Romantic Movies for Valentines Day


So it’s Valentine’s Day. You and your sweetie have had a romantic dinner, or a nice walk (pleasant and warm even with the chill in the air), arm in arm, hand in hand, you decide to go back to the apartment and have a cuddle while watching a romantic movie that isn’t overly sappy… What do you choose?

Well, here’s a few of my favorites, ones that are always reliable and I always enjoy watching, and I can be a total hopeless romantic, so how’s that for a pedigree?

In no particular order we have…

CARTEL ITALIANO - 70x100Casablanca (1942) – What’s not to love about this one? There’s fantastic music, there are fantastic performances by Bogart and Bergman, some of the most quoted and misquoted dialogue ever, and what an ending!

Sacrifice, heartbreak, love, all set against the backdrop of World War II, as trouble comes in to Rick’s Cafe American in the form of the lovely Ilsa. They were lovers in Paris before the Germans rolled in, and she left him with nothing but a letter while he waited at the train station. Now, she strolls back into his life, hoping to obtain travel visas that he has. And she’s come in with her husband, resistance hero, Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid).

Who does she really love? What is she going to do? A beautifully crafted film, with enduring characters and moments, that still have the same resonance in the human soul, even as time goes by…

when_harry_met_sally_ver2_xlgWhen Harry Met Sally (1989) – A perfect companion piece to Casablanca as the main characters, Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) talk about Ilsa’s choices throughout the movie, even as their own relationship, romance, break-up and more happen to them…

Crystal and Ryan have great chemistry together, and are surrounded by a stong cast including Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, and there is a great soundtrack featuring some great tunes, including Harry Connick Jr. belting out It Had To Be You.

Yes, one could argue this movie is a good New Year’s Eve movie, what with the film’s climax, but it’s also a great film about two people who hate each other, become friends, sleep together, hate one another, and fall in love…

There are some priceless moments in this film, including Sally’s faux orgasm in the delicatessen, that have gone on to make film history. But at it’s heart it is almost the perfect rom-com.

sleepless-in-seattle-movie-poster-1993-1020191176Sleepless In Seattle (1993) – I love the three films that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have done together, Joe Versus the Volcano, You’ve Got Mail, and this middle film, Sleepless In Seattle. These series of films, along with Harry Met Sally, are my favorite performances from Ryan. Hanks plays widowed and single parent Sam Baldwin. One night, his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger) calls into a radio talk show to talk about his dad, when the announcer gets Sam on the phone to chat, Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) on her way to a Christmas party, here’s the interview and just connects with him.

Sam begins to think about getting back out there, and maybe meeting someone, and Annie begins to feel that she has to meet Sam, until finally Jonah, who has been going through all the ‘fan-mail’ Sam’s gotten from his radio appearance insists Annie is the one, and arranges for everyone to meet atop the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

This one makes a nice tie-in with An Affair To Remember, in that the film is referenced throughout.

Once again, this one has fantastic music, has a sweet heart, and you want these two to end up together, you know things won’t always be perfect, but you know they’ll make a wonderful couple, and wonderful family, and hey… It’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, what’s not to like about that?

notorious_xlgNotorious (1946) – Alfred Hitchcock’s classic is a very welcome member of this list, as Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman take center stage in this tense drama. Grant plays Devlin, a government agent, who approaches Alicia Huberman (Bergman), who’s German father was convicted of treason, to go to South America and infiltrate a group of Nazis who escaped there after the war.

As the film progresses, Devlin falls more and more in love with Alicia, even as she falls deeper and deeper into her work.

Hitchcock has crafted a masterful film, that allows these two actors as well as Claude Rains as lead Nazi Alexander Sebastian and Leopoldine Konstantin as his mother.

It becomes apparent very quick that Devlin is falling for Alicia in a big way, and is worried about the risks she’s taking, especially when Sebastian begins to suspect that she may not be all that she is pretendibg to be.

A fantastic classic film that I need to watch again very soon!

love-actually-movie-poster-3762Love Actually (2003) – Yes, it’s a movie that is set at Christmas, yes, this one is a gimme, but it also has a brilliant, star-studded cast, is a British comedy, and definitely wears its heart on its sleever. You either love it or you hate it.

