Happy Valentine’s Day! Hate watching romcoms? Hate romantic movies in general? Check out my top 10 dark and offbeat flicks this week instead featuring: The Shape of Water, Nina Forever, Swiss Army Man and more!
#10. Warm Bodies
2013 Director: Jonathan Levine
A terrible plague has left the planet’s population divided between zombies and humans. An unusual zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) sees his walking-dead brethren attacking a living woman named Julie (Teresa Palmer) and rescues her. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and the pair embark on an unusual relationship. As their bond grows and R becomes more and more human, a chain of events unfolds that could transform the entire lifeless world.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a sucker for literally any zombie flick floating around and Warm Bodies is no different. Nicholas Hoult is awesome and his portrayal of a zombie who falls in love with a human is both charming and disgusting. I love the world that Jonathan Levine created here with this post-apocalyptic Land of The Dead-ish society and the love story that forms actually feels genuine and real, despite the ridiculous premise of “love conquers DEATH”.
2013 Director: Spike Jonze
A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage ends, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes fascinated with a new operating system which reportedly develops into an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. He starts the program and meets “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), whose bright voice reveals a sensitive, playful personality. Though “friends” initially, the relationship soon deepens into love.
Who knew that Spike Jonze’s absurd indie about a dude falling in love with his operating system wasn’t black comedy but that he was actually predicting the future? There’s something beautiful and heartfelt about Theodore and Samantha’s blossoming relationship — one of which is never really made fun of during the film either. It’s just… a thing people do – they can date their iPhones and nobody gives a shit. This ‘near-future’ sci-fi romantic dramedy is the perfect break for those who can’t stop watching Black Mirror, because it’s just like that dating app episode from series 4 — but better.
#8. Nina Forever
2015 Directors: Chris Blaine, Ben Blaine.
After his girlfriend Nina dies, Rob falls in love with Holly. The new relationship faces a huge challenge when Nina comes back to life to sarcastically taunt the couple whenever they try to have sex.
The Blaine brothers made one helluva black comedy when they decided to turn the world of love triangles upside-down by creating this twisted tale of true undying love. This poor guy just can’t have a normal love life after his ex dies horribly and still manages to pop up, naked, covered in blood, every time he gets intimate with someone new. This film is sharp, well written and very weird. Watch it with someone who is up for the strangest shit on Valentine’s Day and you’ll be alright.
#7. Chasing Amy
1997 Director: Kevin Smith
Holden and Banky are best friends and authors of a popular comic book. Holden falls in love with Alyssa, who happens to be a lesbian. Holden’s relationship with Alyssa strains his life-long friendship with Banky, and soon the relationship between Holden and Alyssa has problems when he cannot deal with her past.
Kevin Smith is one of the most humble filmmakers on the planet – but even if he won’t say it, I will and proclaim his indie romance Chasing Amy as one of the greatest love stories ever made. It’s also incredibly sad, tremendously funny and frustrating as hell… Ben Affleck’s Holden falls in love with Joey Lauren Adams’ Alyssa, but she is NOT into guys. At all. This was actually a very groundbreaking film for its time and it holds up today despite being 90’s as fuck. Killer soundtrack, great writing and who doesn’t love a film that features a nice little moment with Jay and Silent Bob dropping some knowledge on Affleck’s puzzled ass?
#6. Swiss Army Man
2016 Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Being stranded on a deserted island leaves young Hank (Paul Dano) bored, lonely and without hope. As a rope hangs around his neck, Hank prepares to end it all, until he suddenly spots a man (Daniel Radcliffe) laying by the shore. Unfortunately, he is dead and quite flatulent. Using the gassy body to his advantage, Hank miraculously makes it back to the mainland. However, he now finds himself lost in the wilderness, and dragging the talking corpse named Manny along for the adventure.
OK. You ask yourself why is this on a Valentine’s Day list? You’re only asking that if you haven’t seen Swiss Army Man… Yes it’s about a young mentally ill man named Hank (Paul Dano’s best performance since There Will be Blood) who makes friends with a magical corpse named Manny played by Daniel Radcliffe… The two traverse the sea and survive in the wilderness together as Hank uses the dead man’s body as a tool of survival and more importantly – friendship. Read between the lines but Hank and Manny are in love and that’s just how it is world. Deal with it.
