Five Films for Valentines

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ince Boxing day; cards adorned with hearts have graced shop shelves, red and pink displays have slowly dominated high street windows and the price of flowers has gone up considerably. Even the most hardened cynic cannot avoid the fact that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.

In the spirit of all things romantic, this February I have revisited some of my favourite films about romance in readiness for Valentine’s Day. Never one to follow suit, my romantic picks are not especially traditional; I’m not a fan of Dirty Dancing, I’ve never seen (and do not intend to see) Pretty Woman, and I try my upmost to avoid Sandra Bullock films at all costs. Just because I’ve gone for the unconventional doesn’t mean that these love stories are not equally, if not more so, meaningful and emotive as more classical choices.

Without further ado, here are my top five films about romance in chronological order.

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Released: 13 Feb 1998 |  Director: Frank Coraci  |  Certification: 12  |  Run time: 95 minutes  |  Distributor: New Line Cinema

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Set in 1985, The Wedding Singer embodies everything brilliant about that decade: imaginative hairstyles, stonewash denim and some amazing pop songs.

Adam Sandler plays Robbie Hart; a wedding singer, waiting for the right record deal.  After being left at the alter at his own wedding, Robbie meets function waitress Julia (Drew Barrymore) and soon develops a soft spot for her. Learning of Julia’s engagement, and her future husband’s penchant for infidelity, Robbie attempts to stop their marriage before it’s too late.

Despite Sandler’s largely questionable career (I’m thinking of Jack and Jill especially), his role of Robbie is certainly a highlight; he has a natural rapport with the audience and it’s incredibly hard not to like him. The Wedding Singer has some sincerely sweet moments between the convincing, clearly smitten, couple. Admittedly there are some silly scenes, but the adorable Barrymore manages to even out the tone.

Beguiling and believable, The Wedding Singer is one of the sweetest romantic comedies around; even the most skeptical of audiences will be routing for the two to succeed.

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Released: 19 Mar 2004  |  Director: Michel Gondry |  Certification: 15  |  Run time: 109 Minutes  |  Distributor: Universal Pictures

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Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind opens with main character Joel Jim Carrey, exclaiming how much he hates Valentine’s Day (“today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel crap”) making this film an obvious choice for the romantic season.

Joel and Clementine (Kate Winslet, in the finest performance of her career) have recently separated. Heart broken, after Clem fails to recognise him, he discovers that his ex has undergone an experimental procedure eradicating all memories of their relationship from her brain. Hurt and angry, he agrees to undergo the procedure also. Playing through the memories, Joel falls in love with Clementine all over again and struggles with his psyche to  prevent his memories from being deleted.

Featuring a scene involving Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst dancing in their underwear, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is really a film about when love is meant to be it will overcome any obstacles to succeed. Everything about it, from the cinematography, the script and the soundtrack, are all completely beautiful despite how odd it may initially seem.

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Released: 3 Oct 2008  |  Director: Peter Sollett  |  Certification: 12  |  Run time: 90 Minutes  |  Distributor: Columbia Pictures

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Music plays a remarkably important part in any relationship, even more so for teenagers. The art of compiling the perfect the mix-tape is a sadly lost skill now that iTunes Genius takes out all the work of producing that brilliant compilation to show someone special just how much you like them, through other peoples words. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is all about winning over a girl with a brilliant mix CD, even if it’s not the girl it was originally intended for.

Michael Cera, in his first appearance of this list, plays Nick; a heartbroken bass player pining over his girlfriend who dumped him after using, and cheating on, him regularly. Norah (Kat Dennings, more recently see in Thor) goes to the same all-girls school as Nick’s ex and retrieves his binned mixes. Interested in the same music, they meet at his band’s gig before spending the night hunting out where their favourite indie band is playing through deciphering cryptic clues scattered around the city.

With a brilliant soundtrack to boot (featuring Vampire Weekend, Shout Out Louds and We Are Scientists), Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is perfectly reminiscent of the first stages of a relationship and affectionately explores how The Beatles had it right all along: love is all about wanting to hold hands.

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Released: 23 Jun 2008  |  Director: Andrew Stanton  |  Certification: U  |  Run time: 98 Minutes  |  Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

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What says “unconventional romance” more than a love story between two robots who don’t talk? It may not seem it, but Pixar’s WALL-E depicts one of the greatest loving relationships that easily rivals standards set by the old Hollywood greats.

Set in 2700; Earth has been abandoned, deemed uninhabitable thanks to landfills spilling over, leaving every inch of the planet overrun by rubbish. WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class)’s job is to tidy up the mess. Little did his creators know that wee WALL-E would develop a personality. Fuelled by curiosity, he collects artefacts from the once populated land, including a VHS of the musical Hello, Dolly! which echoes the little robot’s desire for companionship. It isn’t long until he’s no longer alone when EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) is deployed from space to search for signs of life. It’s love at first sight for WALL-E as he tries his hardest to woo, protect and accompany her back to her spaceship.