Hugh Grant is the new PM who finds love at 10 Dowling St, Liam Neeson is a single widower, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson are a married couple who are about to fall on hard times when Thompson’s character lears Rickman’s is having an affair, Martin Freeman and Joanna Page are stand-ins for a porn film, Kiera Knightley is married to Chiwetel Ejiofor but his best friend is in love with her, Colin Firth is heartbroken when his girlfriend is discovered cheating and heads off to a remote location to work on his book… And Bill Nighy is an elderly rocker with a new version of the classic tune Love is All Around just in time for Christmas.

The story weaves in and out, has laughter, and tears, and proves that if you want a romantic comedy done right, you should leave it to the Brits.

This one you can watch anytime of the year and share with those you love.

eternal_sunshine_of_the_spotless_mind_ver4Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her entire relationship with Joel (Jim Carrey) erased via a new technology. Out of spite Joel decides to undergo the same procedure, but over the course of the evening, as the memories are expunged from his mind, he realizes that he wants to hold onto all the moments he had with Clementine, good and bad.

He tries to hide her in other memories, clinging to every little bit of her he can recall, even though in the real world she doesn’t even know him anymore, and someone else, Patrick (Elijah Wood), is using her removed memories to try and romance her in the way that Joel did.

Filled with heartache, honesty, and the belief that love isn’t going to be perfect but that it is going to be real, this film touches a chord inside me.

I feel bad that I don’t watch often, but I enjoy it everytime I do, the concept of memories and how we perceive others, and that timid and easily hurt form that is the human heart in love…

This is a gorgeous film that never fails to disappoint.

serendipitySerendipity (2001) – John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale…  I like them both, throw in Eugene Levy, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan and you’ve got a fun little romantic comedy. Cusack and Beckinsale are Jonathan and Sarah, who have one chance meeting one night in New York at a department store counter, and spend a wonderful evening together.

Sarah believes that if they are meant to be together, life will find a way to bring them back into one another’s lives, and slowly, but inevitably, they begin to intertwine as marriage is on the horizon for both of them.

Imbued with a gentleness, a sense of fun, and one that makes you want to believe that things like this can happen all the time (and who says that they don’t?! Sometimes some insanely crazy things happen in this world, and makes you wonder if we really are all connected somehow), Serendipity never fails to entertain me.

I love when Cusack plays comedy, and I also enjoy anytime he and Piven share the screen together, because they are comic gold!

Also, a good portion of it was shot here in Toronto (posing for New York) and I love learning stufff like that!

last_of_the_mohicans_ver2_xlgThe Last of the Mohicans (1992) – At the most inorppotune times, I find myself stopping and exclaiming… “You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.” That, or whistling the brilliant score by Trevor Jones…

Daniel-Day Lewis plays Hawkeye, who is asked to oversee the protection of Cora Munro (Madelilne Stowe) while war between the French and English wage around them.

Slowly the romance between the two develop, much to the chagrin of the British officer who would have Cora for his own, and climaxes in a massive pursuit that sees Hawkeye facing down all comers as he seeks to save her from a raiding party of Huron, led by the vicious Magua (Wes Studi).

Fantastically paced, and interweaving well-crafted action sequences with stong characters and an engaging love story, this one doesn’t get enough play in my blu-ray as it should!

it-happened-one-night-poster__largeIt Happened One Night (1934) – This is a film I was just introduced to recently, filling a blind spot that had been left there for way too long, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Obviously, some of it is a little dated, but the characters, the whip-smart dialogue, and the premise all stand the test of time.

Clark Gable is newspaper man Petter, Claudette Colbert is Ellie, a bit of a rich girl who is trying to get to New York to meet her fiancee, despite her father’s opposition.

The two get thrown together, and smelling a story, Peter agrees to help, as he’ll get an exculsive, but along the way, the two of them begin to first get on one anothers’ nerves, then under the skin, and finally into the heart.

Although neither of them realize that almost until the last moments of the film.

