Thursday, February 14, 2019

24 Hours of Movies: Valentine

by Patrick Bromley
Celebrate love by watching way too many movies.

Since watching movies has become my preferred way to celebrate any and every occasion, it just makes sense to program an all day, all night marathon devoted to love, both romantic and otherwise. I know this day isn't everyone's bag, but how can you dislike it when it gives you an excuse to watch a bunch of really cool movies?

10 am - A Life Less Ordinary (1997, dir. Danny Boyle)
I usually program a classic film first for these marathons, giving the illusion that they will be chronological even though they never are. But I want to start this one with a bang, and Danny Boyle's underrated road fantasy is just the sugar rush we need to kick things off. Ewan McGregor is a sad-sack would-be kidnapper and Cameron Diaz is the heiress he snatches, but she's really calling the shots and the two of them fall in love with the help of two angels (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) who spend much of the movie trying to kill them. It's going to be too twee for some audiences, piling on the '90s quirk as it does, but it's so fun and big-hearted and there's a musical number set to "Beyond the Sea" halfway through and we'll be feeling good about love and in the mood for more.

Noon - Ninotchka (1939, dir. Ernst Lubitsch)
Erika and I just watched this Ernst Lubitsch classic for the first time and both found it incredibly romantic, presenting a Parisian count (Melvyn Douglas) who falls hopelessly in love with a stony, serious Russian woman (Greta Garbo) in Paris on national business. It's refreshing to see a comedy from this era (era) that doesn't put the lovers at odds with one another, instead offering a romance that feels warm and genuine. Both stars are so good at creating characters who genuinely like one another as well as love one another. Most movies forget the first part.

2 pm - Mannequin (1987, dir. Michael Gottlieb)
When programming marathons like this, you have to sometimes include movies that provide a total and complete break from having to think at all. That's Mannequin. This is a movie that was written and made and released into theaters and made money. It is a profoundly stupid movie that works because of just how sincerely Andrew McCarthy and (especially) Kim Cattrall approach the material. Everyone else in the film is in a big, broad 1960s musical (I have argued for years that this movie is made for the stage), but the romance at the center is genuinely sweet, despite how fucked up it is.

3:30 pm - La Belle et La BĂȘte (1946, dir. Jean Cocteau)
One of my favorite movies of all time is also one of my favorite movie romances, mostly for what it has to say about how it's better to love a freak who's interesting than a handsome nothing. Cinema doesn't get much more beautiful or magical than this. It's also appropriate to watch today because Erika's dad called her 'la belle' when she was a little girl. That makes me La BĂȘte. Sounds about right.

5:15 pm - Streets of Fire (1984, dir. Walter Hill)
Walter Hill is such a muscular, macho filmmaker that it's amazing to me he had something this romantic in him. Streets of Fire is one of my major Exploding Heart movies, so it deserves a spot in our Valentine's Day marathon. It's not explicitly about love necessarily -- it is, but that's just part of the picture Walter Hill is painting. The whole thing is bursting with romantic ideas and imagery and music and joy, and while it might not be an obvious choice for a Valentine's Day marathon, it's a very romantic movie in our house.

7 pm - True Romance (1993, dir. Tony Scott)
The centerpiece of our whole marathon is a movie that felt as ripped from my brain when I saw it as a teenager as it does now. It's a movie with everything, one that never gets old. This is the movie I plan to watch on Valentine's Day with my very own Alabama.

9:15 pm - Spring (2015, dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead)
It's getting a little later now, and while we're not getting fully weird just yet, Spring is a step in the right direction. It's just the right mix of endearing romance and monster movie -- the Before movies by way of H.P. Lovecraft. The actors are great and the scenery is impossibly pretty. I know Cronenberg's The Fly is probably still the best horror movie romance, but why doesn't this movie get talked about more?

11:15 pm - My Bloody Valentine (1981, dir. George Mihalka)
I'm nothing if not unoriginal.

12:45 am - The Whip and the Body (1963, dir. Mario Bava)
Ok, our traditional Italian horror block has arrived because it's the middle of the night and we're sleep deprived and the pepperoni on the heart-shaped pizzas we ate earlier is causing us to hallucinate. There's something inherently romantic about Mario Bava's lush photography and gothic settings, but this one is probably way hotter if you're into being abused by Christopher Lee. That pretty much covers all of us.

2:15 am - Cemetery Man (1994, dir. Michele Soavi)
There aren't a ton of Italian horror films I would call "romantic" (New York Ripper aside), which is a big part of what makes Michele Soavi's Cemetery Man (aka Dellamorte Dellamore) that much more special. It's deeply romantic without losing any of what makes Italian horror movies so unique and singular. Rupert Everett plays the groundskeeper of a cemetery who watches over and makes sure the dead stay dead, but things are complicated when he falls in love with a woman. Because the woman is played by Anna Falchi, no one can blame him. This is a weird, dreamy, beautiful movie that would play so, so well at this time of night.

4:15 am - Yoga Hosers (2016, dir. Kevin Smith)
It's late/early and our brains our fried, so let's go with something goofy and stupid and not unlike a Saturday morning cartoon. The reason I'm picking Yoga Hosers -- arguably Kevin Smith's least-loved movie (by the public at large, anyway; I remain a fan) -- is because it's a movie that says not all love need be romantic. Maybe your best friend is your valentine, and all you want to do is hang out with that person and joke around and have fun and play in your band together and fight off evil Nazi bratwurst creatures. The love between two best friends is some of the best love any of us get to feel. Yoga Hosers gets that right.

6 am - Valley Girl (1983, dir. Martha Coolidge)
I want to program an '80s teen romance in this spot, and listening to the latest episode of Brian Saur's Just the Discs podcast reminded me that Valley Girl is one of the better young love stories of that decade. I've also seen it way less than John Hughes' filmography, meaning it will feel somewhat new while still being familiar. It's the perfect movie to get us to the finish line.

8 am - Punch-Drunk Love (2003, dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
What better movie to close out when we've been watching movies for 24 hours and are totally punch drunk than this one? When the strings on the soundtrack swell and the image dissolves into just a bunch of colors on screen, we won't be sure whether that's the movie we're watching or if we're just going crazy. It's perfect! Paul Thomas Anderson didn't make a movie about what being in love looks like; he made one about how it feels.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.


  1. This is a great list. My Bloody Valentine is an appropriate inclusion, for love can make you want to cut out people's hearts and send them in candy boxes to those you hate.

    The Whip and The Body is a great selection here. It was a re-watch this past Scary Movie Month, and I really enjoyed its dark romance. The way Lee was photographed entering scenes is very beautiful, too. It is available on Prime in a Double Doses of Horror package.

    It has been a long time since I watched La Belle et La Bete, but it was a favorite during my college European art film days. I have never seen a better live-action fairy tale film.

  2. Patrick starting with A Life Less Ordinary is proof he's my spirit animal.

  3. I feel like Punch-Drunk Love and true romance are spiritually connected. I'm not sure why I just think they are.

  4. Who knew NINOTCHKA and TRUE ROMANCE had so much in common? ;) <3