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Has Peter Gabriel's music ever won a woman over in the "real" world?
According to Shakespeare, "love comforteth like sunshine after rain." Although, Shakespeare was of two minds on the concept of love, since it's also at the heart of the conflicts in many of his works, leading to deceit, poison, murder, suicide and a good deal of "woe" in some cases. Affection, libido, love, sexual gratification, etc., etc., are connected to complex and powerful emotions (especially when someone thinks they're experiencing the "true" kind) that sometimes words on a page have trouble expressing in fullness.

When you really get down to it, "Love" (with a capital L) is an irrational emotion in which flawed people decide to trust one another, open themselves to vulnerability and humiliation by sharing their lives with someone else, all with the knowledge that everything might go horribly wrong. It is somehow simultaneously insane and ... beautiful.

Since Friday is Valentine's Day (and I hope all of you have already bought the flowers, cards or other assorted gifts for your respective beloved) I thought this week's column would pose some questions in honor of this month's Hallmark holiday: What are the best love stories? And what are the most contrived and ridiculous love stories? Find out below the fold.

A recent episode of the Nerdist podcast had Chris Hardwick and his co-hosts discuss love and touch on the pop culture perception of how love should work compared to how it actually works. I tend to be a hopeless romantic, and I used to get really disappointed by planning out romantic dates and them not going exactly as I imagined 'em. And it wasn't the dates went badly, or we didn't have fun. It was just they didn't meet the expectations I had in the Disney fantasy I imagined. Eventually I had to stop going into things with that mentality, and accept reality for what it is, and enjoy the good moments instead of obsessing over things that never were.

In most movies and television programs, we are taught that "love conquers all." In most love stories, persistence and patience eventually opens people's eyes to the love of others that they couldn't see. Even if they at first reject you, if you just stand outside their window playing "In Your Eyes," they'll eventually see that you're destined to be together.

However, that's also dangerously close to the mentality of most stalkers. With Love Actually, one of the big romantic gestures of the film usually gets one of two reactions from most women I've talked to about it. Either it's the most romantic thing a guy could ever do, or it's one of the creepiest things a guy could do to a woman who just got married.

And most people that end up in the "Friend Zone" are there because they think that if they show how "good" of a person they are, they'll win the heart of their beloved. But things don't always work that way in reality. A lot of this is of course anecdotal, but at some point or another I think a good number of people can remember a friend lamenting that they can't find a "nice" person. Except every person that friend has ever dated or seems to be attracted to has always been an asshole. The simplest explanation for why that seems to be is that if you look at the qualities common to most assholes, one of those qualities is usually (misplaced) confidence. And people, whether man or woman, usually find confidence an attractive quality, and that's true to many situations beyond relationships. Whether it's picking up a woman, a job interview, a grad school interview, or a politician running for office, if you can believe your own bullshit and say it confidently, you'll probably have a better chance of succeeding.
"If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it." —Saul Goodman, Breaking Bad's resident "criminal" lawyer
Back in 2002, the American Film Institute (AFI) put together "100 Years....100 Passions", which listed what they consider the top 100 love stories in American cinema. You can see the entire list by clicking on the link above, but here are the Top 15 films.

1. Casablanca (1942)
2. Gone with the Wind (1939)
3. West Side Story (1961)
4. Roman Holiday (1953)
5. An Affair to Remember (1957)
6. The Way We Were (1973)
7. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
8. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
9. Love Story (1970)
10. City Lights (1931)
11. Annie Hall (1977)
12. My Fair Lady (1964)
13. Out of Africa (1985)
14. The African Queen (1951)
15. Wuthering Heights (1939)

As I've documented in the past, every film and TV show employs a certain amount of tried and true cliches, conventions, formulas, and stereotypes to create a story. In a good film these type of things are usually forgiven, since the audience doesn't really notice 'em. However, in bad films they stand out like a sore thumb.

For example, Hollywood will hardly ever cast a "nerdy" girl for lead in a romantic comedy, even if the part calls for an unattractive, nerdy girl. So what you end up with is "Hollywood Homely," in which they cast a stunning actress and "ugly" her up by making her wear glasses and putting her hair up in a pony-tail. Thus setting up the five-minute makeover montage in the film.

Almost all romance stories use tropes common to Fairy Tales.
  • The Unnoticed Girl - The beautiful girl who no one recognizes as beautiful until someone gives her a makeover (see also "Beauty = Goodness").
  • Love At First Sight - It takes only a brief encounter for the characters to know fate wants them to be together, and they should devote every bit of their life to making the relationship happen.
  • Forces Attempting To Keep True Love Apart - The Evil Stepmother (aka Lady Tremaine) and her two brats play this role for Cinderella, but in modern stories this could be a jealous ex, a rival who wants to steal the significant other away, etc.
  • Love Hurts - This is usually toned down in most modern romantic comedies, but a common element in a lot of fairy tales is the female character undergoing abuse because of her beauty or love for a prince. Most modern stories achieve this by showing the female character's life at the beginning as either miserable because of her job, her social position, or (like Cinderella) the way she's treated by her family. The love story then either serves to break the character from the cycle or exacerbates it, and the abuse gets worse before it gets better.

