Valentine's Films Across Genres

By Alex Cherry 

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and we all know what the typical movie pick is — that gushy, funny and sensual romance movie, often deemed the “chick flick.” This Valentine’s Day, Fifty Shades Freed is a perfect example of this, along with the classics Valentine’s Day, The Notebook and Sex and the City. If you’re like me, you’re tired of this moniker and this type of film; you’re looking for a more interesting, unique romance that transcends the “chick flick” genre.

Here’s a list of 10 films that fall outside of the typical Valentine’s day movies and provide an interesting story, along with a compelling romance, just in time for the holiday.

Animated

WALL-E

Image via Pixar

Image via Pixar

WALL-E spends his days picking up trash and tidying the planet as the last robot left on Earth. He’s cute, he’s inquisitive, but he’s lonely. When he meets EVE, a probe sent to Earth to scan for remaining life, WALL-E falls instantly and irrevocably in love. He follows EVE into space, embarking on an exciting and dangerous mission to save the future of the human race. The story is full of adventure, beautiful imagery and a moving, adorable romance at its very heart. WALL-E and EVE, though robots, are believably and totally in love, and they’re the characters who give us the largest hope for humanity, even though they’re, perhaps, the least human of all.

Howl’s Moving Castle

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Hayao Miyazaki’s films are always masterpiece coming-of-age romances, but none of them are quite as moving, or as beautiful, as Howl’s Moving Castle. It is the story of a young hat maker, Sophie, who gets pulled into a world of fantasy and magic. When a wicked witch turns her into an old woman, she becomes the housekeeper for a strange and mysterious wizard named Howl. Though he’s full of dark secrets, he and Sophie have a connection like no other, and the dangerous and daring adventures they embark on all center around the blossoming of their incredible romance.

Sci-fi

Passengers

Two passengers, played by the equally gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt (what more could you want in a romance?!), awaken 90 years early on a journey through space when their ship is damaged in transit. Pratt and Lawrence, as Jim and Aurora, having only each other to interact with other than the robots of the ship, began to fall for each other — but the true test of their romance occurs when they have to save the lives of the other passengers as the ship falls into danger. Full of futuristic thrill, the story explores the consequences of mortality and awakens fears of the future, while centering around a classic romance of love and loss.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of Clementine, who undergoes surgery to erase memories of her ex, Joel, from her mind. Joel finds out what Clementine is doing and decides to endure the same procedure. The romance ensues when they begin dating again, and it’s an unforgettable, visually-stunning journey. The film explores loss and heartache, but also the joy and happiness that can be felt in the absence of painful memories. Above all, this film is a profound romance and a look into the risks and rewards of love.

Superhero

Deadpool

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Deadpool was released on Valentine’s Day, and for good reason. While its prime features are hilarity and over-the-top action/violence, at the heart of the story is a funny, moving and extremely unique romance between Deadpool and his girlfriend, Vanessa. When Wade gets diagnosed with cancer and leaves without warning to become a superhero, Vanessa, his loving and supportive girlfriend, is left out in the cold. But when the villain kidnaps Vanessa to get revenge on Wade, he must save her and ultimately reveal the reasons he left in order to keep her safe. The movie is hilarious, action-packed and their chemistry is undeniable, making it the perfect movie for Valentine’s Day.

Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman is by far my favorite superhero movie, and perhaps one of my favorite romances told on screen. When Diana Prince, an Amazon warrior, decides to leave the protection of her island in order to fight for the safety of mankind, she must trust pilot Steve Trevor to show her the way around the world. They immediately hit it off, and embark on a journey of love and loss, complementing one another in their journey to understand the world they live in and their place in it. Sure to rip your heart out, Wonder Woman is full of fantastic action and moral complexity, as well as a romance that tugs on the heartstrings and truly makes you believe in love.

Horror/Thriller

Twilight

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Yep, I went there. Say what you will about Twilight, but it tells an incredible romance. When Bella meets Edward, she’s immediately enraptured by him, though she doesn’t know his dark secret — he’s a vampire, and he thirsts for her blood. Luckily, their connection goes beyond the physical, and Edward vows to protect Bella with everything in him. As they confront numerous challenges, their love only grows. This film explores the depths we would go to protect the ones we love and the true inability of love to be stopped by any force imaginable. It’s a beautiful romance told across five total films, and it provides the dark tension of the thriller genre along the way.

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is not a story for the faint of heart. It’s about a bullied 12-year-old boy who strikes up a friendship with a girl neighbor, Eli — but she’s no ordinary kid. She is, in fact, a vampire, and the one responsible for a string of murders in the area. The two remain close through a series of dark trials, and even grow to fall in love, as much as two children can. Oskar is drawn to violence and Eli is predisposed to it, and somehow, they are able to stay together, despite it all. Though gruesome and terribly dark, the film explores the victory of love even when it feels impossible, as the romantic optimism of Oskar and Eli combats the inherent gloom of bloodshed and death.

Fantasy

The Princess Bride

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The Princess Bride is a classic story of love, danger, adventure and comedy, depending upon the classic fairytale mode of storytelling to deliver a timeless romance. Wesley is a farm boy who the Princess, Buttercup, falls in love with. He goes away, but when she’s captured by thieves, he returns to save her under the guise of a masked pirate. He saves her, and in turn reveals himself to her, as along the way they face villains and setbacks galore. There are sword fights, battles of wits, stormy seas and hilariously terrible villains, sure to thrill and warm the heart.

