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, 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
Local

Protesters say new Met Opera is anti-Semitic

Protesters, including a former mayor and governor, gathered outside of the Metropolitan Opera on Monday afternoon to protest the opening of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Local

Brooklyn girl's death ruled a homicide

The New York City Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a Brooklyn toddler a homicide. Jeida Torres, 3, was found bruised and unresponsive Saturday…

Local

New York City continues to prepare for Ebola…

New York City continues to prepare for the possibility of Ebola. There have been numerous scares, but no confirmed cases. Representatives from about 150 unions…

Local

NYPD nabs alleged serial bank robber

  The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for multiple Manhattan bank robberies this month. Police have arrested a Brooklyn man they…

Entertainment

We the Economy: Morgan Spurlock's new crusade

If Morgan Spurlock gets his way, you won't be able to avoid We the Economy, the series of 20 shorts films curated by the "Super…

Arts

3 Parody plays lampoon your childhood, adulthood and…

Whether you loved the source material or you're going in blind, these parody plays have something for every audience member. We rate three of NYC's hottest satirical shows.

Gossip

Who has more power: Harry Styles or Amal…

Amal Clooney comes in fourth on The Evening Standard's Most Influential Londoners list.

Music

#AskPaul McCartney reveals his love of American pop…

For an Englishman, Paul McCartney's pop culture tastes would fit right in stateside. The former Beatle (@PaulMcCartney) revealed that he has a real thing for…

NFL

John Idzik: 'We did a ton of background'…

Given John Idzik spent the previous five years with the Seahawks before he joined the Jets last January, there is a comfort level for the organization.

NFL

Jets add sizzle to struggling passing game with…

The Jets’ trade for Percy Harvin may have an air of desperation on the surface, but at 1-6 this season is hanging only by a thread.

NFL

Jason Pierre-Paul: 'We've got to regroup' during bye…

“We’ve got to regroup and figure out what went wrong,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “When we come back, we want to be a great team.”

NFL

Breno Giacomini: Media blowing up Golden Tate-Percy Harvin…

According to Breno Giacomini, the fight between Golden Tate and Percy Harvin during Super Bowl week was over by the time the lineman turned around.

Education

Is a 'gap year' after high school for…

It’s a familiar script that millions of students follow each year: Graduate high school and then immediately start college. But more and more students are…

Parenting

New news about Kate Middleton's pregnancy

The Palace released a statement about Kate Middleton's pregnancy.

Parenting

Cool book for kids: 'The Princess In Black'

"The Princess In Black" will change the way girls view princesses.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…