Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Kind of Romantic Films

In my deluded attempt at 'working out' yesterday I now have burning biceps. Biceps.. what a word. I have a sneaky suspicion that any muscle I ever had in my body has de-evolved into fat due to my long inactivity, even if that goes against any existing scientific theory. It started with an (abysmal) run and degenerated into me playing at the horizontal bars. I'm quite proud that I can still do the same tricks I learned in primary school. Not like that's going to earn me any points in any fitness books but still -pats self on head-, it's good to know.

I watched Paris Je'Taime yesterday. I had a lot of fun trying to match the segments with the directors. Out of eighteen, I got one right. Christopher Doyle's was pretty much a given though. And I was so sure Wes Craven had directed the story involving Elijah Wood too! If you watched the movie you might be apt to think so too. Anyway, the movie really made me think about the best romantic movies I've seen. Yep, you guessed it. Here's yet another movie list by me! With commentary, as per usual.

My Most Favourite Romantic Movies As Of 2007

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Joel (narration as Clementine acknowledges him by raising her coffee mug): Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?

I got so spooked out when I first heard that line and briefly wondered if Charlie Kaufman was looking into my life cause it needs to be said that that one line is in essence, my love life. Replace the woman with a man and that is just me all over. Sucks to be me. Personally I think Jim Carrey is one of the most versatile working actors in the industry. I always tell the disagreeing majority to watch this film. What usually follows is, "What the hell is a eternal sunshine of the what what?" Tsk. Lousy inbreds.

2. Casablanca
Rick: Here's looking at you, kid.

Actually that's not my favourite line in what is probably the most quotable movie in the world. But it carries the most emotional weight. This movie is probably one of the best romantic movies because both males who are vying for the attentions of Ingrid Bergman's character are real great guys. Unlike say, Reality Bites, where Ethan Hawke is a schlub next to Ben Stiller's nice guy and then Winona Ryder ends up choosing the douche anyway. Christ, I hate that overrated wallowing-in-faux-90s-pretentiousness movie. So as I was saying, you find yourself rooting for both of them alternatively because both of them need Ilsa in completely different ways. And both of them have their redeeming qualities so in the end when she goes off with ____ the grace with which the other guy handles the situation just adds the needed gravity and beauty to the love triangle.

3. Amelie
This movie is quite literally the celluloid encapsulation of the phrase joie de vivre. It isn't just about finding romantic or platonic love, it's about being in love with life and all its minute pleasures. How to fault it on any level?

4. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Mr. Darcy: Miss Elizabeth. I have struggled in vain and I can bear it no longer. These past months have been a torment. I came to Rosings with the single object of seeing you... I had to see you. I have fought against my better judgment, my family's expectations, the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony.
Best wedding proposal ever. That's how real men propose -thumps chest-. Heh. For real though, the final scene between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in the marsh in the early light of dawn is an absolute killer. And Darcy's second proposal is much improved of course.

5. The Village
I think I know why it did so badly in the movies. M. Night Shyamalan because of his past fare has built himself a certain reputation and unfortunately at the same time painted himself into a corner. Because of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, everyone expects a twist to happen and when it does and doesn't deliver they hate it on the film and go onto IMDb and rant. The Village suffered because the trailers painted it as a horror film. Everyone watched it expecting one. When it turned out to be about a character study in love and grief, they went ape shit.

I never saw The Village as a horror film. I went into the movie expecting a twist, sure, I mean I read the internet forums, but once the film started I was sucked into the love story between Joaquin Phoenix and Bryce Dallas Howard. To me the film was all about their relationship. Because I am quite a tactile person by nature, the incredible cinematography (it helps that the lead character is blind) with scenes like this:

had me enraptured.

6. Lost in Translation
Key scene: the karaoke scene with Scarlett Johansson singing 'Brass in Pocket'. In one fell swoop a million men lost their hearts when ScarJo sang the 'I'm special' line in the song.

