Love is in the air. Here at TNC we love romance and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day of the year to celebrate it. So what better way to celebrate the notion of love everlasting, temporary and unrequited than by rounding up a couple of our staff members to discuss their favourite mushy movies and TV shows? Naturally, as you’d expect from our eclectic bunch of weirdos, we have everything from sitcoms, to monster movies to demonic police officers… So hopefully there’s something here you wonderful folks to agree with, or perhaps even discover for the first time should you heed our advice and seek out these gems.
Love can come in all shapes and forms, so feel free to share with us your favourite romantic titles – or even anti-romantic fare, if you’re a love cynic.
Rachel Bellwoar – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-)
When Greg left for college on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend it never occurred to me that he wasn’t coming back. “It Was A Shit Show” was more of a temporary goodbye song. A season long farewell. When articles started proposing permanence I really didn’t see that coming. I’m glad I didn’t, because for the next few episodes I wasn’t sweating the possibility that we’d seen the last of Greg Serrano. Instead I was falling in love. With friendship.
The nerve of those writers. Friendship replacing a smoking hot romance? They knew friendship was a sensitive subject! But then the exes of Rebecca’s exes started sporting matching t-shirts (#gurlgroup4evah). They shared prehistoric times themed drug trips. They moved in together. It didn’t matter anymore if you were Team Greg or Team Josh. Rebecca getting back together with either of those men would mean Valencia or Heather getting hurt, and that was no longer acceptable. Finally we were learning what Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s beating heart, Darryl, had always known. This Valentine’s Day, we need more love songs about friendship.
Rebecca Booth – Spring (2014)
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s directorial debut, Resolution (2012), is innovative, intelligent, and beautifully written. The meta-elements and narrative complexity are both captivating and clever, and the small cast brings comedy and heart to what was, for me, the best debut in horror cinema during the last decade.
As such, I was extremely excited for the pair’s follow-up film. With Spring (2014), Benson and Moorhead again assumed their respective roles as writer and cinematographer to craft another original and organic story that creatively turns the tables on their previous feature. As the name suggests, the film is concerned with chemical, biological and evolutionary change, the seasonal or cyclical nature of life itself, love, loss, metamorphosis, and mortality. The film’s blending of biological determinism, historical fact, and Lovecraftian lore is inspired, and elevates the quiet and subtle heart of the film – its central characters and their relationship, brilliantly realised by Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker. Jimmy LaValle’s soundtrack is achingly beautiful and the film is simply stunning – Italy is as much a character as the two leads.
If you haven’t seen this or Resolution – I implore you to go in with as little knowledge as possible. There’s something cinematically classic in the creativity of these films, and Spring is a timeless story that will haunt you for all the right reasons.
Kieran Fisher – Highway to Hell (1992)
How far would you go for your significant other? Would you go to Hell and back? Literally? It takes a brave person to enter the Underworld after all – especially in pursuit of a demonic police officer who kidnaps virgin brides-to-be for Satan. That’s essentially the plot to Highway to Hell: when young runaways Charlie (Chad Lowe) and Rachel (Kristy Swanson) take a back road shortcut on the way to Vegas to tie the knot, their plans are disrupted when Satan’s sergeant, Hellcop (C.J. Graham), appears from nowhere, abducts the unsuspecting damsel, and takes to Hell’s highway (as the title suggests; I bet some of you thought this was AC/DC related). Like the brave young fool in love his is, Charlie goes right after him and what ensues is one of the most charming, inventive and strange adventures in the history of motion pictures.
Highway to Hell is a smart, playful and deliciously offbeat take on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Orpheus entered the Underworld to bring back his dead wife after she was bitten by a snake. As the story goes, he was able to convince Hades and Persephone to let her go – but with a catch attached. All Orpheus has to to do is climb to the Upper World without looking at her as she climbed behind him, but he fails and she falls back down to the pit. In Highway to Hell, however, all Charlie has to do is beat Hellcop in a no holds barred car race and return to the human plain before time runs out. Does it have a happier ending than the Greek tragedy? Well, you’ll just have to watch it and find out…
The depiction of Hell in this movie is so clever; the road there is literally paved with good intentions and the horrors that dwell there are an amplification of everyday frustrations in life: rude waiters, bad traffic, etc. Sure, there are also a couple of horny demons here and there as well, but for the most part it’s rooted in drama most of us can relate to, only in a netherworld populated by quirky characters. You’ve never seen Attila the Hun and Adolf Hitler like this before…
Highway to Hell is a perfect film; a blend of horror, comedy, fantasy, adventure, action and, most importantly, romance that’s just irresistible. Very few have seen this forgotten gem, but out of those who have yet to, I have yet to encounter a single one of them who doesn’t adore it. Director Ate de Jong also helmed the cult classic Drop Dead Fred the year before, which is actually pretty crap and I don’t really understand its appeal. However, here he struck lightning in a bottle and delivered an absolute classic.
Rachel Bellwoar – Queer As Folk (1999-2000)
Television always likes to put an expiration date on unrequited love stories. Rooting for the underdog is popular at first but eventually one sided lines aren’t satisfying, so new love interests get added, to make new shapes (preferably commercially successful triangles), and everyone’s romantically better off for it. Chloe Sullivan marries Oliver Queen instead of Clark Kent. Winn Schott buries the hatchet with his romantic rival, James Olson, to design his vigilante costume. Everybody’s super happy, but does moving on always have to be the concluding answer? Why is unrequited love viewed so poorly, that the possibility of a person living a full life beside a person they love, without romantic reciprocation, earns scoffs, or worse, sad glances?
Vince Tyler is the unrequited love holder’s champion. I’ve never watched the American version of Queer As Folk, for the reason that, from what I’ve read, the romances play out a lot differently, but with Vince, whose love for Stuart Alan Jones is something I can understand, unrequited love is enough. Sticking around and being at the beck and call of a narcissist is ok and the reason it’s ok is, whether or not you think there’s romance waiting there (I’m a believer), Stuart loves Vince. I’d argue Stuart needs Vince more than Vince needs Stuart, and it’s not because Vince makes his life easier (he does). Vince is the person Stuart cares about, the one other person whose opinion he values. Maybe their relationship can look one-sided, and maybe in some ways it is, but when there’s no one else you’d rather spend your day with, you don’t move on because society finds your relationship insufficient. You stay in that permanent best friend zone for as long as it brings you happiness.