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Eventually we die. And the people we love die. And if they don't die, they disappoint us by electing Donald Trump—BECAUSE THE EMAILS—and make us want to kill ourselves.
The point is love stinks. (Yeah, yeah.) Love will let you down, and Valentine's Day is the dumbest reminder ever that we care more about marketing than we do celebrating our loved ones daily.
"Oh, no," you say. "Not me. I tell my wife each morning I love her and I rub her feet each Friday night. And did I forget to buy product X for Valentine's Day? Because some group of advertisers told me I need to buy it and gift it (that's a marketing term!) so that I may appropriately express my affection to my partner! Heavens to Betsy, what shall I do?"
Hopefully you'll get bent. Then dumped. After said dumping, you can watch any one of the following 14 movies to take your mind off the fact that you're a tiny, loathsome person in a world that doesn't give a shit about you. Happy Valentine's Day! Go fuck yourself.
Dying Young (1991)—This is the last movie Julia Roberts made before her first self-imposed break from acting. When she came back, she made The Pelican Brief, a piece of garbage from a once-great director, Alan J. Pakula (The Parallax View, All the President's Men). Anyway, Joel Schumacher, who has a spotty résumé at best, directed Dying Young, in which the main characters (Roberts and Campbell Scott) DO NOT die young. IT'S CALLED DYING YOUNG, DAMN IT. I WANT SOME DEATH. Anyone who willingly watches this barf fest deserves to die young. YEAH, I SAID IT.
Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)—What's worse than your boyfriend dying young? How about your dead boyfriend returning to you, living in your home and all the while telling you how cold he is? Jamie (Alan Rickman) is the dead boyfriend, and Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is the mourning girlfriend. One night, Jamie shows up as a ghost. And it's great! Until it isn't. He invites over some ghost friends and gradually makes Nina's life unbearable. The ending is bittersweet, as is the entire film. Writer/director Anthony Minghella moved on to bigger tearjerkers later with The English Patient.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)—This one pops up on nearly every list I make, and beware: It's 1. a really, really gory horror movie and B. Canadian, so all the actors have absurd accents. There's an unrated version available on DVD. And yes, terrible things are done to many cast members' hearts throughout; it's gnarly, man.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)—This is not the Jarmuschiest of writer/director Jim Jarmusch's movies. That honor belongs to The Limits of Control. But OLLA sure has its moments, with silent drives through a decaying city (Detroit), droning music and vampires Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston ruminating on love and despair. Bonus: It's not a stupid vampire movie. Watch it, or watch Jarmusch's current release, Paterson, which is a beautiful story about a poet, his wife, his friends and their dog.
My Girl (1991)—If you don't cry when Macaulay Culkin is bee-stung to death (SPOILER!), you're a monster. In other news, I'm a monster. This movie is guaranteed to make you hate love because it's A. bad but 2. thinks it tells an important story about love and friendship. It doesn't. It's an insipid movie about insipid kids with Dan Aykroyd as a bumbling father.
Love Story (1970)—Love means never having to say you're sorry, but the person who wrote that dumb line didn't drag his date to Love Story. My advice: Apologize profusely to whomever you make watch this maudlin pap. Somehow Ryan O'Neal had a career throughout the 1970s after this flimsy story was released and became a big hit. Ali MacGraw dies of an unnamed blood disease, by the way (SPOILER HA HA THIS MOVIE IS 47 YEARS OLD). No, really, their characters are dicks.
Terms of Endearment (1983)—I first saw this movie when I was 10. I might be the only person who was rooting for cancer. God, Debra Winger is the second worst actor alive (Ray Winstone is the absolute worst). How did she ever end up a critics' darling? Plus, Shirley MacLaine's character needs a punch in the throat. Barf. I hate this movie. Say it with me: LOVE STINKS.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)—I can't get hard! Also I'm an alcoholic! I love you, hooker who understands me! There ya go: Capped in 15 words. Leaving Las Vegas (and Internal Affairs) made Mike Figgis a mainstream director for five minutes. Elisabeth Shue is excellent and Nicolas Cage puts his worst actorly impulses to the their best use. None of them ever did work this good again, even if Figgis' follow-up One Night Stand is a near miss and Shue is better than Piranha 3D deserves.
Valentine's Day (2010)—Just kidding! Fuck this movie.
The Notebook (2004)—Two assholes (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) die together. That's the plot. And seriously, their characters are terrible people. He's basically a morose stalker (the worst kind of stalker) and she's a jerk. Gosling and McAdams age into James Garner and Gena Rowlands, and it makes me angry that James Garner and Gena Rowlands play assholes. But watching these characters die is kind of poetic after what they put the audience through.
Somewhere in Time (1980)—This movie posits that death is better than living a full life if you can't be with the person you love. I'll soldier on with the booze, cigarettes and satanic music, thanks. At least Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour look very, very pretty in this overbaked melodrama about love and time travel. People and their ideals of romantic love suck.
An Affair to Remember (1957)—No jokes or yelling at the readership here. An Affair to Remember is undeniably moving and stars pros Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr as Nickie and Terry, two would-be lovers who meet on an ocean liner and promise to reconnect at the top of the Empire State building in six months if their feelings endure. They don't meet for heartbreaking reasons, and eventually more is revealed. Sleepless in Seattle, a dung-infused stroll down amnesia lane, cribbed the Empire State plot point as homage, but it feels like a rip-off. Besides, who wants to see Meg Ryan fall in love with anyone other than Billy Crystal? Anyspray, they don't make 'em like this anymore, and really, they didn't make too many of 'em like this at all.
Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)—On Feb. 15, Bohemian Brewery is sponsoring the Love Hurts Film Fest at Brewvies Cinema Pub (677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City) from 7:30-11:30 p.m. (the flicks begin at 8). You must be at least 21 and there are draft specials—yay!
Note: I have nothing negative to express about these films because I've seen neither. Audiences seem to love Moulin Rouge! (but they love Transformers movies, too, so make your own assessment). A good friend and fellow film critic I trust ranks Scott Pilgrim vs. the World among his favorite films. Let's call that a ringing endorsement!
So happy Valentine's Day, I guess. Here's hoping we survive until next year.