Some of my favorite love stories:
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - The story is a deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre. For example, Clementine (Kate Winslet) is very much the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," who the main character believes will save him. However, the film shows how a relationship with the quirky, adventurous, dream girl might not work over the long-run. But even as it deconstructs it, the film also builds a meaningful relationship within the surreal nature of the story's premise. The defining act of true love between the characters is a leap of faith in deciding to love one another even in the face of knowing the relationship might be doomed to repeat the same mistakes. The beauty of that is it pretty much defines every relationship.
  • Top Hat (1935) - I was first exposed to this movie as a kid in a film class. When I first saw Top Hat, I was still in a place where something about characters breaking into song and dance took me out of the story. But one of the films that changed that for me was this movie. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers make it work. How Rogers dances and acts in the "feather dress" she wears in one sequence, I will never know.
  • Pretty Woman (1990) - The movie that made Julia Roberts a star. The original script (titled "$3000") was much darker, with Roberts' character Vivian being a drug addict. Part of the story would have been Richard Gere's Edward trying to get her clean while falling in love with her. The movie would have ended with Edward finding out that Vivian had slipped and was still using drugs, throwing her out of his limousine, and leaving her in the middle of the street. Rewrites and Gary Marshall's direction created a much lighter tone.
Among the worst elements that are trotted out in love stories:
  • "Damsel In Distress" and "Stalking = Love" -  Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series has long been criticized for being centered for what many see as a subservient to abusive relationship. I've had a fan of Twilight explain the series to me as a sexless, teen version of Romance novels. Her argument was that Bella connects with female readers because women can relate to the awkwardness the character feels about herself. However, the flip side of that is the depiction of Bella in both the books and the films is that of an idiot who only exists to be fought over by vampires and werewolves. If you leave aside the sparkling vampires that play baseball in thunderstorms and other things that have been the source of many jokes for a second, and just judge the story of Twilight on its own terms, the romance plot is HORRIBLE. As a character, Bella is constantly miserable and needy, requiring constant reassurance from the men in her life, and she's indecisive between two men who are willing to do anything for her. As she straddles between risking her life for a high school crush (Edward, who basically stalks her) and being anti-social, she feels sorry for herself whenever one of her boyfriends isn't around. She has no drive, and no higher goals in life. And because Bella is such a vacuous character with no agency, there's no reason for either of the two men in the story to connect emotionally to and fight over her, except only as an object to possess for the purposes of the story. Even Bella's wedding (in Breaking Dawn) is not really about her, since she's only marrying Edward to have sex with him, and even then she has to beg him to do it.
  • Characters Who Don't Deserve Love - In Scandal, the show wants us to care about the president's love life, but he's such a horrible person we probably shouldn't. The way Kerry Washington plays Olivia's affair with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) is by her resisting Fitz's advances, but eventually giving in to having passionate sex in the shower, floor, or on top of the Resolute Desk. A lot of TV critics have latched onto the power imbalance in the relationship, and see it as either a passionate affair among two people that would be much happier living in a cabin in Vermont, or it's a horrible relationship in which the president of the United States crosses the line into being stalker-ish and abusive. Both Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Olivia deserve so much better than Fitz, and would probably be happier if they would let go of their fantasies involving him.
  • Relationships Built Out Of Hate - This is basically when any relationship in a film is based on the characters treating each other like crap for most of the film, only to realize in the final minutes that they're soul mates. A classic example of this trope is a movie from the mid '90s called Reality Bites, which starred Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Ben Stiller. It was a Generation X comedy about twenty-somethings realizing they weren't kids anymore. The film is largely centered around the love triangle between Ryder, Hawke and Stiller. Hawke's character doesn't have a steady job, is a total asshole to everyone around him, and insults Ryder's character throughout most of the movie. However, by the end of the movie, for no particularly good reason, we're told that Ryder and Hawke should be together. Usually in most movies with love triangles, the writers will offer up some sort of flaw that disqualifies one of the suitors in the audience's eyes. The only disqualifying quality offered up in Reality Bites is that Ben Stiller's character is a successful television executive (i.e. that means he's sold out). And that is a bigger negative than Hawke's character being a miserable, out of work asshole.
  • "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" and the "Sensitive Misunderstood Man" - Usually both of these types of characters are paired with each other. The term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" was coined by the A.V. Club's Nathan Rabin for his description of Kirsten Dunst's character in Elizabethtown. It's a female character who's stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), who may have her hair dyed blue or purple. As described by Rabin, she is a magical girlfriend that "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures." A perfect example is Natalie Portman's character in Garden State. The flip side of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" is the "Sensitive Misunderstood Man," who is a good guy, unlucky in love and life. As a character, he's the "nice" guy that attractive women dismiss and leave, who may have a traumatic past. Spike Jonze's recent film Her in a lot of ways deconstructs the fallacy of this type of character. The fact that women may not want to be with a sensitive, misunderstood man may not be about superficial factors, but the fact that the sensitive, misunderstood man may have issues that make a relationship difficult.

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:45 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Waking the Dead, very UnderRated (7+ / 0-)

    IMDB review...
    User Reviews

    A picture of true beauty
    21 March 2001 | by wildgoose77 (Columbus) – See all my reviews

    I cannot recommend this film strongly enough. This story celebrates the timelessness of love without cynicism or irony. It portrays a relationship in all its many forms: moments of joy, frustration, passion, tenderness, tragedy, and even a bit of insanity. Fielding Pierce and Sarah Williams are the two politically-minded lovers. While they share very similar political goals, their means of achieving those goals are vastly different. Fielding is the ambitious golden boy, campaigning through the political machine in an effort to affect change by working within the established system. Sarah is the rebel outsider, who believes real change will never be accomplished within a corrupt system, leaving political revolution as the only alternative. The film never passes judgement on which is the nobler or the more effective method. Rather, it chooses to portray Fielding and Sarah as two people whose love for what they believe in is second only to the love they have for each other.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:58:08 PM PST

  •  The best love stories are where I get the girl (16+ / 0-)

    The worst love stories are where my best friend does.

    (If my worst enemy got her, I'd see a lot less of her, and it wouldn't hurt so much)

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:18:01 PM PST

  •  Best love story ever (14+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:29:27 PM PST

  •  For the bookish sort (9+ / 0-)

    here's a great list from Alternet:

    The 10 Worst Couples in Literature

    I was going to mention "Twilight" mainly for the borderline abusive portrayal of sex between Edward and Bella (Edward's strength leaving Bella badly bruised), but you've done a great deconstruction of the entire relationship. Guess I'd be "Team Jacob" if I was a Twilight fan; Jacob seemed to be far more psychologically healthy than either Bella or Edward from what I gather.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:29:34 PM PST

    •  Along The Same Lines..... (9+ / 0-)

      More than a few critics think the relationship between Bender (Judd Nelson) and Claire (Molly Ringwald), that is born out of John Hughes' The Breakfast Club, is an abusive one that is a disaster waiting to happen.

      From 5 Movie Romances That Won't Last (According to Science)

      Once more we get the Princess and the Bad Boy matchup, but the pairing in The Breakfast Club is actually far uglier than what we had in Star Wars. At least Han and Leia were adults who had been around the block, and presumably knew what they were getting into. The sad thing is, these relationships do happen in real life, but they more resemble what we get in The Breakfast Club--the naive young girl who mistakes profound antisocial tendencies for awesome badassery.

      Some girls like the idea of falling in love with angry, bitter, aggressive men with rap sheets and a history of self-destruction. Claire is one. She's established as the quintessential popular/rich girl, while Bender is the type of person destined for prison or various holes in the desert. He's antisocial, offensive and generally kind of a dick. Bender torments Claire so much that it's hard to tell whether he wants to stick his dick or switchblade in her.

      The movie makes it clear Bender suffers from post-traumatic embitterment disorder due to a traumatizing childhood of abuse and shitty Christmas gifts. This potent combination of helplessness and rage is bound to draw in a girl like Claire who wants to help almost as much as she wants to get back at daddy ... Claire is looking at a future of unrequited affection and excuses about running into the door.

      This sheds a whole new light on the final shot of the movie. After sharing a kiss with Claire, Bender appears to punch the air in a jubilant gesture that always seemed more than a little bit out of character. According to the science, he was just warming up.

    •  Along a different line ... (0+ / 0-)

      for book lovers I would suggest "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

      'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' Greek Proverb

      by janis b on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:55:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Have you seen Don Jon (7+ / 0-)

    I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt did a nice job of showing how men and women have skewed views of love and relationships thanks to movies. I highly recommend it.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:51:57 PM PST

  •  all love stories suck (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Doctor RJ, maggiejean, Matt Z

    loathe them.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:22:02 PM PST

  •  As you wish.... (15+ / 0-)

    I'm not over fond of 'love stories' unless they have a lot of other plot elements I like in them, and the love story is forwards that plot rather than is the center of it. About the closest I come to liking a 'love story' is The Princess Bride.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 04:13:35 PM PST

  •  No. (9+ / 0-)
    Has Peter Gabriel's music ever won a woman over in the "real" world?

    “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

    by Pluto on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:04:12 PM PST

  •  Chick lit! and chick flicks (6+ / 0-)

    A favorite topic, a guilty pleasure.

    Best chick lit voe story ever, all time, is "Jane Eyre" of course.  And best version, in fact, only version to do justice to the original (and wonderful justice), is BBC's 4-parter.

    Guilty pleasure chick flick:  "Happy Accidents" (Marisa Tomei, Vincent Donofrio)

    Sweet obscure chick flick:  "Princess Caraboo."

  •  here goes (7+ / 0-)

    Best- The Road. It's about Love between a father and his child. Don't know if that counts.
    Worst-Message in a bottle. Makes me gag.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:09:22 PM PST

  •  Oh, one more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "The Besieged," Bertolucci flick with the glorious Thandie Newton.  That one is a genuine pleasure, not a guilty one

  •  Irrelevant Crap (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is riight.

    Why is this on the FP?

    Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as shall never be put out.

    by Bollox Ref on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:12:33 PM PST

  •  I think Peter Gabriel's (8+ / 0-)

    music is wonderfully sexy and passionate.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:13:13 PM PST

  •  The madness of King George (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, maggiejean

    "Mrs. King."  "Mr. King".

