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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Valentine’s Day Watchlist: Movies for rival views on Valentine’s Day

Ten great films to watch, whether you’re celebrating the holiday or cursing it

Every Valentine’s Day, some celebrate the holiday by showing affection for the ones they love. Another group of people finds themselves lonely, polarized and almost spiteful of the former. 

It seems like each time the fourteenth of February rolls around, the holiday causes more division than unity.

So, whether you think love is dead or everywhere, The Eagle has you covered. Here are ten films to watch this Valentine’s Day: five for its fans and five for its critics.

For the lovers:

The Apartment” (1960)

Following his iconic film “Some Like It Hot,” which came out the year before, a legend of Hollywood’s “golden age” Billy Wilder took his filmmaking a step further in 1960, with wittier writing and a much deeper emotional side in “The Apartment.”

Jack Lemmon delivers a phenomenal performance as the lonely Bud Baxter – an insurance clerk working in Manhattan who lends his apartment to executives at his company so they can cheat on their wives. The elaborate situation Bud finds himself in only becomes more complex after he asks an elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine) from the company out. 

Caught in a web of his own and others’ lies and love, Baxter’s story takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. More than 60 years on, “The Apartment” is still a perfect example of a rom-com and is a great film to watch this Valentine’s Day.

“The Apartment” is available to stream on Pluto TV and Tubi.

The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967)

If you’re not a fan of musicals, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” is here to change your mind. This French classic is one of the most enjoyable films ever made. It is bursting with life, filled with color and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Starring the iconic Catherine Deneuve and master of musicals Gene Kelly, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” is about two sisters searching for love. Jacques Demy’s lyrics set to Michel Legrand’s score produce some terrific tracks that shine alongside the film’s phenomenal dance sequences. It’s filled with splendor and joy yet remains grounded through several clever inclusions – the ax murderer subplot being a notable and hilarious little gag.

As a whole, “The Young Girls of Rochefort” is as pleasant a film can get; a perfect pick for your Valentine’s Day viewing.

“The Young Girls of Rochefort” is available to stream on Max.

True Romance” (1993)

A crime-ridden, star-studded and cocaine-fueled love story. 

“True Romance” boasts one of Tarantino’s best scripts, carries two minor but killer performances from legends Gary Oldman and Christopher Walken and has a romance between Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater that you’ll root for against all odds.

Though a little dated now and perhaps lacking in intellectual complexity, “True Romance” will hit every spot a film should. Packed with action, adventure, crime and romance, this is one of the most fun watches you can ask for.

Do yourself a favor and watch “True Romance” this Feb. 14.

“True Romance” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.

In the Mood for Love” (2000)

Few filmmakers can craft as strong a mood as Wong Kar-wai. Known for his heavily stylized, atmospheric films that tackle loneliness and romance, “In the Mood for Love” is where he does it best.

The film is set in 1960s Hong Kong and follows the story of a man (Tony Leung) and a woman (Maggie Cheung) who live in the same apartment building and find out their spouses had an affair with each other. The lead performances from Cheung and Leung are nothing short of stunning; their on-screen chemistry is unmatched by practically all other film couples. 

“In the Mood for Love’s” brilliance stems from its subtlety across all aspects of the cinematic form, yet still makes for an extraordinary watch – and one of the most intimate. Kar-wai evokes sensuality in a way you’ve never seen before. 

If you are in the mood for love this Valentine’s Day, this is the film for you.

“In the Mood for Love” is available to stream on Max.

Amélie” (2001)

Set in the streets of a gorgeously depicted Paris, “Amélie” takes us on the journey of the film’s protagonist (Audrey Tatou) as she sets out on a mission to bring happiness to all those around her.

For those tired of the typical romantic comedies, “Amélie” will feel like a breath of fresh air. The film dispenses a sense of childlike wonder in addition to the moving story of the film’s leading relationship. It is a delightful blend of comedy and romance and is the perfect film to remind you that love is all around us.

