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Splendor In The Video Store: A Guide To The Other Great Romantic Movies
by Collin Souter

Time to put the love back in the air. I wrote this article for a newspaper and the opening paragraph would look weird here on the front page. Click here and you'll have a guide to the romantic movies that Entertainment Weekly and other famous publications seem to forget. Best of all, it just might take your mind off those horrendous Oscar nominations...for a little while anyway. Enjoy.

E-mail thread dated 2/12/01:

Dearest Ilsa,
I have it all figured out. We値l meet at my place (since I have the big-screen). We値l sit by the roaring fireplace. I値l take the phone off the hook, put my pager on vibrate and leave the cellular in the car. Mother has a date tonight, so we値l have the place all to ourselves. I will give to you your Valentine痴 Day gift, and then we値l use it. Oh, baby, will we use it! I will feed you bread, cheese, wine and chocolates from some obscure confectionary.
To top the night off, we値l watch a movie, one of your favorites. 禅itanic, 選t Happened One Night, 全leepless In Seattle, 糎hen Harry Met Sally, 賎host, 閃oonstruck, whichever you want. We値l settle into the couch and dream of a better life. We値l fall gently asleep in each other痴 arms. Happy Valentine痴 Day (in advance).
Love, Norman.


Hey, Norm!
First of all, you don稚 have it all figured out. If you did, you wouldn稚 be working at Hardee痴. What you mean to say is that we値l meet at YOUR MOTHER痴 place! You say you値l put your pager on vibrate? Good. May I borrow it when the evening痴 over? Yeah, we値l have the place to ourselves until your mother comes home from her date (at 9pm), gets a look at me (as though she hasn稚 met me once in the one year we致e been going together), and give me the usual, 蘇ussytrampyou leave my son alone speech. Lingerie is a gift for you, not me, and if you get it for me, YOU will wear it. Wonder bread, Kraft cheese, and TGI Friday痴 bottled White Russian drink mix has really lost its charm. Can we eat at Arby痴 instead?
And the movies! I知 sick of seeing the same list of movies in every issue of Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan and People. 禅itanic is depressing. Meg Ryan is nothing but a deranged stalker in 全leepless In Seattle. I致e seen 糎hen Harry Met Sally so many times, I have all of Meg Ryan痴 restaurant orders memorized. 賎host makes me puke every time he says 奪itto. And 閃oonstruck着okay, I still love 閃oonstruck, but can we be a little less obvious this time? I hear the brilliant film critic Collin Souter is putting together a guide to less-obvious romantic movies to rent on Valentine痴 Day. You can find it in the next issue of The Harper Paper. Do some research, and MAYBE I値l let you touch me. Maybe. I agree with you on the 租reaming of a better life part.
Bored In Barrington. (Ilsa)

Here you go, all you Norman痴 out there. Hope this helps:

ALWAYS Richard Dreyfus, Holly Hunter and John Goodman star in Steven Spielberg痴 word-for-word re-make of 1943痴 A Guy Named Joe. It stays very true to the original痴 tone, which may explain why some of the dialogue seems so corny. Still, the movie has laughs, thrills and moments of genuine sadness. Not surprising, considering the source. It also may seem reminiscent of the more popular Ghost, but this time you won稚 have to sit through the hackneyed 鍍hriller aspect. Also, in this movie Audrey Hepburn makes her final screen appearance.

THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT Fans of The West Wing should check this out if they haven稚 already. Aaron Sorkin, writer and creator of The West Wing, penned this old-fashioned romance about a widowed U.S. president (Michael Douglas) who just wants to date an environmental activist (Annette Bening) without being hounded by the press or attacked by his political opponent (Richard Dreyfus). The first movie that comes to mind when trying to think of a 90痴 movie that can be described as 鼎apra-esque, as well as director Rob Reiner痴 best film.

BEAUTIFUL GIRLS Women usually bring this movie home from the video store, but guys end up embracing it. Timothy Hutton comes home for his 10-year high school reunion to find that nothing has changed, except for the new next door neighbor (a 13-year-old Natalie Portman), who has more maturity and brains at age 13 than all of Hutton痴 friends put together. Beautiful Girls has been written so well, we actually understand why Hutton 努ould wait for Portman. A great cast, featuring Matt Dillon, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rappaport, Martha Plimpton, Annabeth Gish, Lauren Holly, Uma Thruman, David Arquette, and (don稚 let this stop you) Rosie O奪onnell.

BEFORE SUNRISE Remember your first date with your significant other? Do you remember not wanting that day/night to end? Do you remember what you talked about? Richard Linklater痴 leisurely Before Sunrise takes a talky approach to the romantic comedy, letting the realistic, sometimes-improvised dialogue between its two leads (Ethan Hawke and France痴 Julie Delpy) carry the movie. Hawke plays a college student bumming around Europe. Hours before he has to leave, he meets Delpy, a friendship grows between the two and after hours of getting to know one another痴 deepest thoughts and personal preferences, their desire for one another peaks and comes to a crossroads.

CITY LIGHTS Charlie Chaplin痴 masterpiece. His second-to-last silent film, it tells the story of the Little Tramp who falls in love with a poor blind flower vender. A chain of events leads her to believe the Little Tramp has money to burn and will help pay for her surgery which will restore her sight. Some of Chaplin痴 most inspired comedic moments mixes with pathos and one of the most moving endings ever filmed. One of the greatest films of all time.

