It’s not so much that I hate romance, or love, or relationships. It’s that after awhile, Valentine’s Day gets so sweet, so saccharine, that you begin to feel like you’ve eaten too many conversation hearts. If you’re single, it’s the time when all your singleness comes home to you, what with the big boxes of heart-shaped candy and endless romantic movies on every single TV station.
If you’re in a relationship, it’s a time of great turmoil, when you have to make certain to buy cards, buy flowers (or expect flowers), make reservations, find out that you waited too long to make reservations, or argue about what movie you’re going to watch on TV. It’s just a hassle and there tons of expectations for all of us.
If you’re a bit sick of all those romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and re-runs of Casablanca, why not settle down on Valentine’s Day for a lovely day of watching movies that have nothing to do with romance? In this spirit, here are a few suggestions.
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These are films that are all about love going horribly, horribly wrong. While they might depress you a little bit on Valentine’s Day, they can remind the singles among us that at least you don’t have to deal with that kind of madness. And for those in happy relationships? Hey, you’re not these people, are you?
If what you’re looking for on your Anti-Valentine’s Day Day is a movie that will make you never want to have a relationship ever again, look no further than Blue Valentine. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams try to make it work, but … my God, they do not. Valentine’s Day might not be the time to watch movies about depressing relationships, but if you really want to feel OK about being single – and never, ever wanting to have a relationship ever again – check this one out.
David Lynch is a sick, sick bastard. Kyle Maclachlan is obsessed with troubled human being and night-club singer Isabella Rossellini. Laura Dern is the most boring girl on the planet. Beneath the staid suburban exterior of small town life lurks all kinds of sexual depravity, and Mr. Maclachlan observes it all from his post, in a closet. But you really want the creep factor? Enter Dennis Hopper, the mad sadist high on nitrogen. Will things work out for Maclachlan and Rossellini? Or Dern? Kinda, but they’re so damaged by the end that it doesn’t really matter.
Donald Pleasance marries a much younger woman, their isolated home is then invaded by a sadistic criminal, the tide cuts them off from the rest of civilization and … things get really weird, really fast. This is a film by Roman Polanski, after all, which mean that it’s just not going to work out terribly well for our heroes. Claustrophobia sets in, the tension rises, and the husband and wife begin coming apart at the seams under all the stress. Does your wife make you dress up in her clothing and then mock you? No? See, it’s a happy time.
Leaving Las Vegas
And if you really never want to want to have sex again: David Cronenberg’s Crash.
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Stuff Blowing Up
Moving on to happier forms of getting out your anti-Valentine’s Day sentiments, try this: a really badass action movie. Sure, some have romantic elements, but most are so overtaken by stuff exploding that you don’t really have time to pay attention to anything else.
The Expendables/Expendables 2
Infused with testosterone, bursting at the seams with stuff blowing up, this is a great anti-Valentine’s Day film. Sure, there’s a little bit of romance with Jason Statham’s girlfriend and Sly Stallone’s little flirtation with … some chick, but really this one is all about stuff blowing up, and shooting stuff, and punching stuff. All. The. Time. Not much of a plot to follow, just one awesome set piece after another, culminating in badass shoot-outs with pithy one-liners from the world’s greatest artistes in blowing stuff up.
(Almost) Any James Bond Movie
James Bond (or Jimmy, as I like to call him) is perfect for Valentine’s Day, regardless of your gender. Granted, he sometimes get a bit maudlin, but for the most part he switches partners so fast that he can barely mourn one girl before he’s shagging another. So, not very forward thinking or feminist, but these are movies in which stuff blows up. I love Sean Connery, so I would go for Goldfinger or Dr. No (both films with very little love interest to speak of), but pick your favorite Bond. Unless your favorite Bond is George Lazenby, in which case there’s something wrong with you. Even Diana Rigg could not save that movie.
Speaking of testosterone … Zack Snyder. 300 is one of those movies that I object to morally, politically, cinematically … and will always put in when I feel in the need of some serious bloodshed. Despite that one, slightly disturbing sex scene, there’s no hint of love story in this one. Just King Leonidas and his merry band of men in leather underpants fighting King Xerxes and his supposed Persians – who knew the ancient Persians were so camp? – in very slow motion. The blood arcs are just enough to make you cry. So is the dialogue, but who’s looking for dialogue? This one is all about violence.
Die Hard With A Vengeance
The Italian Job (1969)
Throne of Blood
The Wild Bunch
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So maybe all that violence and depressive relationships just isn’t what you want in your Anti-Valentine’s Day viewing. Can’t imagine why. OK, so here are some more suggestions: why not go for a buddy movie? These are movies about love (sort of), but not the romantic kind. They’re all about your love for your friends.
Thelma and Louise
I don’t know what the female equivalent of a bromance is, but Thelma and Louise wins the award for the best one. While it is a movie about how horrible men can be, it’s also a movie about female friendship that never crosses the line into ‘hey, they’re totally lesbians.’ Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are two badass chicks who have experienced some really terrible relationships, but find comfort and power with each other. Nor are the men uniformly bad: there’s Harvey Keitel and (improbably) Michael Madsen. It’s really about two women who find greater happiness and freedom outside of relationships than in them. It might not end well for them, but even that’s OK. They’re free.
Isn’t it bromantic? Lethal Weapon is one of the better bromances. It’s also an action movie, so could be listed under ‘blowing stuff up’, but my love for this movie is all about Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. They’re different! They’re cops! They’re partners! They love each other, they take care of each other, and even though one of them is potentially insane and suicidal, it’s OK. You know that they’re going to be there for each other. I really do like films that involve men actually showing affection for each other without someone shouting that it’s ‘totally gay’.
I put Brave in this category because it needs to go somewhere. This is sort of a chick flick – it’s more about the relationship between a mother and daughter than anything else. But what’s lovely about it is that it takes the Disney princess and instead of attaching her to a love interest, has her declare her intention to remain single until she falls in love. Instead of going the common route and having her finally fall for one of the chieftains’ sons who come courting her, the film allows her to go her own way. A modern movie, for the modern woman.
The Other Guys
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So there you have it. Those are my recommendations for those among of us who are sick of the saccharine that we have to swallow during Valentine’s Day. There are so many more: horror films are also excellent for anti-Valentine’s Day sentiments, as are Westerns, samurai flicks, and anything with Jason Statham. So after you’ve eaten your candy, made your reservations, or explained to your mother how you’re just fine on your own, please stop calling, pop one of these in and remember that as amazing as love is, sometimes it can really suck. Remember: a little sour or salt with the sweet never hurt anybody.
Unless, of course, you’re these two: