Valentine’s Day: 50 Shades of everything but grey.

So, Fifty Shades of Grey is finally in the theatres. Excited? No? For all of you who want to watch something more meaningful this weekend, here is my pick of 50 films that are perfect for Valentine’s day (or for whenever you feel like watching something a bit more romantic).

  1. Brief Encounter (1945, dir. David Lean)
  2. In the Mood for Love (2000, dir. Wong Kar-Wai)
  3. Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000, dir. Hong Sang-soo)
  4. Amour (2012, dir. Michael Haneke)
  5. City Lights (1931, dir. Charlie Chaplin)
  6. Breathless (1960, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
  7. L’eclisse (1962, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni)
  8. Pierrot le fou (1965, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
  9. Wings of Desire (1987, dir. Wim Wenders) – a romantic fantasy film about the invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin, listen to the thoughts of human inhabitants and comfort those in distress. One of the angels (played by Bruno Gantz) falls in love with a lonely trapeze artist and chooses to become human. (Does this summary rings a bell? Of course it does. This film had a disastrous American remake by the name of City of Angels with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan in the main roles. The original is nothing like the remake though! Another amazing fact about the original version: there’s a scene with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds performing From Her To Eternity.)
  10. Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967, dir. Dušan Makavejev)
  11. Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)
  12. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder) – a love affair between 30-years old Moroccan migrant worker and a 60-years old widowed cleaning woman who are drawn together by their loneliness. One of Fassbinder’s most powerful films.
  13. Le Bonheur (1965, dir. Agnes Varda)
  14. Chungking Express (1994, dir. Wong Kar-Wai)
  15. In the Realm of the Senses (1976, dir. Nagisa Oshima) – this one may not be for everybody. Then again, if you considered watching Fifty Shades of Gray sometime in the near future, this may be just what you need to watch tonight. A story about a dangerous mutual obsession between Sada Abe and Kichizo Ishida that generated a great deal of controversy during its release. The fact that it contains quite a lot of unsimulated sex scenes is just one of the reasons for that.
  16. Badlands (1973, dir. Terrence Malick) – two psychotic young lovers commit a murder and run away into the desert. Malick’s first feature-film and an all-time American cult classic. “Transcendent themes of love and death are fused with a pop-culture sensibility and played out against a midwestern background, which is breathtaking both in its sweep and in its banality.
  17. Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz)
  18. Vertigo (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
  19. A Matter of Life and Death (1946, dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
  20. Before Sunrise (1995, dir. Richard Linklater)
  21. Before Sunset (2004, dir. Richard Linklater)
  22. Before Midnight (2013, dir. Richard Linklater)
  23. The Shop Around the Corner (1940, dir. Ernst Lubitsch) – you’ve probably all seen You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. This is the original version of the film (with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in the main roles) – and I probably don’t have to point out that Lubirsch’s version is way better than the remake. And I mean – way better.
  24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, dir. Michel Gondry)
  25. It Happened One Night (1934, dir. Frank Capra)
  26. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, dir. Elia Kazan)
  27. Jules and Jim (1962, dir. François Truffaut)
  28. Singin’ in the Rain (1952, dir. Gene Kelly)
  29. Weekend (2011, dir. Andrew Haigh) – two men meet and fall in love in Nottingham, UK, only a week before one of them plans to leave the country. One of my favourite LGBT love stories.
  30. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964, dir. Jaques Demy)
  31. A Room With a View (1985, dir. James Ivory)
  32. Loves of a Blonde (1965, dir. Miloš Forman)
  33. Annie Hall (1977, dir. Woody Allen)
  34. Manhattan (1979, dir. Woody Allen)
  35. The Graduate (1967, dir. Mike Nichols)
  36. Bonnie and Clyde (1967, dir. Arthur Penn)
  37. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989, dir. Peter Greenaway)
  38. Lost in Translation (2003, dir. Sofia Coppola)
  39. Certified Copy (2010, dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
  40. Harold and Maude (1971, dir. Hal Ashby) – one of the best romantic dark comedies I’ve ever seen. It’s about a young man Harold, who is deeply intrigued by death and (to his mother’s displeasure) fakes his own death on regular basis. After meeting a 79-year-old woman named Maude, the two form a close relationship that eventually transforms into something quite romantic. The two meet at the funeral and what follows is one of the most unusual and funny love stories of all time.
  41. Love Is Strange (2014, dir. Ira Sachs)
  42. Design for Living (1933, dir. Ernst Lubitsch) – this Hollywood’s pre-Code romantic comedy revolves around a woman who can’t decide between two men in her life – they both love her, she loves the both of them. The trio eventually decides to live together in a platonic relationship – which doesn’t exactly work out as they think it would, of course, and she ends up having an on-again, off-again relationship with both of them. (How could a film about a woman who refuses to be in a monogamous relationship be released in the early 30’s is beyond me.)
  43. She’s Gotta Have It (1986, dir. Spike Lee) – “A woman can be a sexual being and doesn’t have to belong to a man – and perhaps shouldn’t even wish for such a thing.” This is a modern-day Design for Living, set in an African-American community.
  44. The Philadelphia Story (1940, dir. George Cukor)
  45. The Apartment (1960, dir. Billy Wilder)
  46. Last Tango in Paris (1972, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci) – this one probably doesn’t need an introduction, does it?
  47. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013, dir. Jim Jarmusch)
  48. Maškarada (1971, dir. Boštjan Hladnik) – it’s about a love affair between a high-school athlete Luka and a happily married, but unfulfilled Dina. Slovenian cult film of the 70’s hippie generation that was extremely controversial (and consequently censured) upon its release. It was the first Slovenian film ever to be censured – and it remains the most controversial and erotic Slovenian film to this day.
  49. The Lovers (1958, dir. Louis Malle)
  50. Wild at Heart (1990, dir. David Lynch)

Edit: since it’s Valentine’s day again, but one year after I’ve made the original list, here’s 10 additional films:

  1. The Duke of Burgundy (2014, dir. Peter Strickland)
  2. The Lobster (2015, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
  3. Bright Star (2009, dir. Jane Campion)
  4. Beyond the Lights (2014, dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood)
  5. Open Hearts (2002, dir. Susanne Bier)
  6. Sidewalls (2011, dir. Gustavo Taretto)
  7. Away from Her (2007, dir. Sarah Polley)
  8. Mansfield Park (1999, dir. Patricia Rozema)
  9. Show Me Love (1998, dir. Lukas Moodysson)
  10. Obvious Child (2014, dir Gillian Robespierre)

8 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day: 50 Shades of everything but grey.”

  1. Fantastic cover photo! And by any chance, do you work for The Criterion Collection? Because they picked another still of the same film when they asked us, on Facebook, which is the most romantic film we have ever seen, just three days after this great post of yours. Anyway, you did it first. Wow.

    1. Thank you!

      I hated 50 Shades of Grey. It is awful and degrading to women and I think I hated it even more just for the fact that it was made by women – there is nothing more troubling than women making films about weak, submissive female characters who are prepared to do anything for a man (or for money; or in this case, both). It would make so much more sense if this was written by a man…

      And the fact that so many women identified with the story is even more troublesome. I don’t know… I’ve been meaning to write a proper review about the film for a month now, but I haven’t found the time yet. 🙂

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