3 Films For (or Against) Valentine’s Day

***editor’s note – because of the author’s view on art as parable rather than strict moralistic teaching, some readers might find the films mentioned “questionable” for a “Christian” audience. Viewer discretion is advised. ***

1. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzmán

“I don’t know if there is anything wrong because I don’t know how other people are.”

What a quirky movie. I put this on Netflix as background noise one evening while working on a project and ended up not getting any work done. I’m not a fan of Adam Sandler, except when he plays characters that aren’t trying to be funny. There are some actors that when taken out of the genre they are known for, truly show their depth (i.e. Jim Carrey in films like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine for a Spotless Mind). But I digress. This dark comedy feels like an art house film refined, with an interesting use of music and camera angles that aren’t over done. With themes of isolation, being misunderstood, and finding love even though you are a little crazy, Punch-Drunk Love will make you laugh and wince and root for the underdog. Plus, Sandler and the late Seymour Hoffman yell at each other which is pretty spectacular.

2. Stuck In Love (2013)
Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff and Logan Lerman

“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”

The most palatable of the three, the casting of this movie is spot on and the soundtrack is fan-freakin-tastic. The back drop of the movie being that of a family of writers plays well with the narrative voice overs. Each character off the mark in their own way, whether  it be fear, lack of commitment, lack of change, or frivolous sexuality, each get an opportunity for redemption. The saddest character is also the “happiest” (side actress Kristen Bell) who’s positive outlook on her own narcissism and charade of life is infuriating. The most sobering part of the film is the effect of divorce on the couple’s children, even though they are grown. However, this leads to a needed-but-barely-ever-seen-in-real-life incident of a parent confessing their sin (appropriately) to their offspring, opening up a realm of healing that would not have been available otherwise.

3. Alternate World (2014)
Son Lux, Truman & Cooper

“The past is a type of reality that haunts the present, and the film’s story and imagery evokes this feeling beautifully.”

This last one is a music video and the time restriction ends up helping the story line by amplifying every frame. The intensity of sexuality is well displayed, perfectly complimenting the intensity of the relationship’s demise. One could easily believe that if desire were always at a high, that nothing could go wrong in relationship. However, while the design of relationships should never fall prey to mediocrity, the romantic eros is but one component in the dynamics of it. Furthermore, Alternate World, displays  the fact that no matter how much we want to be individuals, an island unto ourselves, the wounds of passion leave their marks and can all too easily effect the present with the residue of pain, bitterness, and regret.

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