Archive for February, 2008

Romance on celluloid

February 8, 2008

For the record, I don’t think much of Valentine’s Day…it’s a manufactured holiday, for crying out loud. But this post isn’t a harangue about how the occasion is a cheap excuse to peddle chocolates and jack up flower prices. I just thought I’d put together a list of my favourite love stories on film as a tribute to this universally-celebrated idiotic holiday, because even if I’m entirely convinced that February 14 is the most vastly overrated and overhyped day of the year, I still wouldn’t want to be called The Grinch Who Stole Valentine’s.

1. Los Amantes del Circulo Polar (Lovers of the Arctic Circle) – by virtuoso Spanish director Julio Medem. A love story replete with themes of tragedy, fate, coincidence and cycles. The film emphasises the fact that life is an endless cycle of coincidences and circuitous circumstances. Storyline was so intelligently woven and leaves viewers with so much to discuss and mull over.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Can science assist people in successfully erasing memories of past loves gone wrong? This film gives a very interesting answer. Good cast (one of the few films where Jim Carrey didn’t annoy me) and excellent acting.

3. When a Man Loves a Woman – Welcome to the dark side of love. No formulaic romantic comedy plot in here. A story of a married couple…guy is a pilot, wife is an alcoholic. I liked this one because it shows you that there are so many deeper dimensions to real human relationships (unlike what the shallow, cutesy plots of most Hollywood rom-coms make us believe), and it explores the stark realities of love and marriage. And also because it was not just another love story.

4. The End of the Affair – Based on a Graham Greene novel, this Neil Jordan film is about a married woman having an affair during the war. Turning point in the movie: while consummating their passion in their love nest, a bomb blast severely injures the woman’s lover and he nearly dies. Woman falls down on her knees and profusely begs God to let her lover live, and in exchange she will never see him again. Next scene we see the lover very much alive, and already standing behind her. The woman (who prior to praying to God for that favour was an agnostic) now becomes a devout Catholic. She severs all contact with her lover, lover then suspects her of having an affair, then woman dies and a string of miracles becomes attributed to her. Phenomenal novel and an equally beautiful film. I like how Greene eloquently tackles themes of faith and religion against the backdrop of a very passionate adulterous affair.

5 . In the Mood for Love – The first Wong Kar Wai movie that I ever saw. The lovers in the movie hardly had any physical contact but their unspoken passion exploded heavily on screen. I also found the inclusion of classic Spanish love songs like Quizas and Besame Mucho in the soundtrack wildly original and creative (this was a Chinese movie after all).

6. Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, For Keeps, Some Kind of Wonderful and all those other 80’s flicks – What can I say? Growing up, I was Molly Ringwald’s biggest fan, and I was and still am deeply enamored with the 80’s (fashion and hairstyles excluded). These movies best immortalise the sweet agonies of young love (during the decade when I was growing up) and thus will forever make me nostalgic.

7. A Very Long Engagement – True love is indeed very very very patient. I especially liked how sometimes I am as superstitious as Audrey Tautou’s character in the movie (If I reach the bend before the car, my lover will still be alive…If I don’t break the peel, his comrades managed to save him).

I’ll try to add some more to this list…