Well, for those not looking to be stuck alone at home watching a marathon of Sleepless in Seattle on TNT, here’s Mark Rozeman’s list for you taken from pastemagazine.com It compiles the films perfectly designed for those disillusioned or made bitter by love’s hurtful sting.
13. The Break-Up (2006)
At the time of its release, The Break-Up appeared to draw more attention for the burgeoning relationship between co-stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston than for its actual quality. Certainly, the trailer did little to assure moviegoers that the film would be anything but a goofy romp in which Vaughn’s and Anniston’s characters pull increasingly wacky pranks on each other in order to seize control of their impressive Chicago condo.
12. Ruby Sparks (2012)
In his review for the much-maligned Cameron Crowe project Elizabethtown, AV Club writer Nathan Rabin coined the now ubiquitous phrase “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” Writing about the film’s female lead (played by Kirsten Dunst), Rabin highlighted the archetype of the lively, quirky girl who becomes a shot in the arm to her dour and/or depressed male lead. Written by and co-starring Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks seems to have been created specifically as a reaction to this type of character.
11. In the Realm of the Senses (1976)
Read the true story that this Criterion-approved Japanese-French film based its plotline on and you’ll have an idea why it would make for the worst kind of Valentine’s Day viewing. Directed by the late Nagisa Oshima, the film revolves around the perverse relationship between a hotel maid and the employer who molests her. This tryst leads to an intense, long-term sexual affair where the two indulge in every kind of experimentation you can imagine.
10. The War of the Roses (1989)
Never has the phrase “love is a battlefield” been taken more literally than in Danny Devito’s sophomore directorial outing. An acerbic black comedy based on a 1981 novel of the same name, The War of the Roses stars Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as a well-to-do couple whose crumbling marriage becomes a launching pad for a vicious, no-holds-barred war for control of their home and possessions.
9. Bad Timing (1980)
It’s a story of obsession and domination. Slammed by many at the time of its release, one official from the film’s U.K. distribution company famously dubbed it “a sick film made by sick people for sick people.” Nevertheless, it’s reputation has grown in recent years, culminating in a Criterion Collection release. Still, this toxic romance remains a brutal, disconcerting narrative to sit through. You’ll certainly not be able to shake certain images of Art Garfunkel after it’s all over.
8. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
“This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should known in advance, this is not a love story,” intones the voiceover at the start of this bittersweet romantic comedy. True to those words, what unfolds is not quite the light, sunshine-y narrative indicated by the film’s vibrant color spectrum. Subverting notions of the typical rom-com, Summer acknowledges the all-too-true notion that sometimes, without definite rhythm or reason, a relationship can just not work out—no matter how badly you want it to.
7. Sleepwalk with Me (2012)
Mike Birbiglia’s directorial debut is a Portrait of the Comedian as an Awkward Stand Up. Throughout the film, we witness Birbiglia’s dramatic surrogate, Matt Pandamiglio, slowly transition from telling stiff, half-baked jokes to weaving insightful and humorous anecdotes based on his life and relationships.
6. Closer (2004)
Directed by the legendary Mike Nichols, this adaptation of Patrick Marber’s award-winning play of the same name is a scathing, cynical sneer at modern-day relationships, starring a quartet of some of the most hateful, insensitive characters ever put to film. Needless to say infidelities, broken trust and shattered promises abound. Natalie Portman earned her first Oscar nomination as perhaps the most innocent and naïve of the four (who just happens to be a stripper). Clive Owen, however, shines as the crass, boorish dentist prone to proclaiming whatever pops into his sick mind (he’s also probably the most honest one in the group). A venomous Valentine if there ever was one, Closer remains one of the worst first-date movies ever made.
