I am not going to take a stance on Valentine's Day here. Celebration of love? Hallmark holiday? The root of all evil? Sure. All of the above. I can say one thing though - it's a good movie holiday, if for no other reason than you don't typically have familial obligations cluttering the day. But people often get lazy. Hopeless romantics, are you really going to watch Casablanca again? Cynics, haven't you burned a hole in the anti-romantic movie of your choosing? Whether your day is going to be filled with chocolates and roses or sulking, at least do yourself the favor of checking out a different flick that satisfies your V-Day needs.
You: In a new relationship
Your movie: any of the Katharine Hepburn / Spencer Tracy romantic comedies, such as Adam's Rib
Why: So you have a new relationship, and it's going well, but you don't want to freak out your significant other with movies about marriage or passionate love or crazy sex. Tracy and Hepburn have a totally PG but adorable dynamic that resembles what's good about new love - you kid each other constantly, but have a massive crush on the other person.
You: In a long-standing relationship
Your movie: The Big Sleep or To Have and Have Not
Why: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall created unbelievable sparks on screen that amazingly slipped past the censors. At this stage in the game, your puppy love has (typically) given way to hot, sexy passion, which is no short supply in these Bogie/Bacall pairings. You could even make it a double feature, and treat yourself to a night of classic lines like, "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together...and blow."
You: In a long-distance relationship
Your movie: A Very Long Engagement
Why: Did you like Amelie? Well, this film has the same director, actress, and feel, but takes place around WWI and features Mathilde (Audrey Tatou) searching for her fiancee who allegedly died in the trenches. The script and visuals are great, and the film is a testament to the power of love. Look for the random Jodie Foster cameo!
You: In a rocky relationship
Your movie: Gone With The Wind
Why: For a movie that's supposed to be one of the greatest romances committed to celluloid, has anyone noticed that Rhett and Scarlett just fight the whole time? Their feelings for the one another never quite align correctly, and between slapping and yelling and not giving damns, it's a pretty rough ride for these two. Maybe your relationship will seem a lot healthier after you watch this one.
You: Trying to get the girl
Your movie: City Lights
Why: Charlie Chaplin's little tramp character was as poignant as he was funny, and never more so than in this 1931 classic where he falls for a blind girl and tries to raise money for a vision-restoring operation by posing as a rich man. As Lifetime-y as that sounds, it's Chaplin, so it's also hilarious.
You: Think women suck
Your movie: Gilda or Double Indemnity
Why: What you need now is proof that you're not the only one who has fallen victim to the lures of a woman. The male leads of these flicks (or many other film noirs) get screwed over by dangerous dames that lead to their downfall. See, it could be worse! Your relationship could have ended up with you in jail or something! Feeling better yet? Maybe?
You: Think men suck
Your movie: Sweet Charity or Chicago
Why: Surely you'll be able to sympathize with poor Charity, who keeps getting gratuitously fucked over by guys. But in the end, she holds her head high. Watch it with a friend and cheer for her. Alternately, you can watch Chicago and revel in its philosophy of "men are pigs, shoot them and get away with it."
You: Are into MILFs.
Your movie: The Graduate
Why: Duh. And afterwards you can find yourself a Valentine on Craigslist (shudder).
You: Are alone because you have limited social skills, obsessive-compulsive tendencies and random outbursts.
Your movie: Punch-Drunk Love
Why: Adam Sandler, in a rare serious role, fits the above description in this film, and finds love. If an antisocial Happy Gilmore can get the girl, then there's hope for you.
You: Not sure you believe in this whole "love" thing.
Your movie: Annie Hall
Why: Modern ruminations on this thing called love, covering everything from lying to seem impressive to a compulsion to smoke pot before sex. No one actually says "I love you" in the film - the closest is Allen's character saying "I lurve you." Mercifully devoid of a Hollywood ending, it has a thoroughly fulfilling one nonetheless.
You: think that your gal pals are what matter most.
Your movie: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Why: Yes, technically it's a heterosexual romance, but the female bonding is the prevalent theme. Marilyn's character pretty much admits at the end that she's marrying her beau for his money. And the gals even have a joint wedding. Aw.
