Today is Valentine's Day, and thus it's a natural assumption that Hollywood would be turning toward romances and romantic comedies this week. And indeed, it did.
"Fool's Gold," starring the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks-lite pairing of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, opened last week to commercial, if not critical success. "27 Dresses," with Katherine Heigl, has been playing for a couple of weeks and looks to be a solid, if typical, chick-flick. And "Juno," this year's little-movie-that-could, is still raking it in at the box office.
So, there's at least three legitimate romantic choices out there for your Valentine date, but to be honest, I've seen none of them. "27 Dresses" looks to be the most chicky of the flicks, and I just couldn't get myself worked up to go see a woman who turns out to be the embodiment of the tired old saw, "always a bridesmaid, never a bride." Ehh. And "Fool's Gold" just looks dumb. I didn't particularly like those two in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," and I couldn't see that moving their relationship to a treasure hunt could help much.
"Juno" I did want to see, and am mad that I missed it. There's a movie that has been liked by virtually everyone who's seen it and is up for Best Picture, no less. Who knows, if the double-shot of depression that is "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" split the grim-vote, "Juno" could even pull out a win. And I missed it. Drat!
Last year at this time I laid out a some of what I consider to be the best romantic movies of all time, much to the chagrin of at least a few of my female readers. I guess, though I figured that choices like "Roman Holiday," "When Harry Met Sally ...," and "The Princess Bride" were pretty safe bets, maybe I don't know the mind of the ladies like I thought I did. So this year, I'm going to go in a completely different direction: Romance Movies for Guys! No, really.
1. 'True Romance'
Tony Scott's hectic, blood-soaked shoot-em-up is, despite the high body-count and incredibly colorful language, one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are on the run from drug dealers, cops, crooked Hollywood producers and the mob, but they only have eyes for each other. Watch for an early cameo by a very stoned Brad Pitt as well as a pre-"Sopranos" James Gandalfini. Bonus points if you can figure out who is playing a barely glimpsed Elvis. Written by Quentin Tarantino just after he made "Reservoir Dogs," "Romance's" dialogue crackles. Almost as good as the mix of romance and gunplay is the iconic pairing of Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in an unforgettable scene.
2. 'The Getaway'
I'm not talking about the Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger remake of this movie, so if you go to rent it, look for the one and only Steve McQueen. Director Sam Peckinpah, who was the granddaddy of graphic action violence, made quite a few worthwhile films, from "The Wild Bunch" to "Straw Dogs," but the most romantic of all is his tale of a professional thief who uses his wife's wiles to get him out of jail, and then ends up on the run with a woman he can't trust. While shooting their way across central and west Texas, McQueen and co-star Ali McGraw (who is famous for being the star of the weeper "Love Story" a movie that won't make this list) actually fell in love, leading her to leave her powerful producer husband for her handsome and mercurial leading man. Ahhh. What's a romance without a little heartbreak?
3. 'Bonnie & Clyde'
While Peckinpah, in 1972, may have been forging ahead into the relatively new world of love and bullets, he had someone to help pave the way for him. Arthur Penn's classic love-on-the-run flick may be revisionist history, but it's damn good nonetheless. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are just two wild kids who can't get enough of each other. Unfortunately, their other passion is bank robbery and Tommy guns, and like all anti-heroes, Bonnie and Clyde are going to get it in the end. Their dramatic bullet-riddled death scene is one of the great bullet-riddled death scenes of modern cinema.
OK, granted, the girl dies in the first 20 minutes or so of the three-hour epic. But isn't it romantic that Mel Gibson paints his face and takes on the entire English army for his lost lady love? Plus, there's another girl later, so what more do you want? Probably the only romance movie that includes multiple limb severings as well as an evisceration. "FREEEEEEDOOOMMM!" is just another way to say "I Love You."
5. 'Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid'
This movie wouldn't normally be considered a romance, as the girl in it is only secondary to our two heroic pals, but it is indicative of the ultimate guy romance the bromance. That's right, these movies do away with the girls altogether and get to the heart of what the men really want guy bonding. These include "City Slickers," "Starsky & Hutch," most of the Will Ferrell movies, "Grumpy Old Men," and, depending on your point of view, "Brokeback Mountain."
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.
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