The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water tells the story of Elisa, a woman who works in a government lab as a cleaning lady. When the lab acquires a mysterious asset, an amphibious creature feared and hated by its captors, Elisa discovers a connection like no other. This creature is the first being to ever truly understand her, and upon the growth of their budding relationship and the dangers the creature faces, Elisa decides to save him from captivity and release him to freedom. It’s a dark, harrowing tale of a profound love that is truly unlike any other, and it’s sure to mystify and enthrall time and again.

Short of the Week: Last Looks

By Tiana Raimist-Carter

Do you ever think about the last time you’ll see someone? The final words you would say, or wouldn’t get to say? Departing with a smile, or a hug?

In her debut short film “Last Looks,” featured in Issa Rae’s #ShortFilmSundays, former University of Alabama TCF student Cierra Glaudé shows the harsh reality of those vulnerable last moments.

The short begins with a brief moment of suspense — what does the leading female character see? The location is decently unidentifiable, but with this first glance the film already gives the viewer plenty of information. This short will not have a happy ending.

As the story develops, layers are exposed. The other leading character, her younger brother, has an ongoing inner conflict. Bearing a black T-shirt exposing the 3 words- Artist. Creator. Threat., this man is an artist in black America. He invites his sister to a his show where he pours his soul into his performance and receives praise from the entire audience of sharply dressed afro-centric men and women at a bar.

We only hear a few lines, but it’s full of emotion. His pain, his sorrow, his regret— where does it come from?

“I never thought cancer.”

Those words strike a definitive chord with a lot of people, including me. Within nine minutes, this film portrays true feelings of loss, depression, loneliness and being black in America.

The siblings share a moment outside the bar before parting ways. The next few seconds, as she stands in the street and watches her brother bike away, are the most intense moments of the short.

“What are you about to do?” she asks.

What follows is the answer to every question, yet nothing verbal is uttered. In a moment of raw emotion, we find out he lost his daughter to cancer — his inspiration, his child. And we also find out he is in possession of a gun with a feeling of the world on his back.

“At least it wasn’t your good side” whispered the lead as she finished blotting foundation on his lifeless skin and laid her baby brother to rest.

Spring Movie Preview

By Caleb Butler

At the movies, the spring is often viewed as sort of the middle child. Winter is the older sibling, consisting of a plethora of awards contenders, and summer is the youngest sibling, filled with blockbuster movies that studios pour millions of dollars into making. The spring ends up being an odd combination of these two, as demonstrated by last year’s February hit “Get Out,” which proved to be both a monetary success and Oscar contender. This can make the spring season all the more rewarding.

Here are seven of my most anticipated films of the season.

Black Panther - February 16th

Marvel’s newest entry to its cinematic universe seems destined to be one of its biggest hits yet, and the film marks a huge cultural milestone by showcasing the first African American superhero to lead a  movie in the era of connected universes. Chadwick Boseman is a rising star, and the supporting cast is perhaps the strongest group of actors ever seen in a solo Marvel film. Director Ryan Coogler also hired Kendrick Lamar to produce the album for the movie, which jolts my excitement levels sky-high.

Annihilation - February 23rd

Director Alex Garland emerged in a big way with his directorial debut “Ex Machina,” scoring him an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay as well as a win for his visual effects team. Now, he’s back with a bigger budget, and a cast led by Natalie Portman, in an adventurous sci-fi film that looks like a cross between “Arrival” and “Jurassic Park.” The trailer presents a world full of beauty and terror, and if the script is on par with his previous work, perhaps this is a film we could see at the Oscars next year.

A Wrinkle in Time - March 9th

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Ava DuVernay rose to national prominence for her MLK film “Selma” and documentary “13th,” so naturally Disney tapped her to direct their long rumored adaption of “A Wrinkle in Time.” Only a few years back, DuVernay was helping mentor students at our very own Black Warrior Film Festival, and now she is an African American woman directing a Disney blockbuster - a major breakthrough in the mostly male-led film industry. The captivating visuals and jam-packed cast should make this another huge hit for Disney.

Thoroughbreds - March 9th

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I’ve been waiting for this next hit since the release of its trailer at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. The plot of this dark comedy contains a pair of girls, one who doesn’t feel emotion and one who feels them all, who try to hatch a murder plan. I am a big fan of Anya-Taylor Joy, as she seems to choose good roles, and I am also interested to watch Anton Yelchin in his last movie to be released after his untimely death. Here’s to hoping the film can hold up the sharp wit and dry humor I saw in the trailers for 90 minutes.

Isle of Dogs - March 23rd

Wes Anderson is back with another stop motion picture - in what will certainly be one of the most intricately-detailed films of 2018. Anderson has gathered an incredible array of talent to voice roles in the film. Also, who doesn’t want to watch a movie about an island of dogs who try to help a little Japanese kid find his own dog, because I find that idea absolutely delightful?!

Ready Player One - March 30th

Steven Spielberg has rejoined the sci-fi genre, and I could not be more excited. The book was originally written with many homages to Spielberg, so he’s having to change a few details here and there, but this virtual-reality homage to the 80’s is either going to be absolutely spectacular or much too self aware. With that said, Spielberg is a master filmmaker, so if anyone can pull off the extraordinary vision of this book it would be him.

A Quiet Place- April 6th

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I really love original horror movies, So naturally a movie that stars John Krasinski and Emily Blunt (a real life couple btw) as parents of a family who must stay silent in order to hide from monsters seems quite interesting. Also, I kind of owe them one because I’m scared I put them in peril by sneezing during the quietest part of the trailer when I saw “I, Tonya.” Sorry guys!

 

I can’t wait to see these films and many more this semester. Hopefully, they will all do well, and maybe we will get a few with potential Oscar buzz before the summer blockbuster season begins. See y’all at the movies!