Valentine’s Day is the worst, right? If you’re single you’re forced to deal with a month of ooey, gooey, lovey crap. If you’re in a couple you’re forced to declare your love, usually involving something cliche and expensive. (A hundred bucks for flowers? Give me a break. Although it is fun to see all the complaints the next day from schmoes that waited till the last minute and didn’t get them delivered on time.) I feel your pain. Order a pizza, get out the heart shaped pinata, and settle in with the movies. Let the bitter cleansing ritual begin.
Take This Waltz
You may have seen this marketed as a quirky, fun love story. I did. Set to pretty indie music and dreamy shots, at first watch it certainly begins to unfold that way. Michelle Williams plays Margot, a woman happily married to a cookbook writer and living in an adorable house on a great street. Then she meets Daniel, who she feels an immediate and undeniable chemistry with. She is already wrestling with these strong feelings of lust for another man other than her spouse, and then finds Daniel lives across the street from them. Margot and Daniel spend the summer stealing moments together as her marriage slowly crumbles. Seth Rogan is wonderful as her husband (Dear Seth: You are great in serious roles. Do more of them.) and Sarah Silverman is perfect in the role of their flawed sister. Here’s where that love story goes out the window: at their core, Margot and Daniel are pretty despicable. I found it depressing yet impossible to turn off.
Michael Douglas is Dan, a happily married, successful Manhattan lawyer. Then he meets Alex (Glen Close). They have a fling while his family is away one weekend. But when Dan tries to break it off, Alex goes a little…shall we say…cuckoo. She begins stalking Alex and when that doesn’t work moves on to his family. Now his concern isn’t hiding the affair, it’s protecting them from the crazy he has brought into their lives. The film was nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Actress for Close. It also succeeded in scaring the bejeezus out of men everywhere.
Recommended meal to accompany your watching: rabbit.
Lars von Trier doesn’t exactly do warm and fuzzy. Antichrist is no exception. After losing their child, a therapist and his wife retreat to a cabin in the woods to try to pick up the pieces and put their marriage back together. That’s when very strange things begin to happen. The story is divided into four chapters: Grief, Pain, Despair, and The Three Beggars. I have to be honest, I hesitate to go into any more description because I don’t want to spoil any second of it. But be warned, like most of von Triers work, it doesn’t hold back. I was genuinely uncomfortable throughout the film. And it’s graphic. It was banned in France after it’s release. I will say this…the scissors were hidden in my house for a few days after watching.
Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore are David and Diana, a couple who fell in love in high school. They have their differences but know nothing could tear them apart. After the recession hits, however, they fall on hard times. In a last-ditch effort to save their finances and dream home, they travel to Las Vegas. After they lose everything, a handsome stranger (Robert Redford) makes David an offer: one million dollars for one night with his wife. It would solve all their money woes, but can their relationship bear all the other problems that would come with it?
Sleepwalk With Me
Mike Birbiglia is a comedian struggling with a stalled career and the pressures of his failing relationship. His anxiety begins to manifest in bizarre and dangerous sleepwalking incidents. The extra fun part about this movie is it’s a true story, based on his one-man show and book of the same name. Including the sleepwalking. (I heard him tell a story about actually jumping out of a window.) It’s the first movie written by Ira Glass (This American Life) and co-stars Lauren Ambose (Six Feet Under) as his long suffering girlfriend. I’m a big fan of Birbiglia’s sincere style of stand-up and it carries through in this movie. Bonus: it’s filled with fantastic comedians.