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:13:25 PM PST

  •  I don't know if dogs count, but (7+ / 0-)

    in For the Love of Benji, the romance between Benji and a girl dog he meets is wonderful. Amazingly, in this movie Benji was played by a female dog actor while his girlfriend was played by a male! It's actually a very challenging thing for dog actors to play the opposite sex, but it's done all the time. Studios prefer to hire females because they can pay them less, of course.

  •  How about ... (9+ / 0-)

    Fitzwilliam Darcey and Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice).

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:15:16 PM PST

    •  Yes! How about? (0+ / 0-)

      In my humble opinion, the best romantic story ever written.  A hero who seems to be a prick, but is actually pretty honorable and just needs a little redirection, and a feisty, intelligent heroine who doesn't fall for his bullshit despite the material rewards it would provide her.  Plus, no one can ever forget Colin Firth as Darcy!

  •  Has Peter Gabriel's music ever won a woman over in (6+ / 0-)

    the "real world"? Probably not. But that early Genesis? Definitely!!

    "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

    by rocksout on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:20:30 PM PST

  •  Roxanne has my vote. (8+ / 0-)

    Steve Martin did a great job in that movie.  I laughed me ass off watching it.

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:23:20 PM PST

    •  Would we not then just go back to Rostand (0+ / 0-)

      for the original?  I believe Derek Jacobi's Cyrano is available on DVD.  Not to take anything away from the Martin movie; just wanted to add a pitch for the original.

      •  I've never actually seen (0+ / 0-)

        any of the other Cyrano De Bergerac based movies.

        Honestly, as a guy, I usually protest having to watch any mushy-type love story stuff, and only do it begrudgingly when a girlfriend ropes me into it.  Hey - I can't get her to go watch shit that blows up if I don't go watch the sappy shit she wants to see, yanno?  :P

        But Roxanne stands out as one that I enjoyed, largely because it was so funny.

        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

        by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:43:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cyrano (0+ / 0-)

          is more about a man's inability to find love because of his lack of physical appeal.  It's actually a very compelling story.  If you want to earn points with your significant other, suggest it one evening.  You may find it moving yourself.  However, I would avoid the Jose Ferrer film version; you'd curse me for suggesting that.

    •  'Worms, Roxanne! I'm afraid of worms!' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alhambra, Matt Z, Gardener in PA
  •  Also (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggiejean, Doctor RJ, Gardener in PA

    Who can forget The Princess Bride?  Another great one.

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:24:42 PM PST

  •  WALL-E (10+ / 0-)

    “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” ― Winston Churchill

    by paulitics on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:25:07 PM PST

    •  True Love's Kiss (5+ / 0-)

      I believe director Andrew Stanton has acknowledged the film is partially based on Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, but it also follows the basic narrative of a good many fairy tale. A hero goes above & beyond the normal to strange & dangerous places in search of the one he's fallen in love with, along the way his journey makes those around him better (the robots & the human race). The only difference is that WALL-E functions as "The Prince" during the first half of the film, and "The Princess" in the latter half of the film, especially the ending.

      He must be "awoken" with a kiss that signifies true love.

      One of the great things about the scene, and it speaks to how well the people at Pixar do their jobs, is WALL-E's eyes. When he's reactivated, part of what makes it so heartbreaking is how "dead" his eyes appear. The "life" he had in his eyes for the entire movie is gone.

  •  Somebody's gotta say Fellini (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He gets at primal love and gender dynamics like no other director

    •  I love most of Fellini's work (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but I don't know if they qualify as love stories:  La Strada, Notte di Cabiria; Giulietta degli Spiriti.  Giulietta Massina breaks the heart every time, but his movies seem to be about the failure of love than its realization, especially for women.  

  •  Never understood the notion (6+ / 0-)

    of Pretty Woman as a love story.  And certainly not as a good one.  It is rivaled for worst by Wuthering Heights.  I never understood the appeal of a story of a hostile man and a subservient/suffering woman.    

    A love story that popped into my mind as wonderful is:  Truly, Madly, Deeply.  Granted, it's about loss, but I found it a very moving film.  I would also include Dogfight as a contender.

    I am not a huge fan of love stories as they generally rely upon immature characters behaving in stock ways (hence the tropes outlined by the diarist).  Far too many love stories rely upon female masochism (see Wuthering Heights) to give me much pleasure.

    •  There was a movie that Julia Roberts was in (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, bartcopfan

      after Pretty Woman. She was married to an abusive man and faked her death to escape him. I always thought that was Pretty Woman part 2 in reality.

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

      by ZenTrainer on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:40:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sleeping with the enemy (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZenTrainer, Matt Z, bartcopfan

        What a bomb that was, but more realistic than Pretty Woman unfortunately.  Pretty Woman in short- sell your body for money and all of your princess fantasies will come true.  Yet it appeals somehow.  It is a highly regarded favorite of many women.

        •  I'm a woman who hated it (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alhambra, eashep, Matt Z, phoebesdatter

          and am baffled that so many like it.

