Tag Archives: Romantic Movie Series

Romantic Movie Series – Final Notes

In February, I published a series of blog posts about my favorite romantic movies. I tried to pick some which I could really “get behind” in terms of script and characters whose decisions don’t all make me facepalm. Of course, I enjoy other romantic movies than the ones listed, but some are really for pure entertainment when I want a no brainer. The eight movies I wrote about in this series are some that I can rewatch, and some on a (semi) regular basis.

I realized that certain patterns emerge when I put these (unlikely) titles together. I like when the romance isn’t the sole narrative element of the movie, i.e. when it deals with family, career, blends different movie genres. I love good banter between the main couple of course, and solid chemistry, but I don’t see the need for graphic sex scenes. I enjoy when the chemistry is obvious and making the tension huge and sometimes almost unbearable while showing nothing graphic is a more solid accomplishment in my view from a direction standpoint.

I also find it important that the characters evolve but not just because of each other. It is important that they want a change and can take matters in their own hands and not just look for a crutch into the other person. Mutual respect and building the relationship over several months/years if possible is something I find important.

It seems that I’m showing that I’m entering my thirties at the end of the year, because I don’t really care anymore for teenage couple stories. I prefer watching movies about grown ups, even if “young” grown up. I don’t mind characters making mistakes: I think it is important they do, but I prefer characters who are able to learn from them, realize they made some, and not just be stupid hot heads the whole movie, or whining beings.

So, I hope that you enjoyed the blog series, and in February 2015, I already have another romance oriented blog series in mind, but not for actual romantic movies! Until then, here is the recap of all the lists from the 2014 romance series:

  1. The Cutting Edge
  2. The Bodyguard
  3. Serendipity
  4. Baby Boom
  5. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
  6. Kissing Jessica Stein
  7. Speechless
  8. Playing by Heart

Romantic Movie Series #8 – Playing By Heart

Directed by Willard Carroll and released in 1998, Playing by Heart is a choral movie which focuses on the lives of a group of people, all related one way or the other one family (Paul and Hannah the parents and their three daughters Gracie, Meredith and Joan).The cast is outstanding and a treat to see all interacting together. Special (personal) mentions go to Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands (they make such a wonderful on screen couple!), Gillian Anderson and Angelina Jolie.

Choral movies can easily be too scattered or boring in my view, but this one is one of the greatest examples of its kind I was given to watch. I am saying that even with some of the characters presenting no interest to me. I admit that I never cared for Gracie (Madeleine Stowe), Hugh (Dennis Quaid) and Roger (Anthony Edwards) characters in the movie. I wanted to, especially upon rewatch, but these three are those I don’t care for.

I love how the movie explore not just romantic relationships (I like how they are all layered and different from one another), but also family, difference and illness. I love how Paul doesn’t want his life to change although he has a deadly tumor. This is very important to see him wanting to make the best of what time he has left, and yet not making it “better” than what he had before. He just wants to carry on. Seeing his wife Hannah deal with it, including how they clear old issues is something I find extremely important in the movie.

In the same vein, I always find the scenes between Mildred and her son Mark – who is dying of AIDS – extremely touching. I like how they are being honest with each other, and stopping having secrets. The way it was done was heartfelt, difficult, sometimes funny, often emotional. They made it look so organic.

For different reasons, Meredith and Trent’s, as well as Joan’s and Keenan’s blossoming relationships are touching and are  complicated to happen for different reasons, because of how everyone has a past which carries on consequences to their present.

There is so much in this movie, and the final scenes when all ties together as everyone attends Paul’s and Hannah’s ceremony of vow renewal. It is a beautiful way to bring everyone together. It doesn’t make everything perfect, but it shows that moments of happiness are possible.

password: playing

Romantic Movie Series #7 – Speechless

While Geena Davis is one of my favorite actresses, I only got around to watching Speechless last summer. Directed by Ron Underwood and released in 1994, Speechless follow political speech writers Julia Mann (Geena Davis) and Kevin Vallick (Michael Keaton). The set up is pretty classic: they catch each other’s eye as they meet by accident one evening shortly after arriving where an upcoming election is going to happen. After a first evening spent talking, flirting and ending in an accidentally interrupted make out session in a car, they discover that they have the same job but for opposite sides.

