I woke up the other morning and looked out the window with a smile. The sun was shining, the beautiful birds were chirping, love was in the air!
I am of course lying; the sun does not exist in Waterloo during the winter and there are no beautiful chirping birds, only maddeningly honking geese.
Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to cuddle that special someone and shoot a romantic movie. There are some that we all know: When Harry Met Sally (1989), The Fault in Our Stars (2014) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) to name a few. I believe, however, that some of the best romantic movies are rarely talked about. Here are three you may not have heard of, but are worth checking out this Valentine’s Day.
Buffalo ’66 (1998)
Directed by Vincent Gallo
With: Vincent Gallo, Cristina Ricci
Buffalo ’66 may be one of the greatest independent films ever made with one of the most offbeat love stories ever filmed. The film is about a recently released convict named Billy (Vincent Gallo) whose parents are unaware that he has been incarcerated for several years. He also lied to his parents about having a girlfriend and so he decides to kidnap a woman (Cristina Ricci) to introduce her to his parents. Much can be debated about this film and Gallo’s later work The Brown Rabbit (2003) but one thing is certain, and that is that both films feel uniquely human. This attitude is especially true for Billy, a character who truly encapsulates what it’s like to be lost and alone. He is irrational, often acts stupid, and can’t stop sabotaging himself. The kidnapped woman named Layla is a godsend. He’s someone who looks up to Billy and, despite his many flaws, sees something special in him. It’s a miraculous movie, capable of turning a ridiculous story into something that’s not only believable, but relatable.
Directed by Norman Jewison
Starring: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello
What I admire the most Dreamer that’s how it’s always ready to think outside the box that other rom-coms have paved before it. He’s not afraid to focus on supporting characters and their own relationships. He is not afraid to give a personality to the decor. Dreamer takes Italian-American culture and expands its tropes almost to parody. The film tells the story of an engaged woman who falls in love with her fiancé’s eccentric brother. The acting really stands out in this film. Cher then perhaps a musician before being an actor excels in the role of Loretta surpassing even the always entertaining Nicolas Cage. While Cher delivers the best overall performance, Cage achieves the most memorable. He plays the over-the-top dramatic Ronny who falls madly in love with Loretta. It’s one of the few films with a fully developed set of characters and unlike some rom-coms, it’s legitimately funny. I also appreciate the choice to focus on the relationships of people who are aging. It adds a healthy dose of levity and cynicism to a genre that often lacks such aspects.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawk, Julie Delpy
People are difficult and everyone knows why. If not, please stop being difficult. Even with this reality, people can sometimes create something wonderful. Not with tools or with revolutionary ideas, but simply with the way they interact with each other. This is the attitude I feel towards before sunrise, it’s a movie that just makes me smile. Beautiful in its simplicity; we watch two strangers meet on a train in Vienna. One is an American student named Jesse (Ethan Hawk) and a French citizen Céline (Julie Delpy). The film plays out all night as the two decide on the spur of the moment to explore Vienna together. The majesty of the city brings out the elegance of their unexpected relationship. With the two set to resume their normal lives the next day, it seems all they will have is this brief night together. It reflects how fast time flies in our own lives, how relationships go too fast and go too soon, it elicits this internal feeling that we all wish we had just a little more time before sunrise. In our lifes.