          My memory is that Richard Gere was thoroughly unattractive (other than being physically handsome) and not much of a "reward". Yuk.

          I may have remembered this part wrong, but memory is that it almost had a happy ending, but then they ruined it. Wasn't Roberts' character leaving prostitution and pursuing other opportunities as a strong, independent woman? THAT would be a happy ending. Instead, the ass played by Gere shows up at the end to sweep her away and shower her with material wealth, condescension, and an utterly vapid and boring future.

          Granted, I only saw it once, and it was years ago, but that's how I remember it.

          Didn't care for Grease much either, the one time I saw it.

          •  When Gere carried off Debra Winger (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wasatch, Alhambra, Matt Z

            I am not ashamed to admit:

            I hurled.

          •  Another woman who dislikes Pretty Woman (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wasatch, bartcopfan, orestes1963

            Gere is wooden and uninteresting, plot absurd. Message seems to be, if the goods you're selling are good enough, prostitution is a good way to snag a rich husband.
            She's marrying a man who routinely hires hookers in a city he travels to regularly, even though he looks like Richard Gere. Which means he can't be bothered to take the time to actually talk to any women and establish enough of a relationship with her that she might accompany him to a party or have casual sex with him without being paid.
            Or, he doesn't want to be in a relationship where he isn't totally in charge and/or has to make any pretense of considering the other person's needs or desires.
            Hope she got a good pre-nup.

    •  Pygmalion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      orestes1963, RiveroftheWest, Alhambra

      Both My Fair Lady and the George Bernard Shaw play it's based on, Pygmalion, cover similar ground with a "hostile man and a subservient/suffering woman," but subvert it.

      Both are a deconstruction of the concept of teaching "proper" behavior, since Higgins gets just as much from Eliza as she gets from him.

      In Pretty Woman, Vivian saves Edward just as much as he saves her.

      •  I'd agree re Pygmalion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but I never warmed to My Fair Lady because Higgins (at least as portrayed by Harrison) is a prick.  Ending the show with, fetch me my slippers, has always left a bad taste in my mouth.  Of course, the Shaw play itself is based upon the Greek myth.  

        I would also differentiate this story from WH on the basis that the former characters have a business relationship.  Cathy suffers solely for love.    

  •  Ruth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht, Doctor RJ

    Ruth & Naomi, then Ruth & Boaz.  


    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:35:19 PM PST

  •  WALL-E (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3, Doctor RJ, Matt Z, Pale Jenova

    Brings tears to the eye

  •  Another good animated one (7+ / 0-)

    The first ten minutes of UP. I couldn't watch the rest of it without being absolutely, thoroughly depressed.

  •  The Graduate (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, wader, LinSea, wasatch, Denver11, Matt Z

    I thought it was a great movie.  LBJ thought it was the craziest fucking movie he ever saw.

    Looking back now, Elaine was not a developed character at all.  But for someone living in the culture of 1966, it was a vital movie.  (Yes, it came out mostly in 1968, but it was a protest against the early '60s.)

    Younger generations now agree with LBJ.  But if you lived those years before the sexual revolution, you "get it."

    I'm from Johnson City.

    by Al Fondy on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:49:56 PM PST

  •  "Life is Beautiful" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, LinSea, Matt Z

    ...and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo".

    "Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?" - General Jack D. Ripper

    by wilder5121 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:51:02 PM PST

  •  Saw review which listed opening scene of"From Here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Matt Z

    to Eternity" as the best love scene of any movie in history. Can't disagree.

  •  Everafter... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, chimene, Matt Z, Gardener in PA

    Drew Barrymore as a Cinderella who can rescue herself... and get the prince...

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 07:57:29 PM PST

  •  There are two kinds of love stories (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    janis b, Alhambra, Matt Z

    A love story that makes you fall in love, and a love story that makes you understand what love is.
    The first category is the most popular, codified by the famous romantic tales such as Romeo & Juliet, Titanic, An Affair to Remember and so on.  These stories manipulate the observer into identifying with the characters on their romantic journey, and then conclude at an emotional climax, before the realities of life can interfere with the ideals being presented, even if the death of a character is required to achieve that conclusion.  The natural action of the observer is then to continue the emotional narrative personally.
    The other category is more complex and less readily embraced, although it can have just as profound an impact on the observer.  Anthony and Cleopatra, Brokeback Mountain and the legend of Orpheus come to mind as works that often confound observers or readers at first, but linger, allowing a contemplation of their many facets to provide instruction on the intricacies of emotional commitment and the value of making such a commitment regardless of its cost.  A film I would recommend most heartily in this regard is Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged.  
    On a lighter note, for a thorough and delightful journey through the frustrations and joys of discovering love, the ten-season arc of Friends is one of the greatest romantic comedies ever achieved

  •  Princess Bride (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    told the wife (when she was still almost-the-girlfriend?) that it was a really run comedy...without actually denying anything else.

    she was never able to accuse me of deceit without a smile on her face.