Frank Capra made a romantic, funny and escapist film that 80 years on can still entertain you. Don’t give this one a miss!

pbThe Princess Bride (1987) – Another gimme, but this one is a winner each and everytime, whole-hearedly romantic, action, and tons of comedy, this film has something for everyone and sends me back to the first time I saw it back in 87 every time I watch it.

Learning the stable boy she loved is dead, Buttercup (Robin Wright) agrees to marry Prince Humperdink (Chris Sarandon). The prince has other plans for her, he wants her dead so that he can have a war, and things seem to be headed that way when she’s kidnapped by Inigo (Mandy Patinkin), Fezzik (Andre the Giant), and Vizzini (Shawn Wallace). A masked man, the dread pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes) comes to her rescue.

Revelations, adventure, revenge, monsters, death, and true love make up this film directed by Rob Reiner from William Goldman’s beloved book.

It also features music by Dire Straits frount man Mark Knopfler, and like every other title on this list, has easily stood the test of time, don’t you think?

Finally as an honorable mention I wanted to mention two Pixar films that have incredible love stories in them.

wall_e_ver11The first almost entirely silent half of  Wall-E (2008) where a little trash droid meets  and the probe named EVE, who has come to Earth to see if it is suitable for human colonization again.

After interminable years of being alone, but for his friend, a cockroach, Wall-E is dumbstruck by EVE and falls for her almost immediately. For her, it takes a little longer, but watching the beauty of their relationship come to life is something to see.

And the first 15 minutes of Up (2009) when Carl and Ellie meet as children, become inseperable, choose to live and love one another despite the tragedies that life often brings, and celebrate the beauty of it as well, until the final heart-breaking moments that will eventually send Carl on the adventure he’s dreamed about all of his life.

Pixar knows how to make them.

So, what will you be watching this Valentine’s Day?


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Galaxy Quest (1999) – Dean Parisot


The 101 Sci-Fi Movies list (can you believe I’m almost done with this one?!?) brings me this brilliant science fiction comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell.

Airing in the late 70s early 80s the show Galaxy Quest garnered a huge fanbase (in a clear homage to Star Trek). The show featured the heroic crew of the NSEA starship NTE-3120 (NTE stands for Not The Enterprise) Protector, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) as Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, Alexander Dane (Alan RIckman) as his science officer the alien, Dr. Lazarus, Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) is computer officer Lt. Tawny Madison. Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) is Tech Sergeant Chen, the ship’s engineer and young Laredo (Corbin Bleu in the show/Daryl Mitchell when he grew up) is the pilot.

Their heyday has passed but due to the show’s popularity they still frequent cons, and store openings, and it is this con where we join them, and they are in turn joined by Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) who played a no-name character who got killed off in an episode before the first commercial, your generic red shirt. Despite the fact that most of his fellow castmates don’t like him (for stealing the best lines, cutting them out of episodes), they all admit he knows the show backwards and forwards, and always takes time with his fans.


That is until an odd group of silver suited folks show up, led by Malthesar (Enrico Colantoni - who created the brilliant and unusual way that he speaks), Teb (Jed Rees) Quellek (Patrick Breen) and Laliari (Missi Pyle) show up. Nesmith mistakenly assumes they are a group of fans that he’s supposed to meet and do a private function with, but that is actually super-fan Brandon (Justin Long).

It seems these folks are actual aliens, who believe the television show is an actual recorded event, and have come to Earth to seek the help of this most famous crew to save their race from the evil Sarris (Robin Sachs), who was designed by the late and sorely missed Stan Winston and his studios.

What follows, as each of the cast members learn what is really going on, is a hilarious take on fandom, science fiction television shows and the good and bad featured in them.

They board the actual Protector, and have to learn to work together more so than they ever did for the show, and the stakes are so much higher than ratings. In the end, it’s the fans who help save the day due to their knowledge and love of the original series, and that speaks to the heart of fandom – the love and knowledge of a television show. It’s brilliant when Nesmith reveals to Brandon that it’s all real, his reaction is something I always wished I could so with Star Trek or Star Wars.


There are injokes a plenty, sly little nods to archetypes, clichés, and well-known films and shows. It pokes fun, but pays homage to the fans who love these shows, and is also full of heart.