Later when the credits are rolling and you're mulling about all the missed connections in your love life you'll understand why this movie is so damn good. The endless possibilities and 'what ifs' presented throughout the film, especially the final scene between ScarJo and Bill Murray will haunt you in your loneliest hour and you'll wish you had a Charlotte to your Bob.

7. City of Glass
The story of soulmates and undying love. It's a bit like The Notebook without the excessive schmaltz and dementia tangent. Off topic but this was the very first movie I saw Daniel Wu in. Even with the horrible Cantonese and floppy hair, it was celluloid love at first sight.

8. Peter Pan (2004)
I am endlessly fascinated by the concept of first love. Parents scoff and demean the idea by labelling it 'puppy love' but I am a strong believer that love can exist within children. It's the most pure kind of love for it is untainted by the baggage that comes with adult romances. Which is why I rank this film in my top 10 romantic films. The film might not have mean to come off that way and I might actually just be projecting my own issues, but the subtext between Wendy and Peter I found to be very bitter sweet.

9. Brokeback Mountain
Fave scene:

I am so tired of explaining to my mum how this is so much more than 'that gay movie' so I don't want to go into it again. Suffice to say that I always end up sniffing back tears at the end of the movie every damn time. For the last time, it's about love between two individuals who happen to be men not homosexual love, mum!

10. Moulin Rouge + Romeo and Juliet (both directed by Baz Luhrman)
I put them both together because they're quite similar for fairly obvious reasons. On a sidenote, how awesome is John Leguizamo in both of them? I actually didn't realize he was the midget in Moulin Rouge till much later on in the movie. I'm too lazy to find a screencap of my favourite scene of R+J, which is when Romeo first meets Juliet at the fish tank. The obvious but playful attraction that happen between the two are crucial in sealing the chemistry for the rest of the movie. Apart from this movie, Claire Danes will prove that her decision to leave My So-Called Life for a movie career was an unwise one due to her incredible sucktitude.

11. A Very Long Engagement
While I found the movie to be overly convulated at some parts and brain numbingly slow in others, when laid down to its bare essential- the relationship between Mathilde and Manech, it is very successful in creating a love story of hope and endless faith. It also helps that the two leads Miss Amelie Poutain herself, Audrey Tautou and Gaspard Ulliel, are incredibly pretty. In fact, lately the pretty stakes have been on the side of Ulliel. Google Image him, the boy is hot. A Very Long Engagement is another film that leaves me sniffing back tears at the end of it. You'd have to have a heart of ice not to.

12. The Princess Bride
Let's take a moment to remember the incredible hotness of Cary Elwes before the harsh years of thirtysomething life hit him. [beat] Right then. I think the great thing about the film is its fairy tale-like quality. Not unlike Peter Pan that has quite fantastical elements, it never gets bogged down by the larger than life premise or characters.

That just about ends the list. Can you believe not one Sandra Bullock or Hugh Grant film made the list? Crikey. I barely can. How will that validate their career that is afterall made up of romantic comedy schlock?

For good measure (and cause I'm on a roll), here are some scenes that I like in films that I didn't like enough to make the cut.

- the "Can I keep you?" scene in Casper. It's just absolutely gold considering it's a CGI ghost talking.

- the Keira Knightley segment in Love Actually. As a whole the movie doesn't do it for me with it's unrelenting schmaltziness but the unrequited love segment with Keira Knightley and dude-with-the-placards is quite sweet in it's inevitable hopelessness.

- alright here's one for Miss Bullock. I thought her character in While You Were Sleeping was adorable. I haven't watched the film in a long time after my mum confessed to thinking Bill Pullman was hot (ruined Independence Day for me too). I've never been able to look at him in a proper light after that life scarring confession. Thanks, mum.

I end with this quote by Ryan Gosling in an interview he did with OK! Magazine recently.
Interviewer: Many guys say they cry when they watch The Notebook.

Ryan Gosling: [Smiles] Sissies. What's the matter with them?

And one more for the LOL road.

Got to give mad props to this guy for trying.