Sunday, February 15, 2009
Unbreak My Heart: Post-Valentine's Day Massacre Movie Shows
Thankfully the evils of Valentine's Day are behind us. To celebrate, here are 10 recommended films about the trials of heartbreak or heartache. They each intelligently capture the tribulations, devastation, or slow dissolvings from a relationship, and add a real sense of wit, grace, comedy or gritty drama. The very least, we probably don't have it as bad as these celluloid folk... The first 5. Girl Power! An Unmarried Woman (1978) Jill Clayburgh stars in an oscar nominated performance (she was robbed by Jane Fonda of Coming Home that year) as a long married woman who finds her marriage over one day after her husband confesses to infidelity, and even worse, love with a younger woman. Paul Mazursky's film vividly captures this woman's devastation and ultimate search for her own identity. What he also does in the process is create a loving tribute to New York as well. Whether it's the upper east side or SoHo, Mazursky's film is rich in a real authentic new york attitude. One of my very favorite films. What's Love Got To Do With It? (1993) Tina Tuner's story is one of many triumphs, and at the center of WHAT'S LOVE is her combustible relationship with her husband, Ike. The movie richly creates Tina's world and no punches are (literally) left unthrown. You can't help but cheer for her struggle through all her turmoils and the movie does what most biopics cannot. It creates a real sense of it's world while still being very entertaining. Angela Bassett's performance as Tina is also top notch and very moving. She was also robbed of an Oscar. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) Ellen Burstyn's oscar winning role in Martin Scorsese's intimate drama about a recently widowed woman and her young son who takes a journey to find a new life for herself (it also was the basis of the hit TV show Alice) finds it's title character going through much heartbreak and self doubt on that road to her new life. Scorsese's bold direction combines gritty realism with touches of the surreal, but you are always placed directly in her shoes, fully empathizing with this struggle, as complicated as life sometimes can be. Wanda (1971) Barbara Loden's directorial Debut, and swan song as it happens, is probably the most powerful and challenging film you'll ever see about heartbreak. Unlike the aforementioned ALICE and UNMARRIED, you will not immediately sympathize with Wanda's world. Barbara wrote, directed and starred in this tale of a woman who one day just up and leaves her husband and children in search of a new life for herself. She takes a journey like the other 2 women, but the movie definitely goes to places you might not expect. It's an extraordinarily crafted film. It's verite-like images make you feel raw emotions like no other film can. Three Of Hearts (1993) THREE spins an unusual tale of how one woman's love for another, leads her after heartbreak, to hire a male prostitute to win back her affection. Things don't go as planned and love blossoms between the hustler and her ex. Another New York movie, this time a bit more glossy and romanticized, still manages to capture the heartaches of love for all it's characters really well. It's funny and sometimes silly, and contains very engaging performances by it's 3 stars. And that includes the one that is a Baldwin even! 5 more: Dudes get their heart's broken, too (they just deal with it in strange ways) Modern Romance (1981) Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred in the 2nd to ultimate movie about a guy's struggle to get over his last relationship. That is, he spends the entire movie trying to get her back. The results: Hilarity! You'll find an unhealthy mix of quaaludes and a fifth of Beethoven, Ill-advised trips to the sporting goods store, dates that last only a car ride around the corner, stalking of the exes' apartment and George Kennedy running around a spaceship. Pure genius. Annie Hall (1977) The ultimate movie about a break-up from a male point of view is one of the most inventive movies ever made that is a relationship comedy. Woody Allen uses his medium to it's fullest potential (there's even animation!) and has a lot of fun with it's structure. No wonder it received so much love back in old '77 and still is so influential even to this day. Blume In Love (1973) Paul Mazursky makes the list again, but this time his film is from the male point of view... 1973's BLUME follows George Segal as a divorce attorney and philandering husband who finds himself still very much in love with his wife after their marriage ends. Mazkursy's films are always pretty engaging, but he's also the master of small moments and details. BLUME ultimately shouldn't be moving as there are some moments that challenge our adoration for it's protagonist, but both actor and director lend such an incredible hand that you just can't help but care. Skin Deep (1989) Blake Edwards' Skin Deep follows John Ritter as Zach Hutton and the fallout of his marriage after he is caught cheating one day. The film is a string of zany scenes of Zach falling in and out of lust for some very interesting women which may or may not help this Peter Pan grow up before they end up killing him. Blake Edwards' films are usually broad comedies that have spectacular set pieces, and Skin Deep supplies some pretty choice funny moments. John Ritter's naturally gifted ability for physical comedy is used very well, and there are plenty of bizarre moments to be found that give this movie a unique touch. It's the ultimate 80's relationship comedy gone horribly wrong (or damn funny!) Death Wish (1974) Charles Bronson stars in the original Vigilante movie that started it all. What better way to get over your broken heart by avenging the death of your wife and attack on his daughter with a magnum force that will not stop until all that perpetrated the crimes have been wiped off the face of the earth?! The original film from 1974 proved to be a gritty, no holds barred portrait of a man who fills the vacancy left in his heart from these grisly crimes with a mission of vengeance. He starts cleaning up the streets in the process, as well as becoming a hero to the people. Only back in the day can there be a picture that questions authority and paints such a portrait of a man's love while being so entertaining and dark--I suspect a looming remake in the works will only serve to attempt to dilute that power.