I saw this movie in the theater, loved it, and was delighted to learn that upon its initial release to DVD there was an alternate audio track, completely in the original Thermian – I’d be damned if I could understand it, but it was AWESOME!!

But that’s the point of the movie, it’s awesome, it’s funny, the gags are brilliant (miner vs minor), and it always reminds us to…

“Never give up… Never Surrender!”

Fellow Questarians, what is your favorite moment in the film?


Die Hard (1988) – John McTiernan

die_hardThe 101 Action Movies brings me another one of my favorites.

Fresh off the success of Predator, McTiernan took Bruce Willis, then mostly known for the TV series Moonlighting and launched him into superstardom as everyman police officer John McClane, who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Flying out from New York to California to see his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and their kids for Christmas, John arrives at Holly’s place of work, a 40-storey office building for the annual party. Shortly behind him are a gang of smart thieves, letting the authorities think they are terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (the always brilliant Alan Rickman).

The building is locked down, no one gets in or out, and it’s up to John to try to save the day as he is by turns the hunter and the hunted as he takes the villains down one at a time. For all that, McClane is by no definition a superhero, he’s an average guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and as the tension builds so does his wise-ass attitude, and of course his now trademark catchphrase makes a welcome R-rated appearance.

diehard_lMcTiernan proved he could direct action sequences in Predator, in this film he perfects them. He also takes his time with the set-up, establishing his characters and the building’s geography.

John is pushed to his limits, barefoot and living by his wits as things get worse and worse as the building and its surroundings is filled with bullets and explosions.

Outside the building allies are few and far between, Gruber has anticipated every move the authorities will make, leaving Agents Johnson (Robert Davi) and Johnson (Grand L. Bush) flapping in the wind. Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) stays in contact with McClane via radio, despite the fact that Powell’s boss Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson (Paul Gleason) doesn’t believe a word of it.

Stirring the pot is Richard Thornberg (William Atherton), who learns the connection between Holly and John and broadcasts it…

gruberThe film races to its climax, as John shows down against Karl (Alexander Godunov), Gruber’s right hand man, and finally against Hans himself.

But he certainly doesn’t come through unscathed, by the film’s end he’s beaten, bruised and bloodied, and to this day, the scene with the glass still makes my feet clench.

I can remember the first time I saw it, once again at the theater on the American base in Bermuda, and I went both nights it screened. I had never seen an action movie like it. It was smart, funny, and expertly crafted. For the longest time, as a teen, this was my favorite movie, after Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and was watched repeatedly on VHS and DVD. Everything in it just seems to work, without a single missed moment or opportunity.

diehardThere’s no question that the bad guys get their comeuppance, but they give as good as they get, they just never expected someone like John McClane to be a problem.

Michael Kamen provides a pulsing score to go with the action on the screen, as McClane leaps from rooftops, rides elevators, and savagely takes down his enemies.

The interplay between John and Al grounds the film, especially post-glass while McClane considers his odds while in the bathroom, blood everywhere. He comes across as a real guy, and its moments like that, coupled with his terrible handling of his catching up with Holly at the film’s beginning  that do that.

johnThat and the fact that he is battered almost beyond recognition by film’s end, but his wits and improvisational skills keep him going.

This one continues to tower over all other action movies before or since, and can always be counted on to get me through a rainy day.

What’s your favorite John McClane moment?


Tim’s Tops of 2011

I’m gonna take a page from my creative partner, Sue, and give a run down of my favorite films of the year; though it appears that we do have a lot of the same films on our list.

1) The Muppets – This movie is sheer joy, and by far the best time at the theater I had all year. Sure you can blame that on nostalgia if you like, but I also believe it was a truly well written and well made film. Seeing my old friends on the big screen again made me laugh and smile. Call backs to the series made me teary-eyed and reminded me of how much fun these characters are. And that’s why we let them into our hearts in the first place.


2) The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard – This film is linked in my mind eternally with our site. Jeremy Lalonde the film’s director was kind enough to give us our first interview, and helped us launch our podcast format, and putt us in touch with some wonderful people. Thank you for that! But beyond that, this wonderful Canadian film is witty, fun, and has oh, so much heart. Even now, thinking about my favorite scenes makes me smile, and gives me shivers when I think about the performances. The longing for a DVD of this film may soon be fulfilled, and then everyone can share in it!


