Yep, it’s that time of year again. Time for restaurants to hike up prices, time for ladies to demand romance and gifts, and time for men to bring home a stuffed bear holding a heart. Yep. It’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t have anything against the holiday. It’s cute, and I like cute things. I do however have a problem with making a huge deal out of it. It’s not called “Get Her an Expensive Gift Day”, ladies.
In honour of this weird little holiday, I give you my favorite off beat romance films. Sure, any list about romance films will have its staples like Casablanca and The Notebook. But not this one! I decided to make a list of the more quirky, interesting love stories out there. They are also my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, and happy Valentine’s Day!
- Wild at Heart (1990) – When you think of David Lynch you will probably have one of two reactions: Love or Hate. I am of the former camp. For me, “Wild at Heart” takes all of the best things about David Lynch and puts them all together. He created a truly romantic love story. It tells the story of Lula and Sailor – two star crossed Elvis lovers on the run from the law and Lula’s batshitcrazy mother. Of course there is so much more to it than that, but it’s David Lynch so I am not going to even attempt to explain it. Just know this: Harry Dean Stanton is in it. Nic Cage sings Elvis’s “Love Me” in a thrash Metal bar. Willem Dafoe plays the creepiest creep in all of creepdom. And, the film is a modern-day telling of the Wizard of Oz. Just watch Nic Cage fight for his lady’s honor and his belief in personal freedom. My favorite scene in the film.
- Secretary (2002) – Often looked at as “That S&M movie”, “Secretary is far more than that. The film is about two people who live in a world that doesn’t accept or understand them. It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as the fresh out of the loony bin girl who just wants to be “normal”. She finds a job working for (the glorious!) Mr. James Spader as his secretary. They quickly realize that they need each other. She needs to be punished for being such a disappointment, and for not being normal. He needs to feel control and he needs to feel safe. The film is off beat, super sexy, funny and dark. In the end it is about true love and self acceptance. “Who’s to say that love needs to be soft and gentle?”
- Harold & Maude (1971) – If you don’t like this movie then… you just don’t like. This movie is the ultimate quirky love story. There are no beautiful people with slight mental disorders here. No Hollywood glam. Just some Cat Stevens music, a suicidal teen, and the coolest senior citizen of all time. I strive every day to be more like Maude.
- Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – What’s better than a coming of age love story? A coming of age love story directed by Wes Anderson. If you didn’t see this in the theater, you missed out. And there is a kitten in it.
- Brokeback Mountain (2005) – Blah, blah, blah gay cowboy movie blah blah. Did you get it out of your system? Can we move past the shock of two men kissing? Good. Now that we have all grown the fuck up we can look at this great movie for what it is: A tragic love story. I think I cried for a solid hour or three during and after this one. Love isn’t always a splendored thing. Sometimes it hurts, it breaks your heart and leaves you broken. This movie is a story of two people who fall in love, and cannot find a way to be together. So they do the best they can, and we all know how that usually turns out. Heath Ledger gave the performance of his career in this film with quiet, understated pain. The entire cast is spot on. It is a wonderful film. Just don’t go looking for any happily ever after here.
- True Romance (1993) – There is so much good here, I hardly know where to begin. You get Patricia Arquette playing the adorable Alabama Worley, a street smart call girl with a penchant for Kung Fu movies. She falls in love with Clarence (Christian Slater) and they get married. And then they start having a few problems. What problems? Let’s see… there’s a crazy pimp (played by Gary Oldman), a stoner roommate (played perfectly by Brad Pitt), an insane Sicilian (played by Christopher Walken) and a great dad (played by Dennis Hopper). Yeah, trouble. I didn’t even mention James Gandalfini getting his ass handed to him by a badass and bloody Arquette. So good. If you are a fan of violence and romance, then this is for you.
- Ruby Sparks (2012) – Have you ever read a book and wished that a character was real because you fell in love with them? Well, in this film a novelist creates a character and then pretty much wills her into being. It’s quirky, sad, and funny. Paul Dano stars as the novelist in one of the first roles he’s played that doesn’t creep me out. Oh, and Elliot Gould is in it. That’s reason enough to see it.
- Lars and the Real Girl (2007) – Long before anyone really noticed what a hottie Ryan Gosling is, he starred in a bunch of strange indie movies. This is one of them. It’s a touching story about a man who finds love… with a silicone sex doll. I’m sure he’s not the first dude to proclaim love for a sex toy, but he might be the first guy who forms an emotional bond with it. The movie is funny and touching, and watching it makes you happy that you know actual people who can love you back.