Celebrate Valentine’s Day Weekend With These Anti-Romantic Films

Kathryn Harrold and Albert Brooks in 'Modern Romance' Columbia Pictures
Kathryn Harrold and Albert Brooks in ‘Modern Romance’

Valentine’s Day itself has come and gone, thankfully, but not every couple was able to celebrate their love on a Thursday. That means the festivities can conceivably last throughout the weekend. And that means the single and lonely – as well as less amorous duos – still have the chance of being traumatized by happy lovers staring into eachother’s eyes and engaging in gory PDAs.

To counteract the wrath of St. Valentine (about whom, as a person, very little is known, for the record), here is a handful of anti-romantic films, in which coupling does not quite work out:

“The Awful Truth” (1937): The screwball comedies of the 1930s offered a respite from the more sincere traditional romantic comedies of the era. They still do. Manic in tone and pace, they also offered refreshingly skeptical, if not cynical, looks at romance. Leo McCarey (“Duck Soup,” “An Affair to Remember”) won a directing Oscar for this cockeyed comedy, in which a wealthy couple (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne) break up and struggle to not reunite. Spoiler: they get back together, but it’s not without a fight. Or several of them.

“We Won’t Grow Old Together” (1972): Best Title Ever. Maurice Pialat is France’s most sour filmmaker, which is saying something, and this is his most sour film, which is also saying something. Jumping through time, eliding no doubt even more unpleasant moments than we see, it details a couple (Marlène Jobert and Jean Yanne) who shouldn’t be together. She’s mousy; he’s a jerk (and likely based on Pialat himself, who was notoriously temperamental with his actors). Don’t worry: the title is accurate.

“Annie Hall” (1977): In its original form, Woody Allen’s Best Picture winner was a shapeless, epic (read: around 2 ½ hours long) exploration of the memories and absurdist observations of Woody stand-in Alvy Singer. In post-production, Woody and his editor realized the scenes with Alvy’s girlfriend (Diane Keaton) worked better than the rest of it. What started out as a free-form experimental narrative became a still quite experimental look at the rise and fall of a relationship – one of cinema’s saddest, most honest and, of course, funniest.

“Modern Romance” (1981): Though he’s sometimes misinterpreted as Woody Allen-lite, Albert Brooks offers the dark side of the more famous comic director: where Woody’s screen persona is ultimately lovable and righteously anxious, Brooks’ is selfish, needy, obsessive and, sometimes, sociopathic. It’s not a comforting sign that Stanley Kubrick was a huge fan of Brooks’ second directorial outing, in which his Hollywood editor breaks up with his beautiful if insecure girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold), regrets it, tries to win her back and then, once they’re reunited, instantly suspects her of infidelity. These are two people who shouldn’t be mating, although it’s debatable that Brooks’ monstrous need monster should be mating with anyone. (New Yorkers: this weekend Anthology Film Archives – under the program title “Valentine’s Day Massacre” – screens “Romance” with the aforementioned “We Won’t Grow Old Together.” As a friend pointed out, they’re basically the same movie, although one’s a little funnier.)

“The War of the Roses” (1988): Danny DeVito has a dark sense of humor, and it’s arguably never been put to better use than in his uncompromisingly pitch black look at a couple (Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas) who fall in love, fall out of love and then sport fisticuffs and other blunt objects in a battle over their beloved manse. Even when you think they’re going to reunite, the film finds a way to swat that feeling away – at one point, literally.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004): Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman’s time-jumping break-up film – which liberally borrows the premise of Alain Resnais’ 1968 French film “Je t’aime, je t’aime” – finds Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet each erasing memories of their failed relationship. Of course, that means they may just fall back in love, then spectacularly out of it, again. In fact, Kaufman has said his original ending would have had them doing just that, over and over again, until their deaths.

“(500) Days of Summer” (2009): Emo boys have tried to co-opt this as a portrait of a nice guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) whose heart is ground into dirt by a cute mean girl (Zooey Deschanel). But even Gordon-Levitt has voiced opposition to this reading, pointing out that it’s really an unflattering portrayal of nice guys, who, the film argues, are self-absorbed, oblivious to others and contaminated by romantic delusion.

“The Future” (2011): No matter what you think of Miranda July’s performance art, her feature-length films (this and “Me and You and Everyone We Know”) are far more interesting than they perhaps should be. After a periodically intolerable first half, her second film turns into a perversely bleak look at a couple (July and Hamish Linklater) drifting apart. The devastating final shot, which seems to last forever, is as grounded in reality as the beginning was lost in irritating quirk.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

PHOTO: Australian hockey players get photobombed by Queen…

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…