Your Valentine's dinner is over you want a nice movie to share with your special someone. You've got a bottle of wine to open, a box chocolates to share. You want to relax, but you don't want to shut your mind off completely. You want something sophisticated, off the beaten path. Something that might even impress your co-workers around the water cooler the next day. Here are five romance-tinged titles to consider, all of them available on Netflix Instant. What movies would you add to the list?
Certified Copy Certified Copy topped a number of critics' lists in 2011 but remains criminally underseen by the larger public. It stars Juliette Binoche as the owner of an antiques shop and opera singer William Shimmel as an art historian who's just released a book on the subject of the artistic integrity of reproductions. The films follows them on a day trip to an Italian village, during which they converse casually and spar on what is and isn't art.
There's more going on here than meets the eye, though. In a single scene, the movie shifts dramatically. Now Binoche and Shimmel are less like strangers sharing a casual trip together and more like old friends, perhaps former lovers, or maybe they're even husband and wife. In a film about genuine art versus copies, we shouldn't expect answers. Director Abbas Kiarostami wants us to think about this one for ourselves. And thanks to the Kiarostami's eye for color and framing, and the chemistry between Binoche and Shimmel, the experience is both dazzling and complex.
Cinema Paradiso Giuseppe Tornatore's 1988 film is as much about a man's love for cinema as it is anything else. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1989 and it's easy to see why. Cinema Paradiso wears its heart on its sleeve, right up to and including its emotional montage of early silver screen kisses. There's a time to resist a movie's manipulative wiles and there's a time to give up and just let yourself be carried away. Cinema Paradiso fits squarely in that latter category.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind may not be as obscure as Certified Copy, but it's no When Harry Met Sally either. It's a pricklier film, by comparison, but endearing nonetheless. The visual gimmickry has an appeal but its heart and soul is the vanishing relationship between Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet). It ends hopefully, but almost bleakly so, if you could use that word to describe a happy ending. This former couple, who remember nothing about the other thanks to the miracle of technology, are back together, but aren't they doomed to make the same mistakes over again? Not necessarily, and even if they do, there's beauty in both.
His Girl Friday You might think this one's for the older crowd, but not so fast. This Howard Hawks screwball comedy still shines thanks to the sharp dialog by screenwriter Charles Lederer and the quick, clear deliveries of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. And for people who don't like their movies too mushy, His Girl Friday is charming more than saccharine. Comedies like this one don't seem to get made anymore.
In the Mood for Love Wong Kar Wai's 2000 film about forbidden love may be a bit of a downer for Valentine's Day, but it's a gorgeous, romantic downer. With its sumptuous production design, lush score and feeling of suppressed desire, it has an intensity you feel but never see. Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung) and Mr. Chow (Tony Leung-Chiu Wai) are next door neighbors who slowly discover that their respective spouses are having an affair with each other.
In time, the two began their own affair of sorts, cautious as it is. They promise not to be like their significant others, and so it makes sense that their love is doomed from the get-go. Would it make much of difference in the plot if this were an American film? Would the characters feel so strongly obligated to remain faithful in spite of the pain they've been put through? It's hard to say, but I admire Kar-Wai's restraint.