Speechless isn’t any ground breaking romantic comedy, but it is one of my favorite regardless. I like how the characters get on each other’s nerves, but nevertheless respect each other in the end, beyond the pranks that can be pulled. While there are exes looming in the background, the movie feels more about what the protagonists want to do with their life than any sort of crappy love triangle/square.

Keaton and Davis have great chemistry and their banter is always priceless. There is also great sexual tension in the movie, and as in most movies I listed in this series, they don’t need graphic scenes to make it obvious. I have a particular soft spot for the ending when it is stated that Julia becomes an actual political candidate at an election and Kevin works with her, but still behind the curtain.

password: speechless

Romantic Movie Series #6 – Kissing Jessica Stein

Kissing Jessica Stein was released in 2001, directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld and co-written by its two main actresses Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt. It tells the story of two women who find themselves in a rather dry romantic land at this given time in their lives. On one hand, Jessica Stein is a Jewish copy editor and Helen Cooper is a art gallerist who is into more eastern spirituality and philosophy.

Curious to try a lesbian relationship out, for she has been pretty bored with male company, Helen places a personal advertisement including a quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The quote catches Jessica’s eye, for she admires Rilke. The two women eventually meet. Jessica freaks out but eventually hangs out with Helen the evening they meet nevertheless. After Helen kisses her, she realizes that she might be open to explore things with her.

This movie is quirky, touching and beautifully observed about life experiences. Jessica and Helen gain a lot from their relationship, not just in their sexual preferences, but also in what they want and who they can be. I love that they are able to remain friends once they aren’t romantic partners anymore, that they still are dear to each other. There is a lot of things about learning and evolving in one’s life in Kissing Jessica Stein, which is why I highly recommend it.

password: jessica

Romantic Movie Series #5 – Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was directed by Karan Johar and released in 2001. This Bollywood movie stars famous actors and focuses on the Raichand family, notably the three following couples: Yashvardhan “Yash” (Amitabh Bachchan) and Nandini (Jaya Bachchan), Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Anjali (Kajol), Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) and Pooja (Kareena Kapoor).

I love Bollywood movies, especially the mid 90’s-mid 2000’s. It has a lot to do with the actors, because the ones before and the one since then don’t have styles that speak to me as much. I like how feelings and emotions can be so well described and at the core of the characters’ experiences in these movies, including this one. I normally don’t like musicals, save for very few exceptions. Yet, I like this aspect of Bollywood movies and I find them a visually and musically appealing way to go through sentimental expression as well.

Without getting into too much detail about this three hour long movie, I love how it pans over about a dozen year, and show character development for everyone, even those like the father, who is set in his own extremely traditional ways. I like how all the characters have to navigate through ethics, familial values, free will and finding their ways in between cultures. Beyond the three different romances – only one shown during its early stages and not beyond marriage, family is at the core of the movie, and adds to all the dynamics at play.

password: family

Romantic Movie Series #4 – Baby Boom

Directed by Charles Shyer and released in 1987, Baby Boom stars Diane Keaton as J.C. Wiatt, an executive woman in New York, who sees her life turned upside down when distant relatives die in an accident and she inherits their baby daughter Elizabeth. J.C.’s life has always revolved around her studies and later on her career. As she makes it clear to her boss in an early scene in the movie, having a family isn’t on her to-do list and she breathes work.

The movie makes a great job at showing that being a mother isn’t an inherent quality for women. I love how J.C. first doesn’t want the child, and finds herself stuck with the baby as the lady handing it to her has a plane to catch. The same way, J.C. has no idea of how to take care of the poor kid nor how to do “basic” things such as changing a diaper. She had no time to prepare, nor did she want that in the first place, so the way she struggles with everything is very well portrayed.

