Just in time for Valentine’s
Do you eat Ben and Jerry’s by yourself on a Saturday night while singing *crying* to Celine Dion’s All By Myself? Well, pull yourself together! It’s Valentine’s soon, and now you can watch a decent rom-com or a sobbing sop-fest while eating Ben and Jerry’s by yourself on a Sunday night. Scratch Cinema presents a collection of Romantic Cinema, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)
WORDS BY EMMA WARD
When it comes to romantic comedies, nothing hits the spot quite like Nora Ephron’s 1998 film You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks—the pure-hearted, pitch-perfect, and nothing less than iconic pair (also excellent in Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle)—play Kathleen Kelly, the owner of a quaint, independent bookshop, and Joe Fox, the man behind a chain of bookstores threatening to put her out of business. Although they do not realize it, the two have also begun to fall in love over email, each with no idea as to the other’s real identity. What follows is a delightful rendition of that classic rom-com subgenre where two blushing and bickering protagonists loathe each other right up until they fall in love with each other. The bones of the story are not original—the movie is adapted from some combination of the 1937 play Parfumerie, the 1940 film Shop Around the Corner, and the Broadway musical She Loves Me. But even as it feels cozily familiar, You’ve Got Mail has a charm all its own that makes it the quintessential Valentine’s Day viewing.
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999)
WORDS BY TAYA STRAUSS
10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 romantic-comedy. It features two sisters, Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik), who are polar opposites in personality. One of their father’s rules outlines that Bianca can’t date unless Kat does, causing Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to be paid to take Kat out, so Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) can take out Bianca. This film is set in Washington State, which is where I grew up, so seeing all of the very familiar sites in a film I love has always been exciting. The dynamic between Kat and Patrick throughout the course of the film has always been one of my favorite romantic tropes, going from hating each other to falling in love. In addition to this, the late 90s fashion in the film and the cast just enhance it even more. In all, 10 Things I Hate About You is a fun, entertaining rom-com that holds a special place in my heart.
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (2018)
WORDS BY SHOLA JIMOH
The normative inadequacies of interpersonal relationships heighten our demands of a lover. Oftentimes, we operate from a sense of deprivation, ravenously probing for sustenance to silence our resounding hunger for intimacy – one which nonetheless reverberates through our bodies. Love is inherently varied, ripe with innumerable complexities that resonate differently for each of us. It is no simple task to portray the intricacies of romance on screen. Some filmmakers only grasp romantic love through its low-hanging conventions: extensive eye contact, passionate sexual encounters, whirlwind affairs — the works. But when we desire a presentation of love that does not feel like imitation, like robotic, hyper-engineered trickery, the search frequently comes up short. Only the most literate of filmmakers relay love as a tangible property, rendering our desires a material possession for us to reap perpetually. For me, that filmmaker is Barry Jenkins. In If Beale Street Could Talk, love is embodied in the tenderness of a fleeting touch, the comforting warmth of compassionate eyes, and the security of a heartfelt embrace. Upon every watch, the film sows a new seed of love within me, continuously redefining my conceptions of intimacy and affection. Not only is Beale Street a masterclass in cinematic romance, but it is also the closest thing I have felt to truly being in love. For that, I will forever hold it dear to my heart.
BEFORE SUNRISE (1995)
WORDS BY JAKOB SANCHEZ
Before Sunrise is more important to me than most films I’ll ever watch. Linklater’s best films were essential to me as a teenager, I loved hearing these kids and young adults wax poetic about their own lives, politics, and philosophies, possibly not knowing much about the world, but being excited about their futures. Whether it be with friends they’ve known for years, or two people meeting for the first time. I was swayed by how natural and upfront Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s chemistry was as Jesse and Celine, despite meeting for just the first time. The writing always gives them something to talk about, and Hawke & Delpy become the lines that they say Their body language is awkward, adorable, and subdued, only becoming grander and more romantic as they become closer and more comfortable with each other, even through their acceptance of each others’ flaws. A masterclass of acting. While Before Sunset (2004) & Before Midnight (2013) may be the better films in terms of their direction and commentary on love as they both get older, Before Sunrise was an essential film to a younger version of myself as it represented the hopes of what love could be.
BEFORE SUNSET (2004)
WORDS BY DAN KINSLEY
There are few cinematic experiences that feel more real than Richard Linklater‘s Before series, a love story that spans nearly two decades (in fictional and real time!). While each film is a piece of a remarkable whole, it is the middle chapter, Before Sunset that this writer returns to most. Nine years after a singular night in Vienna, Jesse and Celine are reunited for the first time in Paris. As catching up eventually gives way to something deeper, it becomes clear that each has been haunted by Vienna in their own way. When things finally break wide open, the resultant catharsis is both gut-wrenching and achingly romantic, as they realize all roads lead them back to one another. While Sunrise was a story of young love, this unlikely sequel forces its central couple to grapple with the painful complexities of the might have been. Rest assured, however, the subsequent poetry of its final moments promises that true love does find a way, just in time.
WORDS BY LEE MILLINGTON
Weekend‘s one-word title implies that the few days the film covers are important, but it can’t give credit to the depth of that importance for viewers of this deeply romantic journey. The story follows two gay men who spend the night together and who quickly find a profound bond growing between themselves. This idea sets the film in the tradition of something like Before Sunrise, but it matters that, unlike such a forebear, it’s a gay film. There’s exploration of the characters’ hopes, dreams, and worries through the lens of their sexuality, with touching affirmations of their identities. The premise of this romance being across such a short timespan gives a sense of tribute to the power and value of gay love, and there’s such naturalistic acting and organic writing that you feel like a fly on the wall learning truths about love and life. I was reminded of the joy possible by committing full-tilt to being me, and LGBTQ+ viewers and allies will undoubtedly find plenty to enjoy in an unforgettable, unique portrayal of the liberating potential of love.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)
WORDS BY NICOLE SANACORE
The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner, is deservedly considered a classic and a comfort movie for just about everyone who’s watched it. Framed as a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading a story to his under the weather grandson (Fred Savage), The Princess Bride follows the love story of Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Westley (Cary Elwes) which is seemingly cut short when Westley is assumed to be captured and killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Years later, Buttercup is set to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), but the relationship isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Filled with schemes, betrayal and revenge, The Princess Bride brings the viewer along for the bumpy quest for true love. It’s a fun movie to watch, especially with the ever-so quotable lines from wannabe kidnappers, and in the latter two cases, endearing heroes, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), and Fezzik (André Roussimoff). Engaging, heartfelt and hilarious, The Princess Bride is the fairytale love story to end all fairytale love stories (in the best way possible).