Romanticizing life, love and everything in between, you’ll struggle to find a more charming film than this.

“Amélie” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.

For the haters:

Annie Hall” (1977)

“Annie Hall” is a cinematic translation of the post-breakup relationship analysis. 

After Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) break up, this best-picture winner takes us on a deep dive into their relationship. Narrated by Alvy, we see his childhood, his time with Annie and his past relationships all scrutinized in an attempt to gain some form of closure.

“Annie Hall” is driven by a legendary performance from Keaton and Allen’s intelligent script. Not a single scene is wasted as the film shows us the nuances of Alvy and Annie’s love affair. It’s an authentic, relatable and painfully honest depiction of romantic relationships.

For those whose hatred of Valentine’s Day is fuelled by the pain of a recent break-up, “Annie Hall” will make for a most affecting hour and a half.

“Annie Hall” is available to stream on Tubi.

Eraserhead” (1977)

The first film from this list to exit the romance genre, surrealist master David Lynch’s debut “Eraserhead” exists in an eerie, haunting hellscape of sounds and textures. It follows the character of Henry Spencer – portrayed to a tee by Jack Nance – as his environment and adult life torture him.

All of Lynch’s works deconstruct the norms of society into an expressive subliminal dream.

In “Eraserhead,” Lynch takes adulthood and scrutinizes its anxieties and fears: children, “meeting the parents,” marriage, jobs, divorce, commitment and more. Lynch extrapolates his worries on these topics to produce a unique, horrifying black comedy.

For a chance to dwell on the distressing facets of growing up and being forced into the archetype of marriage, American life and commitment, consider “Eraserhead” this Valentine’s Day.

“Eraserhead” is available to stream on Max.

Audition” (1999)

Though not for the faint of heart, “Audition” is one of the finest Japanese horror films ever made. This slow burn turns from an excruciatingly normal film into a shockingly twisted one.

Seven years after the death of his wife, Shigeharu (Ryo Ishibashi) forms a misplaced infatuation with the far-younger Asami (Eihi Shiina). The film creeps along slowly and finds its footing as a gruesome tale of revenge and grief. “Audition” balances trippy surrealist filmmaking with classic horror storytelling to display the evils and pains of the world.

This is the kind of film a lovey-dovey couple should never sit down to watch. For someone looking to stick up a middle finger to everything happy in this world, however, “Audition” is the perfect Valentine’s Day watch.

“Audition” is available to stream on Tubi.

Us and Them” (2018)

“Us and Them,” the sole directorial effort from actress Rene Liu, is one of the most moving relationship films from the past decade. 

Set over 10 years, “Us and Them” tells the love story of two strangers who meet each other on a train. This one moment changes the trajectory of their lives as they fall in and out of love before meeting each other again some years later.

“Us and Them” can be painfully real in its acting and writing, but you’ll still fall in love with the film and its characters. Its visuals are dazzling and emotions intense. It is melancholic, grounding, bittersweet and – if you watch it this Valentine’s Day – worth every tear you’ll shed.

“Us and Them” is available to stream on Netflix.

Days” (2020)

Director Tsai Ming-Liang has been showing the powers of slow-moving, minimalistic cinema for over 25 years now, and it’s with “Days” that he truly captures the audience with so little. 

This film focuses on an intimate encounter between its two characters: Kang (Lee Kang-sheng) and Non (Anong Houngheuangsy). Without any dialogue, flash or plot, Tsai captures the true feeling of loneliness. In an equally profound manner, Tsai conveys the feeling of realizing that you are not alone in this world, that somebody else is out there and that somebody else understands how you feel.

If you’re a lonely soul this Valentine’s Day, “Days” is a must-watch.

“Days” is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.

Whether or not you’re celebrating tonight, we hope watching one of these films can give you what you need. Be it a pampering of your love-filled heart or a warm hug for your broken one.

This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs, Sara Winick and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Charlie Mennuti.

movies@theeagleonline.com 


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