J.C. eventually wants to use the clause in the relatives’ will that she can put Elizabeth up for adoption. It makes sense for her, and I find that the way she changes her mind is well done too. It isn’t simply the bond that starts to be built between she and the baby, but also how J.C. still stick to her “values”. She says it straight to the little girl when she takes her back with her after, walking outside of the adoption office: no miracles should be expected. And no miracles happen. It is a long work in progress.

Beyond learning to be a mother, J.C. also struggles in her professional environment when her having a baby is seen in a very negative way, to the point that she ends jobless, because she can’t be on top of everything in the company on a 24/7 hour basis. She also ends as such because she doesn’t want to focus on things she considers below herself.

Following that, she decides to move to Vermont, buying a house about which she has been dreaming for a while. Of course, the dream turns out into a nightmare – though she continues to build a relationship with her adoptive daughter and learns new things. She is bored at first, once the novelty is over, and then the house falls apart and all her money gets spent to try to fix it.

Yet, J.C. decides to fight back and to go back on top of her game and eventually starts a small business of baby food, which encounters great success after early difficulties, on both local and then national level. She becomes a successful entrepreneur when  people could have thought she was lost and unfound in Vermont. It is also great to see that she does research about starting her own business and plotting her new project. She was presented from the opening as a brilliant woman, but she still has things she can learn, including in her new line of work, and not just as a mother. It is encouraging and positive to see that J.C. is willing to do this.

The scene at the end when her former employers and business acquaintances have offered her an interesting proposal, and that she decides not to accept it, is one of my favorite. I like that she says that after all she has done on her own, she doesn’t need them to chaperon her to get further, that she wants to do things her way, and keep her life as she has now arranged it. This is a beautiful scene.

So, the romantic part of the movie… I mean I included this movie in my romantic series! I like how it isn’t the forefront of the narrative and comes in rather late. After hearing she needs to pay a few thousands more dollars to fix something in her property (again), J.C. passes out and wakes up in a doctor’s office (portrayed by Sam Shepard) and starts to talk about all that isn’t going well in her life, from being stuck in Vermont to having no intimate life. Soon enough, she realizes that he isn’t an actual doctor but the vet of the sector and is extremely offended, while he is mildly amused by her reaction. She storms out of his workplace.

This is classic antagonistic early stages of a relationship, and their banter will stay as entertaining through the rest of the movie. I like that while their relationship isn’t the main focus of the story, they still have a great built up before they eventually end together, and they show genuine interest in the other’s projects as well. Keaton and Shepard also have very solid chemistry! The sexual tension between them is obvious more than once, and they don’t need an actual bed scene to convince the audience. The moment the morning after between them in the kitchen is telling enough, from the sweet and playful embrace to him saying he normally needs more than twenty minutes of sleep per night: these are great and say/show what there is to.

password: baby

Romantic Movie Series #3 – Serendipity

Directed by Peter Chelsom and released in 2001, Serendipity stars Kate Beckinsale as Sara Thomas and John Cusack as Jonathan Trager. The two happen to meet by accident one day at Bloomingdale and spend the end of the afternoon and evening together. They get along wonderfully and share a lot during this fateful evening. They realize there could obviously be more between them but decide to leave the possibility of a future meeting in the hands of fate.

During the following years, they carry on with their lives both on a professional and personal levels. Yet, they always wonder whether they will be reunited. As they are both engaged, and Jonathan even close to his actual wedding day, they decide to see if fate might lead them to each other.

While this movie might seem irresistibly cliché, I like it because it says a lot about opportunities and timing in life, when it comes to people you meet and choices you make. I like how they didn’t cross any physical line when they first met, but knew they had a true connection. It is very poetic and also show that while they saw temptation, they didn’t act on it.

The way they also keep thinking about each other is also a catalyst for them to realize that the personal choices they had made weren’t meant for them and to break their respective engagement even when they have no idea they will meet again – and that Jonathan actually thinks Sara is happy with someone else.

While they eventually find each other again, with the little signs of fate finally showing up, the way they get to this shows them think for themselves as well, and not only in terms of what they might have together, shall they reunite.

password: serendipity