5 most inappropriate Valentine's Day movies
Updated: 2011-02-09 17:03
LOS ANGELES – Anyone can run out and rent a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts for Valentine's Day. Anyone can stream the latest innocuous offering from Drew Barrymore — or Jennifer Aniston, or Kate Hudson.
But it requires real guts to sit down with that special fellow or lady in your life and take in one of these massively uncomfortable choices. So here, without any needless flowery language, are the five most inappropriate movies to watch with someone you love on Valentine's Day:
• "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966): Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor chew up the scenery and tear each other apart as the boozy and bickering husband and wife George and Martha. In adapting Edward Albee's painfully honest play, director Mike Nichols burst onto the scene with this, his first feature ("The Graduate" came the following year). He gets up close and personal to provide an intimate view of the carnage. Burton and Taylor start out slyly needling each other in front of their poor, unsuspecting guests, then humiliating each other, and by the end, they're threatening all-out war. That they were married to each other in real life — for the first time — only added to the intrigue. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards, it won five, including best actress for Taylor's scathing performance.
• "Closer" (2004): Another from Nichols, this time adapting a London stage production by playwright-screenwriter Patrick Marber. But it's reminiscent of "Virginia Woolf" for its intense performances and raw emotions. Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and, yes, Julia Roberts fall giddily in love with each other, but don't be fooled: This is the furthest thing possible from a date movie. These inordinately beautiful people do extraordinarily ugly things to one another — Portman, playing a stripper in her first truly grown-up role, commits some of her offenses in little more than a G-string — and the way they destroy each other and themselves is both brutal and breathtaking to watch.
• "Blue Velvet" (1986): Nothing is ever what it seems in a David Lynch movie, and that certainly applies to love, as well. So a severed ear found lying in a field is so much more than just a severed ear — it's the key to a disturbing, underground world of twisted romance. Beneath a veneer of genteel suburbia, Kyle MacLachlan gets sucked into the bizarre lives of Dennis Hopper as a nitrous oxide-addicted criminal, and Isabella Rossellini as his masochistic sexual slave. Voyeurism and depravity, Roy Orbison and Pabst Blue Ribbon all collide hypnotically here. Lynch alternates between glib satire and a much darker, starker exploration of secret fears and desires.
• "Natural Born Killers" (1994): Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis fall in love and kill people, and fall deeper in love and kill more people, and become media darlings in the process. It's sort of romantic ... in its own way. Oliver Stone isn't exactly subtle in his satirical exploration of underserved fame and all its trappings; as is his tendency, he throws everything at us, from various film stocks and frenetic camera angles to an editing style that suggests he cut the film in a Cuisinart. But he was onto something back then, and the thirst for juicy scandal continues to go unquenched, no matter how questionable a person's actions are.
• "Fatal Attraction" (1987): It's long since become a shorthand for stalking — for crazy, clingy women who are too delusional to take "no" for an answer. All you have to do is mention boiling a bunny and everyone knows what you're talking about. But back in its day, believe it or not, people actually took this movie seriously as a suspenseful thriller. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture and best actress for Glenn Close's indelible performance as a spurned, vengeful mistress. If director Adrian Lyne's sleek, steamy film has taught us anything, it's that it is so much easier to stick with your husband or wife than indulge in an afternoon tryst. So maybe this is a good movie to see with the one you love after all.
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