It’s February 14th, and if you’re avoiding the snapchat/tinder trap (for the day at least), then there are a few arthouse/indie movies that definitely have your back! So pick your poison: wine or ice cream, blanket or onesie, Netflix or Filmstruck, and cuddle up with nothing less than your best self and enjoy these gems.
True Romance (Tony Scott- 1993)
Deep down, aren’t we all really just looking for someone who can appreciate Sonny Chiba movies, comics, and Elvis as much as we do? …No? Well Clarence (Christian Slater) was. So much so that he’s completely unphased when the girl he meets at the movies (Alabama - Patricia Arquette) turns out to be a prostitute hired by his boss, and whose pimp is a possessive murderous drug dealer with a thick Jamaican accent... and played by Gary Oldman of course.
Written by Quentin Tarantino, this unconventionally badass fairytale of a movie is full of action and adventure and pits Clarence and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) against the cops, mobsters, and cocaine snorting movie moguls alike. As Alabama would say, this movie is definitely "so cool, so cool, so cool."
'Before' Series (Richard Linklater – 1993-2013)
You never know what a chance encounter on a train to Vienna could bring you, but if you do, then grab that pint of Ben and Jerry’s and take a trip down memory lane with Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise’ ‘After Sunset’ and ‘Before Midnight’ trilogy. Starring Ethan Hawke as aspiring writer Jesse, and Julie Delpy as Celine, the series follows Jesse and Celine’s relationship from their first encounter on a train, to finding each other again 9 years later in Paris, to their vacation as a couple in Greece with children of their own years after that.
Come for the naturalistic unwinding of their intricate relationship (Jesse has a son by another woman, Celine’s at a crossroads between jobs), but stay for Julie Delpy’s song: ‘A Waltz for a Night.’
Also Julie Delpy went on to direct her own series (‘2 days in Paris’ and ‘2 days in New York’ which are definitely worth checking out as well!)
La Boum (Claude Pinoteau – 1980)
Ah, to be a French teenager navigating through your first high school romance, where the only thing of importance is getting an invite to the cool party and getting your crush to notice you. Made in 1980, this lighthearted movie was the breakout role for young Sophie Marceau (as Vic), and with a score by Richard Sanderson ('Dreams'), it’s sure to hit you in the feels as Vic, her friends, and even her parents try to navigate relationships revealing that we’re all in the same boat, and no one has all the answers… except maybe Grandma (Denise Grey).
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola – 2003)
Bob (Bill Murray), an actor and face of Suntory Whiskey, meets a young Charlotte (Scarlett Johansen) who's traveled with her photographer husband to Tokyo. Bob’s marriage is on the rocks, and Charlotte’s having doubts about her ‘right after college’ marriage. Both meet at their hotel lobby and decide to shake off their melancholy by going on a spontaneous adventure through Tokyo. This isn’t a love story, neither is the other’s salvation, but you don’t need a sweeping romance to leave a lasting impact on someone. For Bob and Charlotte, to platonically share their sense of being lost in the world, even if for only one night, is, well, perhaps all they need.
Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné - 1945)
The destiny of France’s poetic realism came to fruition in this 1940’s classic with an all-star cast led by Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, and written by france’s greatest poet since Baudelaire: Jacques Prévert. Set in a bohemian world between the feuding troupes of the pantomimes and the spoken actors (mirroring the transition from silent film to the talkies in cinema), Baptiste (Barrault) becomes infatuated with Garance (Arletty) who is caught as the object of desire between Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), and Frederick (Brasseur). The story dives into love and lust, loyalty and liberation, clashing egos, duels of wit and lead, not to mention an unforgettable performance by Barrault as the unhappy mime.
So there you go, that should get you through the night no problem. Happy Melancholia!
John Donchak is an actor, writer, fight choreographer, and co-host of the Yippie Ki-Ay! Do Cinema. You can hang out with him here, but here's probably better.
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