“If you love someone you say it,…
you say it right then, out loud,…
or the moment just… passes you by..”
My Best Friend’s Wedding
A movie has always been an all-time favourite way to spend the Valentines Day, unless it is two separate movies, for the two celebrating this very special day! This 14th February, one can very easily fire up their love-life,or that very special day, by a high profile contemporary film with that of a classic one. Just see how bazinga a movie can say about one’s love life..
Sometimes the most enchanting love is the one that can never be. Whether it’s the yearning look in Francesca Johnson’s eyes as Robert Kincaid drives away in the rain at the end of The Bridges of Madison County (1995). Or the self-sacrificing nobility with which an Englishman masquerading as a prince says goodbye to the princess he’s come to be in love with in The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 or 1952).
One can even try pairing Titanic (1997) with Roman Holiday (1953). One on this very day, can let the black-and-white beauty of Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, and those breathtaking Rome vistas set the mood, and sail on to Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and James Cameron’s stunning evocation of the ship that even God couldn’t sink.
It is said that, the Forbidden fruit always tastes the sweetest, especially in movies. For a fun and thought-provoking double feature, start with last year’s surprise-hit, Kissing Jessica Stein, in which two women (stars/co-writers Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt) hesitantly experiment with a lesbian relationship. It’s funny, fast-paced and surprisingly sweet, and not at all prurient.
One can even follow Kissing with Love — Love Field (1992), with Michelle Pfeiffer as a repressed wife in 1963 Texas who, on a cross-country trip to attend John F. Kennedy’s funeral, tries to puzzle out her attraction to a black man (Dennis Haysbert) who gives her a lift along the way..
Sometimes the best love stories are about people who write stories. It’s hard to go wrong with Shakespeare in Love (1998), in which the Bard of Avon (Joseph Fiennes) tries to figure out the plot of his new play Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter while dallying with a lovely, young and completely stage-struck aristocrat’s daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow).
A more recent but oddly less modern writer, C.S. Lewis, is the unlikely hero of Shadowlands (1993). Bookish and withdrawn, Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) comes alive, when brassy American poet Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) bulls her way into his life.
Love is magical, of course, but sometimes magic is love, too. Remember Tom Hanks and a mermaid in Splash (1984) or Christopher Reeve following Jane Seymour into the past in Somewhere in Time (1980)?
Perhaps the best-ever romantic fantasy is Ghost (1990), with a spectral Patrick Swayze clinging to existence out of love for Demi Moore. Both leads are at their best, and Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for her hilarious turn as a bogus psychic who starts seeing real dead people.
For a double feature, one also try Steven Spielberg’s underrated Always (1989), with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter as a couple so perfect that one knows they can’t last. It’s Spielberg’s most romantic work by a long shot, and Audrey Hepburn, in her last film, has a charming cameo.
There’d be no musicals without love songs — think of Gene Kelly dancing outside Debbie Reynolds’ window as the skies open in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) or Judy Garland singing “The Man That Got Away” in A Star Is Born (1954).
Start with the peerless Top Hat (1935), clever enough to be counted among the classic screwball comedies if it weren’t for the distraction of the dazzling Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers dances and Irving Berlin’s wonderful score.
Songs by everybody from Jule Styne to Lennon/McCartney and Madonna are heard in Moulin Rouge (2002), and director Baz Luhrmann makes it all work beautifully. Nicole Kidman is a knockout, Ewan McGregor proves to be a wonderful singer and Jim Broadbent bellows ”Like a Virgin” as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
ON AND OFFSCREEN LOVE
Does it matter if on-screen lovers connect off-screen as well? Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman never really clicked on the big screen, after all, and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger never set the world on fire.
But for a life-imitates-art double feature, one can try Adam’s Rib (1949) and To Have and Have Not (1944). In the former, longtime companions Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn do their patented comedy/drama blend, with a nice turn from Judy Holliday as the aggrieved wife whose case pits defense attorney Hepburn against prosecutor Tracy. In the latter Humphrey Bogart meets Lauren Bacall, and even after 60 years you can still see the sparks. It’s not much like the Hemingway novel, but it’s a classic.
The most iconic love story of them all, Romeo and Juliet, is the definitive teen romance.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999), however, draws on a different Shakespearian source. This clever reworking of The Taming of the Shrew features career-making performances from Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger in the lead roles, but the supporting cast — especially Alison Janney, Larry Miller and Larisa Oleynik — is equally good.
The little-known Dogfight (1991) makes a soberer matchup, with River Phoenix at a career peak as a young soldier who meets a gawky folk-music fan (Lili Taylor) in Vietnam-era San Francisco. He comes to mock her but stays to know her, and ultimately it’s one of the most achingly believable films ever made.
Some say that young love is the only love? But one can easily come out of this thought, if one checks out Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn in Love Among the Ruins (1975) — the age gap between the two, is a bit too much, but they still make this tale of an aging actress and the barrister.
One can also add How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), in which a 40-something executive (Angela Bassett) and a 20-something Caribbean stud (Taye Diggs) prove once and for all that age is only a number.