Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Top Ten Most Romantic Films of All Time for Totally Fucked-Up People

After my post yesterday on the Top Ten Most Romantic Films, I thought I'd better balance that saccharine with a strong dose of celluloid reality. Today, the underbelly of the love story. A place full of desperation, mental illness, shame, guilt and sexual perversion. Basically, all the things we probably recognize in our own lives more than what is depicted in any of the films I mentioned yesterday.

So curl up this February 14th with that person who refuses to commit to you; cheats on you; and/or the person that annoys you the most but is wonderful in bed.... with a strong cup of rot gut, a little passive/aggressiveness and Happy Valentine's Day!

10. Donnie Darko

God, I just love this film! It takes you on what you think will be a predictable route, but instead pulls you on a journey through the meaning of love and some of Einstein's more popular theories.
Plus it's one of the most effective tales of modern white boy teenage angst ever depicted.
AND it's the best use of an imaginary rabbit since Harvey.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a troubled teen on meds (Ordinary People like) and he lives in the kind of cookie-cutter neighborhood that ET and Poltergeist made famous. One night he's contacted by a voice that tells him to do things. Bad things.

It starts out like a horror thriller, but then veers into a wonderfully romantic love story between this troubled boy and a girl from school that accepts him the way he is.
The film has fantastic, quirky characters including a Self Help Guru (Patrick Swayze), a liberal teacher (Drew Barrymore who also produced), Grandma Death, Frank the Bunny Rabbit and the curt, clueless shrink (Katherine Ross...hey, it's Sundance's girlfriend!). It's quite fun watching all the storylines weave together into the story to form an acute essay on the absurdity of Americana life and the isolation it tends to breed.
The film has reached cult status which has a lot to do with the main character being depicted as a sociopath, when he is in reality, a hero. Certainly identifiable for any angsty teen boy with a penchant for scifi.
By the time you get to the end, you realize it's one of the most tender love stories in years with a main character that loves his girl unconditionally. Seriously, you'll want to cry!

9. Marnie
This Alfred Hitchcock flick is creepy in more ways than one, as Sean Connery tries to seduce the cold and compulsive Tippi Hedren as the title character.
Casting one of the most attractive leading men of the time was no mistake! One wonders why the psychologically damaged Marnie doesn't seem to fall in love with him, no matter how much he tries.
Marnie is a thief and distrusts men terribly. When she robs Connery's character, instead of turning her in, he blackmails her into marrying him. Obviously this was made years before the song, "I Can't Make You Love Me If You Don't". On their honeymoon, she won't sleep with him so he rapes her, and the next morning she tries to commit suicide. Eventually, they both decide to make the marriage work.
So a great little fucked-up Valentine for you!

8. The Days of Wine and Roses

This is one of the best films about alcoholism ever made.
Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick star as a young couple who get married then slowly start to spiral into alcoholism in this remarkably honest film by director Blake Edwards.
The scene where Lemmon is looking for his hidden bottle is just brutal, as is the scene where he strikes his own baby.
The painful part of the movie is that fact that Lemmon's character introduces his young wife to alcohol, but then has to make an impossible decision - should he abandon her to save himself? Jack Klugman costars as his AA sponsor.

7. Wristcutters: A Love Story
This is a love story that takes place in the afterlife in the way-station for people who have committed suicide.
Dig-ding-ding... we have a totally brilliant fucked up love story setting winner!
I mean - the film takes place in hell, and everyone in it has killed themselves! Yet, this is a stunning and sweet little film with a touching love story at it's core dealing with the usual litany of teen concerns.
Patrick Fugit stars as Zia, who after slitting his wrists, finds himself in a world similar to his own, only without much joy to it. It is hell indeed. He teams up with a group of other souls (some very fun and interesting characters) on a cross country journey to try to figure a way out of this purgatory. On route, he meets a girl, Mikai, who believes there has been some terribly mistake since she didn't kill herself.
This is the third film on my list from The Sundance Film Festival (High Art and Good Dick are the other two). It's certainly the only feel-good film ever made about suicide!

6. High Art

"I have a love issue and drug problem, " Lucy tells her mom and that sums up this $60,000 budgeted little indie gem by lesbian writer/director Lisa Cholodenko.
Sydney has a nice boyfriend, is young and bright-eyed, so naturally she gets attracted to her neighbor - a recluse lesbian photographer (Ally Sheedy) who is addicted to all forms of drugs and alcohol.
The film is fantastic and was the break out role for Patricia Clarkson, who plays the heroine addicted girlfriend.