    Righteousness is a wide path. Self-righteousness is a bullhorn and a blindfold.

    by Murphoney on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:14:00 PM PST

  •  romeo and juliet, for me is the most cliche (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Matt Z, Pale Jenova

    story in the Shakespeare canon. both of them are self-centered oblivious twits, who off themselves over a misunderstanding. running away, especially in that era, was basically a death sentence. the family would cut off all support for both of them, and romeo would - le gasp- have to find a job to provide for them. the worst version of Rand J is the Lion King 2.  romeo and juliet by itself is bad enough but lk2 is a third rate Romeo and Julit. kovu, who happens to be the only male in the story who survives - his  adopted brother Nuka dies- and Kiara is Simba headstrong bratty daughter. those two have no idea what it means to form a new pride- in reality it takes years, and would require a place thats relatively safe, has prey around and fresh water- all things the Pridelands has in abundance, and the areas around it do not. kiara running off to be with kovu, right after Simba tosses him out, would be , in Simbas eyes a complete betrayal. if he defeats Zira's coup attempt, kIaras not welcome back if she decides to come back, and Kovu would be executed for returning after his exile. if Zira wins, both of them would be killed on sight.and the ending where they decide  not to fight after all the buildup of deep hatred between the two sides - the depth of which could only really come from zuira attacking simba on a very deep and personal level- like going after his child- made everything pointless. in addition Simba  simply having  one daughter doesnt make sense since lion prides are male dominated and kings would by necessity prefer sons- and this leaves out Vitani kovus sister, who at the end of the film has no male to mate with- Simba is too old and Kovu's her brother- and one lion prides arent keen on having rogues come in- too much risk of that rogue getting would have been far truer to the romeo and Juliet story,  if zira had killed kiara during the final fight, which enrages kovu to fights his mother, pushing both of them over the cliff into the churning river below. both of them die, ending the fighting due to the senseless tragedy. vitani as the last survivor, would become the queen, by default, since theres no one left with the standing to challenge her.

    •  If Lion King 1 was Hamlet . . . (0+ / 0-)

      How could it have a sequel?

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:37:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  because simba survived in the end and had a cub. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pale Jenova

        thats why. having only one cub, after everything that happened to him, would not make sense. he would know from first hand experience that bad stuff happens, and you need to have contingency plans in place for the unforeseen. which is another reason the sequel sucks. if something happens to Kovu, who does Simba turn to?whats his plan b? if anything happens to kovu, the pride is screwed 5 ways from sunday, and even if he and kiara have a cub that cub is in no way shape or form able to rule a pride at a very young age should kovu disappear or be need an adult male ready and able to step in.n other words, you have to expand the pride. in real life, lion prides often have several males running them. those are called coalitions. most of the time , they are brothers but sometimes the ma;les are not related at all. there can be 2, 3 or even 4 lions running a pride. there are three kind of brother-brother bonds. the first is brothers by blood. the first film did that and it didnt work. scar hated his brothers guts and Mufasa overlooked his brother. a coalition between them would have never worked, as Scar wanted the throne. the second is brothers by adoption. the second film did that, as zira adopted Kovu. that didnt work, as Zira favored kovu and Nuka was incompetent. again a coalition would not have worked. the third and final bond is brothers by marriage., brothers-inlaw. in order for that to occur , you have to give Kiara a brother. adding in new characters is part and parcel of sequels, and adding in someone with the clout and status to tell Kiara off when shes being bratty is something that LK2 sorely lacked.adding in a male who doesnt treat kovu with contempt is something that really should have happened in part 2. her brother(named kopa)'s return ends any chance of kovu becoming king, as kopa has the royal birthright. since lionesses have a seperate hierarchy, kiara is not affected by her brothers return, as they both inherit from thier father and mother respectively. unlike in the first film where scar was the second male born to the king, and got squat.   vitani would then have someone to be with and would become royalty herself. both kovu and vitani would be known as consorts, which is the title given to the mate of a king or queen who is not royalty. kovu is a prince consort, which is the mate of a ruling queen, ala Prince Phillip in England, and Vitani would become a princess consort, a rarely used title for the wife of a ruling king or prince. Grace Kelly was  a princess consort in Monaco.

        •  Wow--quite the Blood Royale (0+ / 0-)

          Of course, I watched the Lion King movies for the warthog and the meercat anyway. Hakuna matata, everyone!

          And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

          by Pale Jenova on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 07:09:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I always thought "Made in Heaven" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    was rather fresh in its lack of pretense - it set out to be a film about "true love" and its implications, and that's pretty much what it lived up to.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:21:38 PM PST

  •  i hated pretty woman (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theKgirls, wasatch, Matt Z

    an update on the cinderella complex. my favorite under-appreciated romances are a little romance- easily the best film ever about first love, waking the dead, and a man and a woman.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 08:32:26 PM PST

  •  The Notebook. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Must see if you like love stories

  •  The Grass is Greener (0+ / 0-)

    is maybe my all time favorite romance movie.  Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchem.  A light touch on an adult romance.

  •  College freshman year (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, churchylafemme

    In my college freshman year (8 years ago), our dorm was structured like so:

    1st floor, guys
    2nd floor, gals
    3rd floor, guys
    4th floor, gals

    ...and on one of the first days upon moving in, my roommate and I were outside on the hill beside it. He noticed one of the 2nd floor windows was open, said "oh, one moment!," ran inside and came back out with a stereo.

