Treats for All Tastes: The LOVEFiLM Instant Movie Guide to Romance
“Life is like a box of chocolates,” said Forrest Gump’s mum. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
To which we say, it usually helps to read the description.
At any rate, once you’ve got your chews sorted, there are enough choices for every Valentine’s Day eventuality available on LOVEFiLM Instant. Here are ten tasty treats (plus one for luck) to help get you started…
Rum and Raisin: ADVENTURELAND
A teen movie for people who have grown past adolescence, this tart, semi-autobiographical comedy from the director of Superbad pairs Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as theme park coworkers whose mutual attraction proves quite the emotional rollercoaster. All the teen staples are present and correct, but the movie is surprisingly subtle and nuanced, and there are delicious cameos from Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the park’s married management.
Vanilla: VALENTINE’S DAY
Ashton Kutcher delivers flowers to an all-star clientele in this proudly cheesy rom-com from the people who brought us New Year’s Day. It’s a US Love, Actually, if you will. Who’s in it? Who isn’t? Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Julia and Emma Roberts, Taylors Swift and Lautner… There’s somebody for everyone, that’s the point.
Hazelnut Whip: SECRETARY
Prefer something a little spicier? Quite a lot spicier, in fact. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the new office girl who wants nothing more than to be at the beck and call of manager James Spader day and night. I don’t what it is about Spader but at least he’s not getting off on car wrecks in this one. This is a kinky S&M comedy which bypasses camp in favour of something altogether more risqué; it’s sinfully sexy and sexily sincere.
Chili & Ginger: BLUE VALENTINE
Now, let’s be clear: this is definitely not a great romantic date movie, even though it does star everybody’s favourite dreamboat, Ryan Gosling, and the equally scrumptious Michelle Williams. As the title sort of hints, Blue Valentine is actually an anti-romance, a love story about a couple after their “happily ever after” moment has passed, when things are coming off the rails. If you’re young and in love, maybe you don’t want to see this. But if you have been around the block a few times, maybe there is something in here you can relate to. And maybe the knowledge that you are not alone when you’re feeling alone is something we can all use, from time to time.
Caramel: PRETTY WOMAN
On the other hand, it’s Valentine’s Day, maybe what we all really want is the reassurance that fairy tales can come true, even on Sunset Boulevard. This slick and sassy rom-com made Julia Roberts a star. She’s the Hollywood hooker who gets a dream date with Richard Gere’s millionaire financial whiz, and rocks his world. Shopping and, uh, fooling around, what’s not to enjoy?
Peanut Crunch: GOING THE DISTANCE
Did I already tell you, Drew Barrymore sent me a bouquet of flowers once? It’s true. And she’s never put a foot wrong since, not in my book. This is a relatively sharp contemporary rom-com about two people (Justin Long is the other one, lucky dog) who are trying to reconcile their passionate compatibility with independent careers on opposite sides of the continental shelf. It’s got good jokes and characters you can relate to, plus eels, Cat Power and The Cure on the soundtrack.
Cherry Bombe: ENCHANTED
Another fairy tale come true. Amy Adams – a long way from administering to The Master – is cartoon Princess Giselle, brought to flesh and blood in modern day Manhattan by the curse of the evil queen Narisa (Susan Sarandon). This peppy musical comedy is the kind of Disney movie you want your little princesses to grow up watching, one that suggests that messy three dimensional humans may be a better bet than perfect blue blood fantasies.
Mint Chocolate Pop Rocks: SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD
What if your sexy new girlfriend came with baggage in the form of seven evil exes, all of whom must be defeated in combat before your relationship can blossom? Well, it would be kind of fun, actually, if Edgar Wright’s quirky, Spaced-out teen fantasia is anything to go by. Michael Cera stars with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Anna Kendrick is in it too, which is generally recommendation enough for anyone who has been paying attention.
If we’re going to have romantic trifles, then let them all star Audrey Tautou (she seems game, after all). She’s lovely, as always, as a young woman traumatized by the unexpected passing of her husband. Three years later, someone new comes along, but he’s not what anyone might have expected for her. Oh, so sweet!
Dark Chocolate: CRUEL INTENTIONS
This is another less than romantic choice. Rather than love, it’s a film about seduction, the way that men and women manipulate each other in bed and out of it. So be careful who you watch with! At heart, it’s Dangerous Liaisons goes to Manhattan preparatory school, a strenuously urbane examination of the louche unleashed. Ryan Philippe is the debauched and irresistible rake played by John Malkovich in the Stephen Frears movie, and his future ex Reese Witherspoon is the demure virgin he stakes his reputation on seducing. Plus Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) in the buff!
Bonus Choc: Champagne Truffle: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE
If you’re really after an affair to remember, this bittersweet love letter from grand master Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai is just the ticket. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung are the lonely neighbours who are drawn together by the prolonged absences of their respective spouses. When they are realize why those absences always coincide they are shocked and hurt, and in their imaginations they begin to rehearse their revenge… A hypnotic, intoxicating film, In the Mood for Love is radically experimental, but only ever concerned with revealing the human heart. Wong never shows us the spouses. He structures the movie as a cycle of myriad echoes and repetitions. It is a rigorously repressed formal conceit. Yet in the space between the repetitions we sense everything that cannot be said: desire, passion, rapture and rhapsody, every shade of love.