DEFENDING YOUR LIFE After losing Holly Hunter in the equally brilliant Broadcast News, actor/writer/director Albert Brooks vowed to lock himself in a room and write a movie where he gets the girl at the end. Meryl Streep plays the girl in a movie that tells the truth about what happens after you die: You go to court to defend yourself before a judge. Brooks has to spend nine days in the afterlife, where he has been put on trial for being afraid most of his life. Soon, he must decide whether he wants to return to his real life or stay in the kinder, gentler afterlife with a woman he just fell in love with. Kind of like What Dreams May Come with the funny parts put back in.

DOGFIGHT Like Before Sunrise, Dogfight tells the story of an unlikely friendship that turns to love overnight. It tells the story of a bunch of Marines who place a bet as to who can find the ugliest girl to bring on a date (hence the title). River Phoenix picks up a homely-looking Lili Taylor. She finds out about his intentions, but he tries to make amends. A wonderful, underrated little movie.

GUINEVERE A terrific surprise. This stars the always-great Stephen Rea and the, well, always great and beautiful Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go) in a love story about a photographer and his lover/would-be prot馮. Sarah Polley again demonstrates why she has become one of our best leading young actresses. By the way, you can hear her angelic singing voice over the beautiful Thomas Newman-esque score.

HAROLD AND MAUDE I realize I said this would be a list of underrated movies, and I realize this movie has a loyal following, and it did make AFI痴 100 best Comedies Of All Time list, but you just can稚 argue an original love story. Bud Cort stars as Harold, a lonely young man obsessed with suicide. Ruth Gordon, in her most memorable role, plays Maude, the 80-year-old woman he falls in love with. Love knows no boundaries.

HANNAH AND HER SISTERS No list of great romantic movies would be complete without at least one Woody Allen movie. Sure, I could put Annie Hall, but that movie謡hile being a perfect movie about love and relationships妖oesn稚 leave the viewer with an uplifting, romantic glow. After Allen痴 Academy Award winning Hannah and Her Sisters, you値l be 努alking on air. During it, you値l laugh plenty. With Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow, Daniel Stern, Max Von Seydow, Woody Allen, Carrie Fisher, and the Academy Award winners (for this film) Diane Weist and Michael Cain.

JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO Remember this? The first Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan star vehicle? John Patrick Shanley, who won an Academy Award for his Moonstruck screenplay, wrote and directed this equally bewitching and utterly original fable about a man who has six months to live. He makes a deal with an eccentric philanthropic millionaire (Lloyd Bridges) to jump in a volcano on a remote island. During his journey, he meets three women, all hilariously played by Meg Ryan. One of them might be his soulmate. Much better than Sleepless In Seattle and its grammatically offensive sausage link, You致e Got Mail.

L.A. STORY Steve Martin痴 sidesplitting valentine to the City Of Angels. Martin stars as weatherman Harris B. Telemacher, a man who receives advice from freeway signs on how to improve his existence. Martin痴 then-real-life wife Victoria Tennant plays the object of his affections, competing against her overly-passionate ex-boyfriend, played by the always charming Richard E. Grant. Made in 1990, all the jokes about L.A. still hold true, making this one of the funniest films of all time.

LOVE AND BASKETBALL One of the most underrated films of 2000, this thoughtful and well-acted movie tells the story of a boy and girl who meet at age 12, have a passion for basketball, and grow up together through high school, college, and everything after. One of the things that makes this movie work has to do with the casting of the main characters as kids. They hired the right kids to start this movie off, signaling that, while the movie may be on the tad predictable side, you will like the characters. Starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan as the adults.

NINOTCHKA For those who want an old-time, old-fashioned, black-and-white classic romance, you need look no further. While some of its social commentary will be outdated, I find it worth watching since Billy Wilder wrote the script and Greta Garbo appears in her one and only comedy.

THE ROAD HOME Zhang Yimou痴 vivid meditation on first love comes to life surrounded by picture-perfect country vistas. A widow wants to take her husband痴 dead body up the long and winding road where they first met decades ago when he came to her town impersonating a schoolteacher. No other movie of 2001 captured the wonders of Mother Nature the way this movie did. Also, the great Zhang Ziyi (of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) shows that she has many qualities as an actress without having to kick some ass in order to demonstrate them (not that I mind watching her kick ass, of course). She can be just as sentimental and endearing as a mischievous brunette waif living in Paris. A truly wonderful romantic film.

SOMETHING WILD Made in 1986, this movie still lives up to its title. Jonathan Demme (Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia) directed this comedy starring Jeff Daniels as an uptight yuppie and Melanie Griffith as Lulu, the wild thing who kidnapps him and loosens him up. Ray Liotta plays Lulu痴 psychotic old high school sweetheart, and once he enters the picture, the movie seamlessly switches gears and turns into a thriller, building to a heart-stopping climax.

THE SURE THING Rob Reiner痴 take on It Happened One Night stars John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga in the Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert roles, Cusack being a likable slob on his way to a 都ure thing sex romp and Zuniga being a repressed, anti-beer drinking straight-A student on her way to see her boring boyfriend. Made in 1985, this belongs on a short list of 80痴 comedies that haven稚 dated, thanks to good writing and hilarious situations. Look for Tim Robbins as a Ned Flanders-type who loves to sing show tunes.

link directly to this feature at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=327
originally posted: 02/13/01 14:28:42
last updated: 02/08/02 19:06:38
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