    I really wish I could remember which song it was, but it may have been a Peter Gabriel one. At any rate, he turned it on and serenaded whatever stranger might have been in there. Bemused, she looked out the window and then stepped outside to see what was up. They've been together ever since.

  •  I always celebrate Feb 13 as well.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    which I call "The Day of the Bogus Ultimatum." It's dedicated to the bullshit that people subject other people to in pursuit of an ideal and nonexistent love with deeply maladjusted and emotional unavailable individuals. After reflecting how much time I wasted on lost causes, I am then ready to appreciate what I have.

    I don't really have a favorite love story.  I prefer watching things like Fatal Instinct, Just Friends, Adventure Land, and Chaos Theory. Stuff where people make a real mess of things.

  •  I hated that movie ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    And John Cusack and his stupid boom box and giant coat.

    But I'm somewhat curmudgeonly.  I like him more in recent years.

  •  Worst: Giant block-head nerd Leonard (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    And overrated Penny in 'Big Bang Theory.'

    I will brook little argument that Leonard Hofstadter is one of the biggest d-bags on TV.  Whiny, insecure, jealous, untrusting ... plus that HUGE head and squinty eyes and monobrow.

    Yeah, it's TV but the guy irks me.

    And I've counted five pretty hot women he's 'been with.'

    That could happen.  Especially in sitcoms most likely written by old guys who were once geeks.

  •  Most obsessive love story movie I've ever (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alhambra, Gardener in PA

    seen would probably be "The English Patient."  Saddest weird love story I've ever read: "Sophie's Choice."  Love story I cried the most over (I was 14 and saw it six times): Zeffrelli's "Romeo and Juliet." Best all around: "Pride and Prejudice" of course!  Mr. Darcy!!!

  •  What a lovely topic (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sapere aude, Alhambra, Mokislab, Doctor RJ

    to relieve the angst for a bit.

    My own current favorites  that I would recomend to most(and yes, okay, they are all candy):

    --Film, 2006, "The Illusionist,"  with Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel. The single #1 most magical/romantic film I know. (Forces Attempting To Keep True Love Apart)

    --Cohen Brothers' 2003 film, "Intolerable Cruelty," with George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. Also one of the top funniest films around IMHO, but for some apparently a bit close to the bone (Relationships Built Out Of Hate)

    -Film from 1998, "Shakespeare In Love," With Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, etc. (Forces Attempting To Keep True Love Apart)

    --And of course, that incomparable hit from the 1590's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Will Shakefpeare himself.

    •  Loved, loved, loved "Intolerable Cruelty" (0+ / 0-)

      Usually I don't like movies starring Pretty People(tm) (maybe because I'm not, LOL) but the Cohen Brothers are one of my favorite filmmakers, and Clooney & Zeta-Jones absolutely sparkled in that one. Plus Billy Bob, Edward Herrmann, Cedric the Entertainer, were also brilliant, brilliant.

      I like the film-inside-a-film feel of "Shakespeare In Love" Also loved all the inside-jokes of the movie. The soundtrack is one of my favorites also.

      •  Aha! (0+ / 0-)

        Another "Intolerable Cruelty" fan, how great!

        Sorry, can't seem to rec your comment. My computer situation is such that the site is only about half functional for me any more. (Or vice versa.) Apologies  

  •  How about the one where he says "Always"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gardener in PA

  •  in your eyes (0+ / 0-)

    such a beautiful song, at the time, still now, if we only had more song-smiths like peter gabriel

    free the information

    by freelixir on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 02:45:54 AM PST

  •  i'd be amused (0+ / 0-)

    to hear what is considered a comparable love song these days - girl, you're wonderful just as your are?  lol

    free the information

    by freelixir on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 02:50:25 AM PST

  •  Say Anything... and When Harry Met Sally... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim bow

    That iconic scene with Lloyd (Cusack), the boombox and Gabriel, as memorable as it is - so misunderstood! Roundly mocked, as if that could win over a girl - and yet, note the boombox ploy doesn't get the girl in the movie either. We see Diane (Skye) listening, and it is clear she is moved, but it doesn't motivate any action on her part. It is only later when Lloyd has moved on (no longer calling, engaged in his kickboxing) that she comes back and asks his forgiveness for dumping him and acting like she didn't love him (which - as we, she, and he know - she did). This is about as honest a portrayal of the stutter-step experience of true first love as has ever been portrayed on screen. And since he stopped calling of his own accord and only did the boombox move once: Not stalking. Say rather that this film is about giving love a second chance (Diane's and Lloyd's; also, Diane and her father's.) Say Anything... should definitely be on anyone's short list of "bests".

    Separately, as a nice contrasting experience: When Harry Met Sally... (What is it with the ellipses?) Commonly misconstrued as a love story from the beginning, even though it's clearly not - when they first meet there is nothing to bring them together, and they don't, going separate ways. Also commonly seen as illustrating the failure of men and women to be "just friends" but again - no. Rather, see the love story as beginning in the double date scene when their two best friends end up with each other and ride off in a cab, leaving Harry and Sally looking at each other awkwardly and, suddenly, aware of the possibilities. And from that point, negotiating the trap-strewn pathway from friendship to romance. Fundamentally, I think this film succeeds as one of the first to tackle modern romance, that is, falling in love with someone you know who has a history (with you; with others...). Another clear winner for the "bests" column.