5. Harold & Maude

One of the best movies EVER!  What happens when a suicidal teen falls in love with an 80 year old nazi concentration camp survivor.

4. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane
Behind the veneer of this creepy, psychological horror film, is a surprisingly touching little teen love story!
This has everything a good fucked-up romance should have: a pedophile (Martin Sheen), murder, polio, and the torture of innocent hamsters.
Jodie Foster plays an eerie little girl who lives alone, and has no problem doing the ole arsenic and old lace bit on anyone that jeopardizes that. Along comes neighbor boy (Scott Jacoby) - who is rather sickly and enjoys magic. A friendship develops to the point where she can tell him where the bodies are buried, literally and a strange bond is formed between these two damaged kids.

If you've ever wanted a boyfriend that will help you bury the bodies, this is the film for you!

3. Sid and Nancy
"I look like fucking Stevie Nicks!" And so goes Nancy (Chloe Webb), on a spiral down with punk boyfriend Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) in this true biopic that is a tender love story between two British drug addicts.
Sid was the bass player for The Sex Pistols and Nancy was the woman he loved, then killed. Their romance is the definition of a train wreck, and the film is unapologetic in it's tale of two rude, desperate, damaged and heroin addicted people.
The film was based on a book by the real life mom of Nancy.
If you've every loved someone so much you want to stab them, this is the love story for you!

2. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearn

Oh my god, the characters in this are so unbelievably pathetic, it's almost hard to watch at points.
Maggie Smith gives one of the best performances of her career as a Catholic spinster in the 1950's who endeavors to engage a local man (Bob Hoskins) into a romance. It seems all very sweet - love later in life and all, until you find out he's a pervert and she's an alcoholic. On top of that, he's just trying to grift her, and he's such a loser he's not even any good at it.
The film was produced by Beatle George Harrison under his Handmade Films shingle and co stars one of my all time favorite actresses Wendy Hiller.

1. The Night Porter

This controversial erotic flick by female director Liliana Cavini is the tender love story between a Nazi prison guard and the concentration camp victim he rapes. This one is often nearly impossible to watch, so it gets the #1 spot.
Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling give two stellar and horrifyingly sensitive performances as two damaged people, who have lived through so much horror that they can only find comfort in each other's company. I mean, they are way beyond anything Dr Phil can do to help.
The film takes place thirteen years after the end of WWII, and former concentration camp victim Lucia Atherton is now married to a prominent violin player, and living an affluent lifestyle which includes travel and posh hotels. At one such hotel in Vienna, she spots a familiar face in the Night Porter. He is the Nazi guard that continually raped her when she was in a concentration camp!
Instead of reporting him, the two begin a torrid affair. Maximillian is living a poor, simple life and is still friends out of need with a circle of Nazis-in-hiding. He has insurmountable guilt and shame about his past, and obsessively buries himself in his work.

It's as disturbing as it is sad, and deals with human souls so marred in guilt and pain that defies reconciliation. It's exploitive, deals with sadomasochism and is frequently hard to watch. But I have to admit, by the end of the film, I felt I just wanted these two to end up together, as fucked up as that seems. It's truly a fantastic film, albeit risky, and certainly the saddest most fucked up love story ever!

Those that didn't make the list, but are also fucked-up favorites include: Prick Up Your Ears, Sex, Lies and Videotape and You, Me and Everyone We Know.


Anonymous said...

Darling, both of these film lists are fabulous!

CLW said...

OMG ... your film taste rocks. I think there are only two on this list that I'm not familiar with and intend to netflix immediately!

CLW said...

Wow ... excellent list. Think there's only two I'm unfamiliar with that goes on the netflix queue pronto.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest THE PIANO TEACHER starring Isabella Hupert. BEST.ENDING.EVER. for the hopeless romantic. said...

YES - The Piano Teacher. I also left out Last Tango In Paris because basically...I hate that movie. Another brilliant dysfunctional family film - The Lion in Winter!

CLW said...

ahhh yes, The Piano Teacher. Harold and Maude also comes to mind. said...

Harold & Maude is one of the best movies ever made, period! Thanks for pointing that out!

Fernando said...

Brilliant. The ones I haven't seem now I must. The ones I have must see again soon. I do agree that Harold and Maude belongs here. One of my all time faves.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God! I LOVE The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearn. Maggie Smith is some kind of genius. Extraordinary performance. So sad most people forget about movies like this. Thanks for mentioning it.