for a first date.

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The Fifth Element {1997}

For those who’d like a healthy dose of sci-fi action with their romance, Luc Besson’s super sleek thriller stars repeat world-saver, Bruce Willis, as a jaded cab driver whose joins a quest to save the world after a beautiful and mysterious girl (Milla Jovovich) literally crashes into his life. Full of fun and crazy characters, this tale of love is the most action-packed of the bunch.

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Amelie {2001}

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s iconically whimsical tale of romance centers on the ultimate ingénue (played by the ever-charming Audrey Tautou) as she makes her way through a fantastical Paris full of colorful characters in a roundabout journey to love.

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Priceless {2006}

For a Tautou double-feature, pair Amelie with this sexy rom-com, in which the smiling gamine plays a hooker with a heart of gold. In this mistaken identities tale, Tautou seduces a bartender (Gad Elmaleh) she mistakes for a playboy. He falls for her, and antics ensue when he tries to beat her at her own game!

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Les Girls {1957}

You want some whimsy minus the subtitles? Try this colorful offering from the great song and dance man, Gene Kelly! Les Girls is Rashomon meets MGM musical when a disbanded dance troupe reunites to hash out the events that led to the end of their act. Full of flashbacks and Cole Porter music, this one ia as gleeful as it is luridly enchanting.

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For Those Who Hate Love

You know love can be brutal.

Here’s a selection of films that boldly expose love’s dark underbelly.

 

Blue Valentine {2010}

This raw and provocative divorce drama alternates scenes of young love in bloom with depictions of its wretched and cringe-worthy decay. Reports are coming in from all over of dates gone awry because of the inclusion of this flick’s troubling take on love. Bitterness, resentment, blame – Blue Valentine’s got it all.

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Audition {1999}

This chilling horror movie centers on a man who holds a casting call to find a new wife. He soon finds an eager young woman who wants nothing the promise of all his love! All of it. Nothing short is acceptable and breaking that promise yields gruesome consequences.

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Fatal Attraction {1987}

This moralistic thriller has spooked many married men with wandering eyes. Michael Douglas plays a family man who screws, then screws over Glenn Close, when a sexy frolic in an elevator leads to a spurned and homicidally-driven mistress. As Close’s iconic embodiment of rage famously fumes him, “I’m not gonna be ignored!” For extra fun, pair this with some rabbit stew.

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Old Boy {2003}

This South Korean thriller unravels a deeply disturbing revenge tale that touches on some major taboos. In Chan-wook Park’s second entry in his vengeance trilogy, a man is abruptly kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years without being told why. When he gets out, his quest for answers leads him to some truly harrowing revelations.

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Crazy Love {2007}

This disturbing doc unveils the troublesome and true story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach, a couple whose low point is the day Pugach hired thugs to throw lye in Riss’s face. Crazy Love won the 2008 Spirit Award for Best Doc, which is well-deserved as filmmakers Dan Klores and Fisher Stevens masterfully unfold this shocking story. This is a film that provides strong evidence that love is not just for lovers, it’s also for the deranged.

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Closer {2004}

Mike Nichols‘ A-list adaptation of Patrick Marber’s scandalous stage play stars Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman. This emotionally draining drama centers on an unwieldy love quadrangle and is filled with sex, rage, and cutting dialogue. This is the feature that made Owen an international star, and deservedly so. His guttural bellow of “Because I’m a fucking caveman!” resonates long after the credits role.

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Notes on a Scandal {2006}

Another film penned by Closer’s Patrick Marber, this masterfully paced thriller centers on a lonely old teacher (played by the always impeccable Dame Judy Dench) who develops an unhealthy obsession with the school’s new art teacher, a fey upper class waif played with Bohemian grace by Cate Blanchett. This tale of obsession and lesbian longing unrolls like a gossip-filled conversation thanks to Dench’s smirkingly omnipotent narration. It’s ultimately as fun as it is unnerving.

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street {2007}

Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation of the grisly yet giddy stage show loses a bit of dark humor in translation, but still is a hell of a good time. In this blood-soaked musical, Johnny Depp plays the demon barber in pursuit of his lost love (his wife and child). And when his rage gives way to murder, murder soon gives way to profits and cannibalism thanks to his equally demented work wife, played by Burton’s real-life love, Helena Bonham Carter.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch {2001}

Maybe you don’t hate the idea of love as much as you loathe the idea that love defines people. If so, try out this transgressive transsexual-driven musical about an East German glam rocker whose desperate search for a perfect love unexpectedly leads to self-discovery. With a kick-ass soundtrack and a campy but heart-breakingly affective cast, this indie darling will have you singing along between fits of laughter.

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That’s it.

Whether you choose to celebrate or not, have a Happy Valentine’s Day from the Film Stage.

What will you be watching this Valentine’s Day?


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