Ah, Valentine’s Day. That special time of year when pop culture and greeting card companies conspire to make the lovelorn among us feel even worse about ourselves. Hollywood cranks out romantic comedies with happy endings by the truckload for people who want to get sappy on V-Day but what films for those of us who maybe aren’t so lucky in love? Those of us in fact who use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to light a bonfire with our ex’s possessions? Consider watching one of the following.
My Bloody Valentine (1981) This Canadian slasher film tells the story of a group of teenagers reinstate the Valentine’s Day dance tradition that’s been suspended for twenty years. See, the last time they had a dance two supervisors from the local mine attended and there was an accident where the sole survivor had to resort to cannibalism. Afterwards, driven mad he killed the supervisors and vowed to resume his attacks if the dance was ever restored. But with that guy now locked up in a mental asylum, surely it’s safe to bring back the dance, right? The original cut was so bloody and gruesome they had to do a massive amount of editing to get the MPAA to rate it R. It received mixed reviews when it was first released, but would later become heralded as a guilty pleasure/cult classic and indeed even inspired a remake in 2009.
What’s Love Got to Do With It? (1993) Brian Gibson (The Juror, Kilroy Was Here) directed this biographical tale loosely based on the story of Ike (Laurence Fishburne) and Tina (Angela Bassett) Turner whose marriage was famous not only as a musical partnership, but even more so as case example in domestic violence. Both Bassett and Fishburne were nominated for Academy Awards and Bassett won both a Golden Globe and a NAACP Image Award.
Closer (2004) Adapted from the stage play by the same name Closer features four attractive and troubled individuals: Anna (Julia Roberts), Dan (Jude Law), Alice (Natalie Portman), and Larry (Clive Owen who’d previously played Dan in the stage version). Their resultant love triangles, intrigues and sexual shenanigans are anything but romantic. Owen won both a BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor while Natalie Portman won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
500 Days of Summer (2009) Director Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man) made his directorial debut with this romantic-comedy-drama employing a non-linear narrative as Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) relives his failed relationship with supposed ‘dream girl’ Summer (Zooey Deschanel). It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, received Best Original Screenplay and Best Screenplay from the Satellite Awards and Spirit Awards, and helped make Gordon-Levitt something of a romantic heartthrob among young women – despite the fact he didn’t get the girl.
Blue Valentine (2010) The name says it all. Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines) wrote and directed this devastating drama. Married couple Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are a married couple whose relationship has hit the skids. The film alternates between scenes of initial courtship five years earlier and the current dissolution of their marriage. Both Gosling and Williams were nominated for Golden Globe Awards. Williams was also nominated for an Academy Award and Cianfrance received the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker.
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