FEATURE: Valentine's Day Special

As the majority of you have probably noticed due to the sudden influx of flowers, chocolates and general heart-shaped paraphernalia, it's Valentine's Day. Instead of providing you with the usual list of ideal Valentine's Day films, we're going to put in a little twist this year; Jen will provide you with three films for all you loved-up couples while Becky suggests another three for those people who lack a date this time around. So, if you're preparing to cuddle up to your Valentine tomorrow or nursing a certain amount of hatred towards the most couple-y day of the year, we've got a list of ideal films to choose from.

For the Singleton:

I've noticed a certain trend amongst single people coming up to Valentine's Day and it conveniently splits into three specific groups. First of all, you've got your angry/hate-the-world types who don't really want to ignore Valentine's Day, they want to grab it by the throat and punch it in the face. Secondly, you've got your solidarity bunch, a group of people who band together to ignore the fact that none of them have a date. And finally, you've got your hopeless romantics, convinced that this time next year, they'll be dining on an M&S Meal for Two and gazing adoringly into the eyes of their other half. With that in mind, I've got a film for each category, matching up the emotional state with a silver-screen counterpart.

1). Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarentino's debut feature is one long round of swearing and violence from start to finish. A heist movie that doesn't feature an actual heist, it has entered the popular culture consciousness for the iconic walking (spoofed brilliantly in Coupling) and characters like Mr Blue, Mr White and Mr Pink. Thanks in large part to Michael Madsen's Mr Blonde, the film can be quite gruesome, particularly the infamous ear scene, and the fact that Tim Roth's Mr Orange is slowly bleeding to death in the background for the entire film. Also it does not feature a romantic sub-plot in any way and allows the viewer to work out their aggression through all the shooting, hitting and ear-hacking that goes on. This makes it the perfect film for those angry types who wish to revile Valentine's Day and ignore their own lack of romantic sub-plot.

2). The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

This is a case of pick one or watch them all if you really want to miss the entire day. For all you out there craving solidarity in your singledom, this is an entire film of people of all kinds coming together to defeat an unstoppable evil. So you could see this an allegory of your attempts to combine your forces to collectively ignore one of the commercial events of the year. Well... if you really wanted to. Either way, the undeniable quality of the trilogy will mean you get lost in the realm of Middle Earth, caught up in Frodo and Sam's struggle to Mordor or the thrill of the Battle of Helm's Deep. Whilst there is the odd adoring gaze, the film is pretty light on romance but with arrows swooshing through the air and oliphaunts stomping the Pelennor Fields, you won't have time to think about it.

3. When Harry Met Sally

You may think it unusual for me to put this on the Singleton section but there is method in my madness I assure you. For all the hopeless romantics out there, this film represents the light at the end of the tunnel. Harry and Sally meet several times over the course of a few years, starting off hating each other, becoming friends and then falling in love. There's many false starts, an unforgettable scene in a diner, some dodgy karaoke and one of the best 'I'm in love with you' speeches that cinema has to offer. So for those lamenting their lack-of-relationship and wanting to live vicariously in the romantic moment, this film will offer that little ray of hope. One day, you too might meet your Harry or your Sally, depending on preference, and you'll share a lovely coconut wedding cake with chocolate sauce on the side. And if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, see Choice 1.



For the Coupled Up:

For me, as a loved- up lady of the long term relationship, romantic films should be about re-affirming who you already are as a couple. Film nights for couples, romantic or otherwise, are about tucking in to the popcorn, pick and mix, and cheap pop, and enjoying your relationship for what it is, not necessarily some Hollywood image of what it could be.

So, after much pondering and a fairly hefty amount of pop psychology, I have come to the conclusion that, with this in mind, the sort of film you choose to watch with your better half when, say, in a more romantic frame of mind, probably has a lot to say about your relationship. Ergo, I have aimed my choice of three towards different types of couple, in an attempt to help relationship-ers everywhere choose the perfect film for that cosy night in tomorrow night.

That said, my boyfriend and I always watch horrors, so lord alone knows what that says about us.


1). The Notebook. For the Together Forever Types.


As with all the choices on my list, the message of The Notebook is that true love conquers all. Be it mental illness, long distances, and even other, lesser loves- your love for ‘the one’ will somehow find a way. The reason, then, that this film works for the cuddly, ‘I’ll love you always’ types, is that its whole ethos is not that of a simple ‘boy meets girl’ story. Our girl, Ally (Rachel McAdams) and boy, Noah (Ryan Gosling) do at some point meet, obviously, and it’s very sweet and cutesy and lovely and small town America. But then there are arguments. Huge, ferocious arguments. Girl then moves away, and meets someone else, believing that boy has rejected her. But after all of this, and despite being engaged to a trendy city type, Ally still chooses to go back out to the countryside to live with Noah. Her one true love. And that’s just one narrative arc. The other sees the older Noah and Ally, still together, with love this time overcoming both her mental illness and their ailing health. The message of this film, then, is that if your love is real, and true, that is all that matter. This film is perfect, then, for the ‘everything is rosy as long as we have each other, and no matter what happens we’ll be together forever’ types, as it will only serve to re-affirm how they already feel every time they look at each other.

2). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for the Arty We Love Each Other, But We’re Just Too Damn Cool For Romance type

Eternal Sunshine… in my opinion, is one of the brightest, and sharpest love stories ever made. Again, the main idea is that love overcomes all obstacles, memory in this case. However this is a far better choice, and in fact a far better film full stop, than say the similar themed 50 First Dates. This is simply because it drags itself, and its viewer, kicking and screaming out of the traditional love story mode and into something entirely new, quirky and clever. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) do fall in love, true, as couples have in every other romantic film since rose petals were first sprinkled across a duvet. But this is such a disjointed, well woven and frankly odd story that this film can be appreciated in its own right, completely aside from the romance. You can ignore the mantra of enduring love central idea and enjoy it simply as a clever indie flick with a few stars thrown in. (Whilst still subtly and secretly rooting for the central couple, of course- you’re not totally heartless.) Watch it with your other half if you would like to bring just a smattering of romance, to this international day of love, but are about as likely to buy an ‘I love you’ soft toy as you are to head off into the garden and start eating worms.

3). Moulin Rouge. For the Epic, Look How Much We/They Are In Love But Everything Just Conspires Against Us/Them type.

Now don’t get me wrong, Moulin Rouge is a fantastically versatile film, and one which can be enjoyed on many levels- the gorgeous scenery, the dancers, the music, the great performances- the list really is endless. But when it comes to couple types, this one goes straight to the top of the list for the type in need of a bit of drama. The type which feels most in love when crying over their other half- be it with tears of sadness or happiness. Again, it’s safe to say that love overcomes all, in this plot. In fact, it’s hard to ignore. We are straight away hit with the powerful image of the words ‘The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return’ appearing on a typewriter, as the heartbroken Christian (Ewan McGregor), still desperately in love with and grieving for the love of his life, Satine, (Nicole Kidman), begins to write their story. Thus adding enough drama and tragedy to suit any couple in need of a bit of a cuddle and a weep. And at the end of it, unlike the ill-starred lovers of Baz Luhrmann’s world, you’ll still have each other. Granted, the tears may not be ideal for Valentine’s Day, but the sentiment sure as hell is.


So there you have it- different films for different couples. Which, if I had my way, is exactly what Valentine’s Day itself would be like.


- Jen and Becky

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