You: In an unconvential relationship (or wanting to be in one)
Your movie: Pumpkin
Why: Christina Ricci plays a sorority girl who falls for a mentally challenged guy. Lifetime movie? After-school special? Nope! Brutally satiric dark comedy (with a heart of gold).
You: a hopeless romantic in theory, but things just never work out.
Your movie: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Why: A 1964 French musical about love in which every word is sung. Sounds overly saccharine, but it actually gets kind of depressing in showing how time and circumstance can take their toll on romance.
You: your relationship is not allowed to flourish due to the prevailing social mores of your time.
Your movie: In the Mood For Love or Splendor in the Grass
Why: In the former, neighbors in 1960s Shanghai find out that their spouses are having an affair, but despite a growing attraction, feel wrong doing the same. In the latter, Natalie Wood goes literally insane in 1920s rural America because it's not socially acceptable for her to shag her boyfriend, played by Warren Beatty. Hey, if I was in such close proximity to 1960s Warren Beatty all the time and couldn't touch him, I'd go nuts too.
You: in an open relationship, or discussing the option of making your relationship open
Your movie: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Why: ORGIES!!! Seriously. This is a movie with Natalie Wood and Elliot Gould and it's about orgies. It pokes fun at the "free love" movement of the 1960s in examining how those principles could realistically be applied within the framework of a marriage. Did I mention it's about orgies?
You: believe that love is a sick, twisted, and disturbing notion.
Your movie: Audition
Why: This Japanese squirmfest will support your thesis wholeheartedly.Additionally functioning as a commentary on gender roles in modern Japan, the film features a widower who stages an "audition" to find a new wife. The girl he picks seems a little odd, but he is still infatuated with her even when her references start to come up questionable. The jaw-dropping ending gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "love hurts."
You: like your romance a little supernatural
Your movie: Il Mare
Why: Remember the movie Sandra Bullock / Keanu Reeves vehicle The Lake House? Yeah. Don't watch that. Instead, watch the Korean film it was based on, which features lush cinematography, love that transcends time and romantic chemistry that surpasses that of two people trying to stop a speeding bus.
You: hot for teacher
Your movie: Rushmore or Notes on a Scandal
Why: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this situation is not going to work out for you. Either the teacher will ignore your advances, or will succumb to them, resulting in tragic consequences for both of you. But hey, these are both terrific movies on that subject that will possibly dissuade you!
You: torn between two or more suitors
Your movie: The Philadelphia Story
Why: If the triple billing of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart doesn't convince you, then the sparkling script and heartwarming message will. Kate learns a few things about herself in the process of choosing between the aforementioned two and yet another fellow. And since the male leads are both pretty famous, there is actual suspense as to which she will choose (not like in The Notebook, where Rachael McAdams was into James Marsden for what, like, four seconds?).
You: girls think of you as a "brother" and then date assholes
Your movie: The Apartment
Why: Jack Lemmon shares your predicament in this classic and refreshingly non-cliche Best Picture winner. Who wouldn't love a man who uses a tennis racket to drain his spaghetti? But will adorable 1960 Shirley MacLaine see the light?
You: into bondage
Your movie: Atame! (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!)
Why: Spanish director (and personal favorite) Pedro Almodovar has always tackled love and sex in unique ways. Here, Antonio Banderas is obsessed with a woman and essentially holds her hostage in her own home, but she kind of starts to like being tied up...
You: the only woman you've ever loved is your mother.
Your movie: Psycho
Why: Because it will serve as a cautionary tale for anyone who loves dear old mum a bit too much. Or you can save this for Mother's Day if you want to cause a stir at the annual family brunch
You: the only person you've ever loved is yourself.
Your movie: Citizen Kane
Why: Another cautionary tale. Who wants to die all alone muttering "Rosebud"?
You: believe in love, but acknowledge that it can be extremely bizarre.
Your movie: Crazy Love
Why: This is a documentary about Burt and Linda Pugach, told in their own words. Burt basically stalked Linda for years, eventually throwing acid in her face, which blinded her. After his release from prison, they got married and remain together to this day. Truth is stranger than fiction, folks.
What are your V-Day favorites?