Romantic versus antiromantic movies

In honor of the swooniest (and loneliest) holiday, here are some films that praise and puncture the power of love.

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  • IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)

  • BEFORE SUNRISE (1995)

  • ANNIE HALL (1977)

  • VERTIGO (1958)

  • SUMMERTIME (1955)

  • PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002)

  • THE WAR OF THE ROSES (1989)

  • AUDITION (1999)

  • FATAL ATTRACTION (1987)

  • IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (1997)

  • LOLITA (1962)

  • TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992)

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)

Quick question: When you see the abbreviation VD, do you think Valentine’s Day or venereal disease? Depending on how you answer, we know you’ll either be spending February 14 with your special sweetheart or slogging it out alone, cursing at every Cupid-struck couple you come across. Thankfully, there are plenty of films that appeal to both sides of the fence; we’ve made a list of our favorites, conveniently (heart)broken down the middle.

Romantic


IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert hoof it cross-country; guess who fall head over shapely ankles for each other? Go see this proto-screwball classic at BAM on Valentine’s Day and we guarantee your “walls of Jericho” will come down.—DF


BEFORE SUNRISE (1995)
Even those who hate chatty meet-cutes have a soft spot for Richard Linklater’s mash note to being young, verbose and in possession of a Eurail pass. Vienna’s tourism board should be paying Gen X icons Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy commissions.—DF


ANNIE HALL (1977)
Hard-core Woodyites might prefer the more romantically daring Manhattan, but here’s the comedy that first broke the mold: a modulation of onscreen coupledom into never-before-seen registers of NYC neuroticism. Diane Keaton makes it all lovable.—JR


VERTIGO (1958)
Do you think of Alfred Hitchcock as a big ol’ softy? You should: His mystery masterpiece is about a retired cop who falls in love with the same woman twice. The second time hurts just as hard—and still, this is a movie for believers.—JR


SUMMERTIME (1955)
In David Lean’s gem, middle-aged spinster Katharine Hepburn travels to Venice and takes up with antiques-shop owner Rossano Brazzi. The gondoliers sing of amore, and the duo’s passion ignites bona fide fireworks.—KU


PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002)
Paul Thomas Anderson explores the rush of first love through the inspired pairing of abrasive comedian Adam Sandler and doe-eyed naf Emily Watson. Kudos for the inclusion of “He Needs Me” from Popeye.—KU

Antiromantic


THE WAR OF THE ROSES (1989)
They may have previously romanced the stone, but this time, bitter spouses Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner go up against each other in a battle royal. Few comedies about failed marriages bring the hate with such violent, vitriolic gusto.—DF


AUDITION (1999)
Boy meets girl. Girl turns out to be a psychopath with a serious bone to pick—or rather, saw through. Takashi Miike’s excruciating J-horror movie is a great date flick, provided you never want to see said date again.—DF


FATAL ATTRACTION (1987)
Lady Gaga doesn’t know jack about bad romance, unless she’s referring to crazy-eyed Glenn Close, who transforms from illicit yuppie plaything to rejected rager on a family-stalking rampage. Hide your pet bunnies, children.—JR


IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (1997)
Playwright-filmmaker Neil LaBute can’t be called a friend to the ladies, although his male characters have a special ugliness. His debut has two corporate d-bags maliciously toying with a deaf coworker who thinks she’s found Mr. Right.—JR


LOLITA (1962)
Stiff-necked James Mason falls for teenage nymphet Sue Lyon in Stanley Kubrick’s darkly comic adaptation of Nabokov’s controversial novel. Youthful allure is stripped away until lecherous affections turn murderously sour.—KU


TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992)
David Lynch’s prequel to his popular television series ups the ick quotient, as homecoming queen Laura Palmer discovers some dirty little secrets. When it comes to damaged families, love hurts. Literally.—KU

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