3) War Horse – A beautiful film made by one of my favorite directors. Spielberg works with an adaptation of the cherished children’s novel and brings to life the story of a horse named Joey who goes to war, and sees the good and the bad on both sides. Spielberg’s magic is on full display here and the film is touched with heart-touching and heart-breaking moments. Everything you’ve come to expect from a Spielberg film.



4) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – As stated yesterday in my review, I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, being such a fan of the original novel and film. But Fincher showed a deft hand and delivered a tightly wrapped thriller that was incredibly faithful to the book, and Craig is likable as Blomkvist and Mara’s turn as Lisbeth, while not a carbon copy of Noomi Rapace’s original effort is fairly close and is exactly what you think Lisbeth would behave and act like. Though as a personal side note, I preferred Rapace’s dragon tattoo on her back than the shoulder one given to Mara.


5) The Adventures of Tintin – Enjoyable Spielberg fun for the whole family! This film was an enjoyable romp that gave Spielberg his first animated film, as well as his first 3D film. Based on the beloved French comic this film could launch a whole new tent pole series, as long as the big players remain involved, I’m on board. And where else can you see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as identical police officers? Brilliant!



6) Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II – I just finished rewatching the entire series yesterday, and Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a wonderful cap to the entire series. In fact this time through it affected me even more emotionally that it had the first time through. It’s easy to brush these off as simple family movies, but from the beginning the books and the films have spoken to the important themes of friendship, loyalty, belief in oneself, and doing what is right. And of course, this film allows for Alan Rickman’s finest performance as Severus Snape, proving what an amazing actor he is.


7) Super 8 – The Goonies and Stand By Me meets E.T. and even that comparison does the film a disservice. Lovingly made by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, the film recalls moments from many Spielberg films, and took us back to a time when you didn’t have to lock your doors at night, and neighbors looked out for one another. Filled with a nostalgia that made me recall my own youth, and performances from children who seem able to act beyond their years, Super 8 was, for me, a magical film experience.


8) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – I’ve been a huge fan of this series since its launch, and was very eager to see Brad Bird’s first live action film. I was delighted that it paid off as much as it did! What have you got next for me Brad? This is a highly enjoyable spy romp that embraces everything about the original series, updating it for today, and had some truly fantastic sequences. It also saw my favorite character, Simon Pegg’s Benji as a full field agent, hopefully to reappear in the potential sequels with Jeremy Renner.


9) Hugo – Martin Scorsese made a truly beautiful film about the love of movies and their origins. Wrapping it in a mystery for a young boy to solve, the film brought to life the early days of cinema. It showed us once again that if a movie is done right, it can transcend popcorn entertainment and revitalize the love of an art form that far too often gets shunt aside in the desire to make a fast buck.



10) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – An old school cold war thriller, the film is a slow burn that constantly ratchets up the tension as George Smiley attempts to flush out a Russian mole inside MI6. The film had a stellar cast rounded out by the always amazing Gary Oldman, a chameleon of an actor who buries himself in each and every role he takes on. It also didn’t play the viewer for a fool or pander to the audience. A smart spy thriller about an age seemingly long gone.



So there you have it, my top ten films of the year, I would be remiss however if I didn’t give a few honorable mentions to other films I loved this year…

-Hanna, young actress Saoirse Ronan looks to have a long and amazing career ahead of her.

-Paul, featuring the ever awesome Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two geeks on a cross-country road-trip who have a close encounter. I love these two guys working together, they are always a sheer delight, and I would love to go for a pint with the two of them anytime!

-Source Code, Duncan Jones’ follow-up to Moon, Code was a fun temporal tale featuring Jake Gyllenhaal.

-Thor & Captain America, ramping us up for next year’s Avengers these two Marvel adaptations expanded the growing comic book universe and were good popcorn entertainment.

and finally the surprising X-men: First Class, another comic book film that introduces us to Xavier and Magneto before they turned against each other, both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are top form in this movie and of course there’s January Jones, as Stan Lee might say… ‘Nuff Said