5 Great Romance Films on Netflix

Today is Valentine’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than by watching romantic films? Even if you aren’t going to spending your Valentine’s Day with someone you love, you can celebrate by appreciating the great love stories from cinema. These are some of my favorites that are available on Netflix instant for you to watch tonight (I also just realized that four of the six films I chose deal heavily with death. I don’t know what that says about my relationship with romantic movies, but these are all really excellent, regardless).

The Apartment, 1960, dir. Billy Wilder

I developed a small crush on Jack Lemmon after watching this film for the first time. I say small because he is and always will be John Gustafson, the grumpy old man, to me, but he is so darn charming in this movie it’s impossible to not fall a little bit in love with him. Shirley Maclaine is equally as charming, and you spend the entire film rooting for them and detesting Fred MacMurray. The story is smart and quick- a young man works his way up the business ladder by letting his superiors use his apartment for evenings with their mistresses. This leads to a romantic complication.  When Jack Lemmon’s character comes to the realization of said complication, the look on his face is heartbreaking. A great film, with one of the best endings to a romantic comedy of all time.

Amélie, 2001, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet

I can confidently make the claim that there isn’t a single movie in the world more charming than Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie. Amélie is a young Parisian girl doing her best to help those around her, and in doing so she finds herself falling in love with a photograph of a man she finds in a photo booth.

SWAYZE DOUBLE FEATURE: Dirty Dancing, 1987, dir. Emile Ardolino/Ghost, 1990, dir. Jerry Zucker

I couldn’t make a decision, so here’s two Swayze features, both are modern classics. I, ashamedly, didn’t see Ghost until last year, but I cried like a baby. That final scene really is as romantic as it’s given credit for. I’ve seen Dirty Dancing numerous times, but I just recently watched it again and remembered how great it really is (and Patrick Swayze is REMARKABLY sexy in that movie, I mean, it’ll make you weak in the knees).

Sabrina, 1954, dir. Billy Wilder

Bogart, Hepburn, Holden- it’s star-studded! My favorite Hepburn film that I’ve seen. It’s still bizarre to me that Audrey Hepburn was often put in the role of awkward, gangly brunette who isn’t immediately seen as beautiful. She’s one of the most iconic American beauties. This is a great film, though. I haven’t seen the remake with Harrison Ford and I don’t need to- this one is perfect. Isn’t it romantic?

Rent, 2005, dir. Chris Columbus

Rent is indubitably my favorite musical. I’ve never cried so hard at a musical (the I’ll Cover You reprise? I was a human waterfall). It’s full of love stories, Mimi & Roger, Collins & Angel, Maureen & Joanne, Mark & his film, it’s a perfect musical. Jonathan Larson was a genius, and his story is heartbreaking. He died unexpectedly of an aortic dissection the morning of Rent‘s first performance Off Broadway. Larson was a straight man who wrote such a touching story of addicts, homosexuals, and struggling artists in 1989 at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The fight for gay rights is, unfortunately, still an issue today. Here’s hoping that soon equal rights will actually mean equal rights and love will mean love and anyone can marry whoever they want regardless of gender.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Annie Hall (one of my favorite films of all time, the story of a break up), Love Story (sad sad sad sad sad), Big Fish (just the scenes between Ewan McGregor and Alison Lohman), Frances Ha (I would definitely include this in a Galentine’s Day list- seriously the best friendship story)

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TO PORTLAND: I’VE LOVED YOU FROM AFAR

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I crave the Pacific Northwest. I’ve never been there. In fact, I’ve never set foot on land farther west than Mississippi. For some odd reason, though, still, I have a crush on the Pacific Northwest. 

It started when I was a sophomore in high school and I discovered Nirvana. 

“Kurt Cobain is from Seattle. It’s usually cold and rainy there. I need to be in Seattle” were sentences that ran through my mind on a regular basis. I thought Seattle to be awfully romantic, and I, of course, romanticize Kurt Cobain, it’s hard not to. Keep in mind, I was chin-deep in teen angst at the time and I thought the idea of sublime artistic suffering while watching the rain fall with a coffee mug in hand and blanket wrapped around my cold, frail (I say frail because in this particular daydream, I was a starving artist. I am by no means frail, mind you) body, listening to the emotional strain of Kurt Cobain singing over and over again, Something in the way… Something in the way… was the direction my life needed to be heading toward. I decided I wanted to be a music producer and after college, I would work for SubPop records. Easy as that. 

The teen-angst ended, luckily it didn’t involve me doing anything my parents would disapprove of- I basically just listened to a lot of 90s grunge and discovered the indie scene and art house films. While I still love Nirvana, the complete obsession died out, too. I forgot about the PNW for a while and focused on other things, like boys, high school melodrama, and my budding music production career. Once in college, I realized music production was not for me and I pursued graphic design, which was very much for me. I graduated from high school in 2010, and then, in 2011, Portlandia premiered.

There’s something about the name, Portland. The syllables hit hard, almost like a staccato, before exiting the mouth. Port-land. Elliott Smith was from Portland. Mark Rothko was from Portland. Gus van Sant is from Portland. Portland. I developed an idealistic perception of this dream land where I wanted so badly to be. In Portland, I would be free to be a liberal without having to explain myself and argue with anyone who asked my opinions on political and social issues. In Portland, I could say proudly that I’m a feminist and support gay rights without being accused of being a lesbian- the two don’t coincide, guys! Straight people can support gays and lesbians, too! Look at me, I’m straight, I think everyone should be able to get married! In Portland, I would never be more than 5 minutes from a record store. In Portland, I could dye my hair lilac and receive compliments instead of dirty looks. In Portland, my boyfriend and I could ride bikes everywhere and have an adorable Siberian Husky named Ripper and a gray cat named Tattletail. In Portland, I could do anything I wanted and succeed, because I would be in Portland. 

It’s strange, isn’t it? It’s almost like I’ve become Jay Gatsby and Portland is my green light; my Daisy. The truth is, I know nothing about Portland. I’ve invented my idea of Portland. I’ve conjured it up completely on my own. Sure, I’ve done research and read PDX Blogs- I think I follow more Portland-area twitter accounts than I do Huntsville-area twitter accounts- but I’m okay with that. Because as long as I’m in Alabama, I’m going to continue dreaming about Portland, and maybe one day, I’ll get myself there.