movies you can add to your Netflix queue to give you and yours
that warm romantic feeling By Shawn Stone
The Band Wagon
is a love story set in the world of showbiz that’s
also a love letter to showbiz. Fred Astaire is a has-been
Hollywood song-and-dance man returning to Broadway. Cyd Charisse
is a classical dancer making her Broadway debut. There’s an
eerie sense of mortality, as the aging hoofer faces his declining
career prospects and has to learn to dance with this young
ballerina; they fall in love as everything around them is
comically falling apart. The key moment is one of the most
graceful dance scenes either ever performed. On Vincente Minnelli’s
MGM soundstage vision of New York’s Central Park, painted
skyline and all, the world glows in Technicolor as Fred and
Cyd glide to Schwartz and Dietz’s haunting “Dancing in the
Dark.” The quicksilver aspect of love has never been evoked
in a more beautiful way.
3. Before Sunset
two films are this generation’s great romantic comedies. From
1995, Before Sunrise follows a just-met young couple
(Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) as they wander around Vienna.
They talk about everything and nothing, and fall in love.
From 2004, Before Sunset finds them reunited in Paris,
a decade older but not necessarily wiser; the fresh-faced
optimism of the earlier film has given way to middle-age doubt
(and a few wrinkles, mostly on Hawke). You know what’s really
funny about Richard Linklater’s separated-by-nine-years double
feature? All through Before Sunrise, you’re never sure
how it will end; from the moment the lovers are reunited in
Before Sunset, there isn’t a shred of doubt what’s
going to happen.
that scene in Walk the Line when Joaquin Phoenix, sweaty
and jerky as a drugged-out Johnny Cash, walks those long miles
to June Carter’s house to prove his love? This gesture has
nothing on David Thewlis’ character in Bernardo Bertolucci’s
lovely Besieged, the ultimate prove-your-love story.
Thewlis is a Brit living in a beautiful (if rough) old house
in Italy, who develops a crush on his housekeeper (Thandie
Newton). A classic First World twit, he does know she’s from
someplace in Africa and that she’s a medical student. What
he doesn’t know—but we in the audience do, from the film’s
harrowing opening—is that she’s a refugee, and her husband
is a political prisoner. When he finally begs her to tell
him what he can do to prove his love, she tells him to “bring
me my husband.” Which he then goes about doing, selling off
his possessions, one by one, to raise bribe money to get the
never-seen husband out of jail. There’s no happy way for this
story to end, but the acting and direction are so delicate
and heartbreaking that the film is strangely uplifting.
Love Me Tonight
you stand in front of a train, singing, to stop your lover
from leaving? Well that’s just what Jeanette MacDonald does
to win back Maurice Chevalier in this, one of the greatest
of all movie musicals. A witty Rodgers and Hart score is complemented
by an equally charming script about a tailor who ends up winning
the love of a princess. Give this one a chance—even people
who hate musicals love it.
Out of Sight
is the movie in which George Clooney became the modern-day
Cary Grant. (I know, because The New York Times said
so.) He plays a convict who falls in love with U.S. Marshall
Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez), who he inadvertently kidnaps
while escaping from a Federal pen. (It plays better than it
reads. Trust me.) Nobody makes movie stars look better than
director Steven Soderbergh does; Clooney and Lopez have never
been more magnetic on screen.
Thomas Anderson’s film boldly makes the case that there is
someone out there for everyone—even the quirky, yearning,
rage-filled salesman played by Adam Sandler. Dressed in a
radioactive blue suit, Sandler’s weirdness is matched by his
mate’s self-awareness; his beloved (Emily Watson) loves him
because he’s crazy. And because she’s out of her mind,
too. They share the most demented pillow talk you’ll ever
hear in a movie: “I’m lookin’ at your face and I just wanna
smash it. I just wanna fuckin’ smash it with a sledgehammer
and squeeze it. You’re so pretty.” (Sigh.)
can have Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There’s so much wrong
with that movie I can’t see how anyone could get a romantic
vibe from it. (Seriously, George Peppard as a romantic hero?
Meh.) If you really want to bask in the cinemagic that is
Audrey Hepburn, try this romantic fantasy about a European
princess’ incognito day-and-night on the town in Rome with
American reporter Gregory Peck. Funny and bittersweet, with
an ending that packs an emotional wallop.
when Jonathan Demme made good movies—before he became a Great
Director—he made this slick, sexy, violent little romance.
Melanie Griffith, in a black Lulu wig, is a sexual troublemaker;
Jeff Daniels is an uptight yuppie loser; and Ray Liotta is
lethal danger as Griffith’s ex-con hubby. The combustible
combination of the three leads to a series of confrontations
that make the cost of some kinds of love painfully clear.
Trouble in Paradise
sophisticated it almost hurts, Ernst Lubitsch’s romantic comedy
isn’t really a romantic comedy. It’s a story of crooks both
high and low, wrapped up with sex and jealousy and love, and
staged on Art Deco sets so gorgeous they radiate glamour.
A gentleman thief (Herbert Marshall) is torn between his lovely
partner-in-crime (Miriam Hopkins) and the wealthy widow (Kay
Francis) who owns all those gleaming Art Deco furnishings;
every corner of this triangle gets their due. It’s the ultimate