Today’s a day invented by greeting card companies, to make people feel like crap.
– Joel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Valentine’s Day is an interesting day. People have wildly mixed reactions to it: love, hate, snark, snark in retaliation to the snark…
So although Valentine’s Day can be a drag, in or out of a relationship, here are some movies to watch today, whether you’re single or coupled. A lot of them aren’t primarily about love, but they have great stories about love in them.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, dir. Michel Gondry)
Ever had a break-up so terrible that you wish you could just erase all related memories? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is possibly one of the best romantic sci-fi movies ever, and one of my personal favourites.
It uses a non-linear narrative structure, and Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are on fire in this film.
2. The Princess Bride (1987, dir. Rob Reiner)
A perfect blend of romance, action and comedy. Pirates, sword-fighting, giants and royalty are all present in this captivating tale.
3. (500) Days of Summer (2009, dir. Marc Webb)
An unconventional hit. Features “indie darling” Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Their story is not a love story, as the film states very clearly at the start of the film. It’s still a great movie about love though.
4. Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006, dir. Goran Dukić)
I know it sounds morbid and kind of the opposite of Valentine’s Day, but Wristcutters is a great movie. Zia commits suicide, but where most people’s stories end at that point, he goes to a world inhabited by those who have killed themselves. Fascinating concept, and it plays out beautifully.
5. Dirty Dancing (1987, dir. Emile Ardolino)
If you haven’t seen this movie, you are missing out. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey dance and also get it on in a film about dancing, love, classism and money. Not just a romantic dance movie.
6. Say Anything (1989, dir. Cameron Crowe)
I admit it. I’m a sucker for 80’s teen movies. Say Anything is a film about teens straight out of high school. In particular, average Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and beautiful, smart Diane Court (Ione Skye). It’s a classic, especially the scene in which Lloyd holds the boombox up outside Diane’s window.
7. Pretty in Pink (1986, dir. Howard Deutch)
I did say I was a sucker for 80’s teen movies. This one is quintessential John Hughes. It features the misfit Andie (Molly Ringwald) and rich preppy kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy), as well as Andie’s best friend, “Duckie” (Jon Cryer). We’ve heard the storyline before, but who cares? It’s a brilliant movie.
8. Pride and Prejudice (2005, dir. Joe Wright)
Any kind of romantic movie list needs Jane Austen’s best-known work. The 2005 version is much shorter and more condensed than the BBC version, but this movie still does the book justice. And it has Keira Knightley!
9. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008, dir. Peter Sollett)
Indie music, queercore bands, Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, wandering the streets of New York all night. What else do you want to know about this movie?
10. Never Let Me Go (2010, dir. Mark Romanek)
Another sci-fi, based on a book by Kazuo Ishiguro. Set in an alternate England. Gorgeous cinematography, and heart-breaking performances from Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.
11. Clueless (1995, dir. Amy Heckerling)
Another Jane Austen film (albeit based very, very loosely on the book. Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash and Brittany Murphy are hilarious, and Paul Rudd plays his usual type – a little dorky, but cute.
12. Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz)
Casablanca. Enough said.
13. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, dir. Blake Edwards)
Perhaps Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic role in a film. Blake Edwards’ usual collaborator, Henry Mancini, scored this movie, and ‘Moon River’, at least to me, is one of the greatest songs in film history.
14. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, dir. Gil Junger)
Another modernisation of an old story. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger (sadface) are great actors, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Larisa Oleynik are also brilliant.
15. La Jetee (1962, dir. Chris Marker)
This is a bit different. It’s an experimental science fiction movie constructed mostly from still photos, and narrated in French. It’s hard to explain, but is a beautiful, haunting movie. If you can get your hands on it, watch it.
Any suggestions? Let me know.