Our guide to Date Movies
What do we look for, when we take a girl (or a guy) to a movie? The same thing as when we take them to a restaurant, I guess (or to bed): shared pleasure.
I don’t know of any industry statistics about the percentage of the audience made up by courting couples, but we all know a trip to the movies is one of the most popular dating choices, and has been ever since the cinema opened its darkened doors. Back in the day, this was one place where young lovers could go to be alone in public – no chaperone necessary. As someone remarks in one of Preston Sturges’ classic screwball comedies, “I like the movies – you get to hold hands.”
Other things too, of course, if you’re lucky. Remember that scene in Diner, when… was it Mickey Rourke?... infiltrated the popcorn carton with his dingaling in a desperately classy bid to win a bet that his date would touch it?
But it’s not just the mild eroticism of proximity in the dark, or even the allure of watching beautiful people doing exciting things, films are also a way to spend time together in those early stages of a relationship when conversation can be challenging – Adam Sandler beat up the bathroom in Punch Drunk Love – and an immediate compatibility test.
When Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) chooses to take Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to a Times Square porno on their first date, well, it’s a cinch that there won’t be a second. Would Taxi Driver make a great date movie? Only if she’s the right girl. As a rule of thumb, you probably want to steer clear of bloodbaths and psychopaths – though it’s also true that horror movies are considered a turn-on for teens. Presumably anyone looks better in comparison with Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees.
You could go the opposite route and try to impress with your good taste and sophistication. In Annie Hall – a deliciously funny date movie about dating – Woody Allen drags a reluctant Diane Keaton to see the epic French documentary The Sorrow And The Pity (again), which might be asking a lot. If you’re going to go art-house, I’d try something a little sexier – maybe Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express or In the Mood for Love.
On the other hand I once went on a date to Bergman’s “Silence of God” Trilogy (her choice) – five hours of Scandinavian existentialist angst – and now we’re married, so sometimes it pays to get serious.
Laughter is good, and can tell you a lot about a person. I’d nix anyone who didn’t love His Girl Friday and The Man With Two Brains. Music is good too, and The Commitments has both. More recently, Once is a lovely little movie about two people falling in love as they make beautiful music together. And then there’s Before Sunset, in which Julie Delpy rekindles longings in the unhappily married Ethan Hawke, with food and wine, good conversation, a stroll through Paris and a gentle song… The perfect date, and another date movie to remember.
5 DATE MOVIES (Tried and Tested)
1. Annie Hall
Along with Manhattan, Woody Allen at his most romantic
It’s not very original, but it still works – time after time.
From Hong Kong with Love: Wong Kar Wai’s valentine to urban romance.
AND FIVE NIGHTMARE DATE MOVIES TO AVOID
In which love turns into a nightmare.
5. Dead Ringers
Cronenberg’s icky tale of twin gynecologists – a real leg-crosser.
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