  •  In the vein of Twilight... (0+ / 0-)

    ...there's An Indecent Proposal, wherein the character played by Demi Moore shows independent will whatsoever and allows herself to be pretty much bought away from her husband by a rich guy. Then, when she discovers she'd rather bewith her husband after all, she somehow needs permission from the rich guy to go back to him.

  •  The Station Agent (0+ / 0-)

    like a delightfully nuanced wine, a love story that hits all the high notes by paying close attention to the low notes. luv it!

  •  I watched about 20 minutes of "twilight" (0+ / 0-)

    and was horrified.  The message to teenage girls was he may seem like a scary potentially abusive brooder but give him a shot it might be meant to be.  In other words ignore all those warning signals and go for could be fate.

  •  The Judd Apatow leading "man" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    Gorgeous women with a lot going  for them going for a truly disgusting man/child.

    What ever happened to the Cary Grant type?  He may have been a ner do well, but at least he was always charming and you knew he smelled great.

  •  Don't forget "up" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, bartcopfan
  •  hate/love trope is usually taken from Shakespeare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    "Taming of the Shrew", of course.

    Kind of surprised you didn't mention it... I find parts to be scary and disturbing.

     Petrucchio keeps Kate from eating or sleeping and gets her to call the sun the moon and publicly pledge her devotion to him....

    and lots of people think it's a classic romantic comedy!

  •  Pat and Mike (0+ / 0-)

    Hepburn, Tracy, and a love story in which the woman (a wonderfully athletic Kate Hepburn, striding across the golf course) faces a choice between the handsome, socially prominent fiancée who undermines her, or the dumpy shady guy who supports her and helps her win. And she makes the right choice!

    In later Hepburn Tracy pairings, her character is forced to diminish herself to find love and happiness with a man, but not in this one.

    Speaking of Hepburn, and leaping ahead many decades, The African Queen is a pretty good love story.

  •  Ladyhawke. Fantasy, Rutger Hauer, nice music. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SisTwo, Doctor RJ

    One of the most beautiful, heartbreaking scenes in the movie:

    Real Democrats don't abandon the middle class. --John Kerry

    by Lucy Montrose on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 05:59:26 AM PST

  •  my two cents (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    Casablanca - still great

    Annie Hall - great, great, but I don't consider it a love story, per se

    Say Anything - just about a perfect movie in every way, though the scene with boom box has become like a cliche, but not the movie's fault

    Eternal Sunshine - don't see this right after a divorce - I was devastated. In a good way. Amazing movie.

    Garden State - I loved it, despite people who put it down. Great soundtrack too. It was much more than a love story to me.

    Reality Bites - I also loved it despite the flaws. I thought that, while true that Ethan Hawke's character was an ass, he did redeem himself. And while Ben Stiller's character was set up to unfairly take crap, they did give him some good lines that fairly pointed out the problem. Love is insanity, and there's no explaining why she ends up with the jerk - but it makes sense in the movie.

    Now - special word for the most overrated piece of trash "RomCom" ever ... Sleepless in Seattle.  There has never been a more contrived piece of garbage - and anyone who loves that movie, really should get out more.  Whenever I rip this to people who don't know any better - they always say "well, you're a guy, you don't like romance" ... This isn't it at all. To all the women who say this: This movie is insulting you. There are some awesome romantic comedies that exist in the world - don't sell yourself short with this nonsense. And I generally like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, so it's not that.

    The end.

    the most comprehensive college hockey resource

    by AdamW on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:44:03 AM PST

  •  By the way ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... special thumbs up to "Her" - which I just saw. Not a love story, per se,  maybe ... but as a rumination on love - perhaps will go down as an all-time classic.

    the most comprehensive college hockey resource

    by AdamW on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:49:34 AM PST

  •  A few of My Favorites (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    Hollywood doesn't think that Black people do "love" given the paucity of films about our romantic relationships, so I'll list three of the best that I can watch any Valentines' Day (or any other time):


    Love and Basketball


    Love Africa? Love Opera? Love documentaries? Then you will love the The Tenor from Abidjan

    by shanikka on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 06:49:45 AM PST

  •  The Curious Case on Benjamin Button. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Brad Pitt aging backwards as Cate Blanchett ages forward. They meet in the middle, fall in love, and have a baby.  He leaves her because his ever decreasing age makes it impossible for him to be a father. I won't go into the rest, for risk of spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but the last 20 minutes will rip your heart out.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:06:29 AM PST

  •  Her -- a great movie, but a bizarre ending (0+ / 0-)

    What, now operating systems go full Buddhist on us?

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 07:38:55 AM PST

    •  you could ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pale Jenova

      ... talk about that movie and interpret it for days. So many ways to look at it.

      the most comprehensive college hockey resource

      by AdamW on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 12:05:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My wife asked me after the movie (0+ / 0-)

        if I could fall in love with an operating system.

        I said, not Windows Vista--no way!

        And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

        by Pale Jenova on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 03:58:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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