5. Husbands & Wives (1992)
As with several entries on this list, Woody Allen’s 1992 domestic drama was overshadowed by behind-the-scenes drama. Prior to the film’s release, Allen’s relationship with longtime partner (and co-star) Mia Farrow went up in smoke after it was revealed that he’d been engaging in a sexual affair with her 19-year-old adopted daughter. With this news still fresh in the tabloids, the narrative, which displays marital discord in all its ugly glory, inevitably invited real-life parallels. Allen’s use of handheld, documentary-like camerawork only serves to highlight the bleakness and harsh reality of the situation. While films such as Annie Hall and Manhattan will always stand as major career apexes in Allen’s career, Husbands & Wivesserves as an underrated masterpiece in his lengthy filmography.
4. Brief Encounter (1945)
For most, the name David Lean evokes images of sprawling, three-plus hour epic masterpieces such asLawrence of Arabia or The Bridge Over River Kwai. Yet perhaps one of the British’s director’s most powerful outings is a small-scale movie about a doomed relationship that barely clocks in under 90 minutes. Celia Johnson stars as a bored British housewife who finds herself drawn to a married doctor that she meets at a train station. Over the course of several weeks, the two soon realize their relationship and attraction to each other is far from innocuous. Based on a one-act play by Noël Coward, Brief Encounterpaints a dreary look at traditional British marriages and examines the depressing concept of knowing that the one you truly love might have been yours under different circumstances.
3. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
No one does angst-ridden relationship dramas quite like Sweden’s Ingmar Bergman. This one is no exception. Made on a shoestring budget and featuring Bergman’s trademark penchant for claustrophobic close-ups and long, soul-baring monologues, the original Swedish TV miniseries ran almost five hours in length. Released as a three-hour cut in U.S. cinemas, the film still proved to be a gut-wrenching examination of a failed marriage. Funny enough, the film becomes notorious in its home country when, in the wake of its release, there was a rapid spike in Scandinavian divorce rates.
2. Blue Valentine (2011)
Blue Valentine is actually two movies. In one, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are two lost souls who find solace in each other’s company. Cindy has emotional baggage stemming from familial trauma whereas Dean is the charming free spirit ready to make the pain go away. When Cindy finds herself pregnant, Dean becomes her emotional support and the two eventually decide to marry. This tale of young love is juxtaposed sharply against the future versions of Dean and Cindy—aged, tired and weary beings who are mere shells of their former exuberant selves. The child, which originally drove them together, now appears to be the last remaining link in their deteriorating relationship. Though one can easily find signs of impending disaster in the early scenes, it does not make watching the slow but inevitable collapse of their marriage any less traumatizing.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Yes, yes, between landing a high spot on Paste’s Top 50 Films of the Decade list as well as one onThe 50 Movies on Netflix Instant list, it seems like there should be some kind of penalty box reserved for Eternal Sunshine. To that I say — can’t fault a masterpiece for being too good.
Unlike other entries in the list, Eternal Sunshine begins with the signature couple already broken up and heart broken. Desperate to rid himself of the memories of the break-up (and, by extension, the pain), Joel enlists a company that specializes in wiping away such memories. Of course, in the middle of the procedure, Joel realizes that some memories are worth holding onto, regardless of the hurt. Though much of the film has Joel and Clementine yearning for each other in their own ways, it’s the story’s conclusion that potential turns this cerebral romantic dramedy into a cosmic tragedy.
While we, as viewers, want more than anything for the oddball coupling of Jim Carrey’s reserved Joel and Kate Winslet’s vivacious Clementine to work itself out, the fact remains that we’ve seen that the two are woefully incompatible in the long run. Thus, though the end leaves the couple with the optimistic hope that they can turn their situation around, the film’s final shoot appears to tell a different story. As credits roll, we see Joel and Clementine frolicking around in the snow. Then the images is repeated again. And again. And again. While director Michel Gondry has stated that he had no grand intention, the repetition of the shot carries an unmistakable implication: Joel and Clementine are trapped in a Sisyphean cycle wherein they break up, wipe their minds then repeat the same process over and over again. Writer Charlie Kaufman’s original draft, which shows an elder Joel and Clementine meeting each other “for the first time” once again, leads some credence to the argument. Whatever the real story, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has safely secured itself as a modern day classic, even if it’s not the cheeriest movie for a romantic movie-night. Read more here: http://bit.ly/XBGk4C