#5. True Romance
1993 Director: Tony Scott
A comic-book nerd and Elvis fanatic Clarence (Christian Slater) and a prostitute named Alabama (Patricia Arquette) fall in love. Clarence breaks the news to her pimp and ends up killing him. He grabs a suitcase of cocaine on his way out thinking it is Alabama’s clothing. The two hit the road for California hoping to sell the cocaine, but the mob is soon after them.
Quentin Tarantino’s script shines under the late Tony Scott’s masterful direction in this sleazy love story about a modern day Bonnie and Clyde who steal a mob boss’s money and run away to get married, leaving a trail of bodies behind them. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette’s on-screen chemisty is very genuine, thanks to a nice slow intro that develops their relationship before the carnage ensues and Gary Oldman shows up with dreadlocks and gold teeth.
#4. The Shape of Water
2017 Director: Guillermo del Toro
Elisa is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s classified secret — a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist.
This year’s leading awards contender is a throwback to classic Universal monster movies from the man who loves him some damn monsters. At it’s core the film is about finding love with someone who accepts you for what you are, which in this case just happens to be a fish man who is being held in an underground lab. Sally Hawkin’s portrayal of the mute Elisa is amazing but let’s not forget about Doug Jones, who plays “the creature” here as he officially cements his status as one of the all-time masters of the genre. If you could have a Mount Rushmore for monster performers, Jones would be right up there alongside Andy Serkis and Lon Chaney.
#3. Punch Drunk Love
2002 Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Although susceptible to violent outbursts, bathroom supply business owner Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) is a timid and shy man by disposition, leading a lonely, uneventful life — partly due to the constant berating he suffers from his seven sisters. However, several events transpire that shake up Egan’s mundane existence, one of which is falling in love with one sister’s co-worker, Lena Leonard (Emily Watson). But the romance is threatened when Egan falls victim to an extortionist.
Adam Sandler’s best acting performance of all time is in Punch Drunk Love. This dark and unsettling romantic drama about a shy unstable man who is slowly losing his mind, is an incredibly strange and wonderful trip about conquering depression and finding true love in the darkest of times. Paul Thomas Anderson made such a perfect little movie with Punch Drunk Love that he makes modern quirkey indies that try to capture the same tone look not only like copycats, but weak and sad knock-offs.
#2. Lars and The Real Girl
2007 Director: Craig Gillespie
Extremely shy Lars (Ryan Gosling) finds it impossible to make friends or socialize. His brother (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) worry about him, so when he announces that he has a girlfriend he met on the Internet, they are overjoyed. But Lars’ new lady is a life-size plastic woman. On the advice of a doctor (Patricia Clarkson), his family and the rest of the community go along with his delusion.
We’ve all known that one guy who brings his sex doll to the Christmas work party… Craig Gillespie’s bizarre and heart-breaking tale about a man who falls in love with a real-doll (those extremely life-like sex dolls), was one of the best films of 2007 when it came out and to this day, features Ryan Gosling’s most moving performance. You will well up with tears when Lars (Gosling) eventually has to accept the fact that this relationship maybe isn’t the most healthy situation for him to be in. If you’re turned off by the creepy concept – don’t be. The film is not graphic sexually nor is it over-the-top in any way. But it is definitely is about a dude who acts like his sex doll is a real person…
#1. Natural Born Killers
1994 Director: Oliver Stone
Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are two young, attractive serial killers who become tabloid-TV darlings, thanks to a sensationalistic press led by Robert Downey Jr. The press reports the pair as they go on a 52 people killing spree. A controversial look at the way the media portrays criminals.
Oliver Stone’s cocaine-fuelled tale about two mass murderers in love and on the run from the law, is even more ground-breaking than we all initially gave it credit for. Natural Born Killers isn’t just about love, but about the people’s fascination and obsession with the media which has the power to turn killers into celebrities. It’s quite shocking to see how ahead of its time this movie really was, but apparently all those drugs they took while filming this masterpiece let them see the future and film accordingly. Mickey and Mallory Knox are more important to me than any other romantic movie couple on film and I stand by that.
“I see angels, Mickey. They’re comin’ down for us from heaven. And I see you ridin’ a big red horse, and you’re driving them horses, whippin’ ’em, and the’re spitting and frothing all ‘long the mouth, and the’re coming right at us. And I see the future, and there’s no death, ’cause you and I, we’re angels…” – Mallory Knox.