Pixar never fails to deliver feasible, loveable characters and they have done this perfectly in WALL-E. Not only is the film spectacularly animated, the story explores every range of emotion, producing their most successful, genuine portrayal of love that never fails to make me cry.


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Released: 27 Jul 2010  |  Director: Edgar Wright  |  Certification: 12  |  Run time: 112 Minutes  |  Distributor: Universal Pictures

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Even though I hate repeating actors and/or directors in my top lists, I couldn’t help but put another Michael Cera film on my Top 5 Films for Valentine’s Day. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, based on the graphic novel series of the same name, follows yet another indie bass  player (Scott Pilgrim, played by Cera) and his relationship with the girl of his dreams; Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Before he can win her heart, not only does he first need to first dump his current girlfriend, Scott is required to defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes.

We quickly learn that Cera’s character has been terribly damaged in a previous relationship. Emotionally immature; Scott lives his life through countless geek references, ranging from Nintendo games to popular culture (Scott’s ex is referred to as “She Who Will Not be Named”), no doubt appealing to an audience similar to Scott’s character. These geeky tendencies result in the most wonderful fight scenes with Ramona’s exes (ranging from Chris Evans, aka Captain America, to Jason Schwartzman), as their demise is shown by a shower of gold coins.

Like other films in this list, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack (Beck provides the music for Scott’s band Sex-Bob-Omb) that will appeal to even the trendiest of hipsters. Not only does this film look and sound amazing, it’s also incredibly sweet as Scott fights (literally) for the girl that he loves, probably making him and Ramona the coolest couple in modern culture.

SPECIAL MENTION

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Released: 7 Aug 2009 |  Director: Marc Webb  |  Certification: 12  |  Run time: 95 Minutes  |  Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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I know lists should be made up of either five or ten items, but I couldn’t write anything about romance without mentioning Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer. Even though it is deemed as an anti-love story, there are still some very, very sweet moments in it.

Head on over to the brilliant Impassioned Cinema to see my first ever guest post (very excited about this!) and find out what I love about it.

What did you think of my list? Too unconventional? Let me know your choice of romantic comedies for Valentine’s Day in the comments section

8 Comments
  • Andina
    February 11, 2012

    I’m loving this list! You know I love 500 Days, but Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is one of my recommended romance movie. It felt underrated, but it’s a great pick. You have 2 Michael Cera movies there. Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind is a bit heavy, but in a way is very romantic. Great list!

    • Amy
      February 11, 2012

      Thanks Andina! I love Nick and Norah so much, very underrated. I only saw it because I rented it randomly, I don’t think it had much advertising over here.

      I really don’t like to repeat actors, or directors, but I couldn’t miss out Scott and Ramona because I love them so much!

  • Dan
    February 11, 2012

    Why don’t you want to see Pretty Woman? I would be intersted in your opinion. As a critic surely you have to watch fils you don’t like too? And why the hatred of Sandra Bullock?

    I have seen pretty much every rom com under the sun. Even Valentines Day! ( it was better than new years eve!) I like your list, haven’t seen a couple of them though.

    • Amy
      February 11, 2012

      I know, I’m a bad critic. I’ve seen clips of Pretty Woman and I just thought it looked awful. I’m not a fan of Julia Roberts. I have seen some Sandra Bullock films and they’ve generally been very bad (with the exception of Crash, I’ve not seen Blind Side though).

      I’ve seen Valentines Day too, unfortunately. New Years Eve was voted the worst film of last year I think!

      Thanks Dan. I wanted to go against the traditional because I love indie films so much. Check them out if you get the chance, Nick and Norah is a bit cheesy but still great!

  • Max
    February 11, 2012

    I love this list! It’s kind of unconventional, but I love a lot of movies on here. Dirty Dancing is amazing BTW! Haha.

    I’m a fan of and have seen every film on this list except Nick and Norah. Still not really all that interested. Also when thinking about romance films I never think about Wall*E, but I guess it could be included. Eternal Sunshine is one of my all time favorites.

    I’ve added this post to the Romance February Hub!

    • Amy
      February 11, 2012

      Thanks Max! I tried to go for something a bit different.

      WALL-E is so sweet, it makes me cry so much every time I see it!

      Hmm I think I’ll have to watch Dirty Dancing eventually!

      Thanks very much for including it to the Romance February Hub, I really appreciate it :)

  • Nostra
    February 13, 2012

    Excellent choices, although I have not seen all of them (the Infinite Playlist one), would also suggest Once and Before Sunrise.

    • Amy
      February 13, 2012

      Thanks for the comment, Nostra! Very much appreciated.

      I’ve heard very good things about Once. It’s in the 1001 Movies To See Before You Die book so will get around to seeing it soon. Not heard of Before Sunrise, will pop that on my rental list.

      Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is very cute, if a little juvenile at times. They’re a cute couple and the music is good, doesn’t take much to amuse me!

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