In case you haven’t strolled down the aisles of every department store since Christmas, Valentine’s Day is bounding this way. The obnoxious pink and red decorations glistening in their fluorescent splendor scream annunciations of the February 14th holiday. V-Day is one of those holidays you either love or despise; there’s not much in between. Cinemas air retro love flicks and blockbuster Nicholas Sparks movies blemish marquees. Never fear singles, there’s still time to find a suitable dude (hint hint ladies…) or dudette. Whether you’re blissfully married, friends with benefits, recently single, or contentedly living the bachelor life here are some alternative Valentine’s Day flicks.
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“Up in the Air” (2009)
George Clooney plays an unattached businessman living out of a suitcase. There’s a love and attachment theme, and “Up in the Air” emphasizes impersonal relationships. The ending particularly stands out with a shocking twist. Also, it’s simply refreshing to see Clooney in a role where he isn’t a dashing ladies’ man who waltzes jauntily into the sunset.
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992)
Vampire lore traditionally features a romance plotline, and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” doesn’t disappoint. Moreover, the creatures of the night are actually that – creatures of the night. Meaning they don’t sparkle, unlike some unmentionable atrocities. Acting is phenomenal, featuring stellar performances from Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, and Winona Ryder. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, revolves around love, and then of course there’s the blood and you know, red, heart, Valentine’s Day…wait, no, don’t leave! Ok, ok, let’s just move on to the next one.
“Chinatown” doesn’t require a justification, because, well, it’s “Chinatown.” But noir flicks tend to make perfect date nights; there’s usually romance, tragedy, and (gasp) an actual plot. The ending reminds you that sometimes, as difficult as it may be, it’s best to forget. Or try to. Seriously, stop thinking about your ex and read the damn article.
“Taxi Driver” (1974)
Not for the faint of heart, “Taxi Driver” reminds us all that as bad as it is, it could always be worse. We could be depressed cabbies shooting pimps. Robert De Niro delivers possibly his best acting job, Jodie Foster plays a young prostitute and the brilliant Harvey Keitel adds his gusto to the cast.
“The Princess Bride” (1987)
“The Princess Bride” falls into the category of “romantic comedies that don’t suck.” As you may have guessed, it’s a fairly short list. A grandpa (Peter Falk) reads his grandson (Fred Savage) this fairy tale which is acted out by a great cast including Chris Sarandon, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, and Robin Wright.
“Dial M for Murder” (1954)
Alfred Hitchcock’s witty thriller involves a former professional tennis player (Ray Milland) who plans to have his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) killed. Surprisingly Hitchcock manages to make the film hilarious, and as per the Hitchcock norm, there are a few twists. Married couples may relate to the notion of offing one another. Great for an evening in with your partner.
“Warm Bodies” (2013)
If vampires and humans can do it, why not zombies? Where’s the love for the living dead? 2013’s wacky zom-com asks just that. Nicholas Hoult stars as R, a zombie who falls for Julie (Teresa Palmer), a girl from the nearby survivor settlement. The ending is a bit cliché, but the film pokes fun at stereotypes, so it’s acceptable. John Malkovich plays Julie’s father, providing his usual awkward hilarity.
“My Bloody Valentine 3D” (2009)
As the name suggests, action takes place on Valentine’s Day and yes, this is indeed a slasher. It’s completely outlandish, but who cares? You can’t help but love a movie that claims “nothing says date movie like a 3D ride to hell.” Considering this is a remake, it’s questionable how this was funded twice, but then it does have violence, sex AND all in 3D. Could it be any more perfect?
“The Big Lebowski” (1998)
The Dude (Jeff Bridges). If you’re single and not living life like El Duderino, what are you doing? No matter what happens, he shrugs, gulps a White Russian, and sparks a J. Spice up V-Day by tackling the Lebowski Challenge, and make it a memorable evening. Seriously though, no matter your stage of committal or singledom, “The Big Lebowski” fits the occasion. Keep in mind it’s particularly effective for first dates.