I won't have what she's having, thanks: Valentine's Day films are chocolate box coupledom

If we must have smoochy films for Valentine's Day, can't the schedulers come up with something more imaginative than this?

Share
Related Topics

If the February blues have not quite reached you, the annual
perfume-cloud of pink roses and plastic love hearts that assail the high street
on Valentine’s Day might provide the final push. It’s enough to make you want to
run for cover in a darkened room - just as long as you don’t run into a cinema.
The BFI, among others, is running a series of Valentine’s Day screenings to
mark the moment on this apparently romantic day.

Of course there is nothing new in this. It’s a commercial opportunity that’s now well-established. We see this kind of scheduling every year, but must we? The BFI, in fairness, are not the worst culprits. Their film choices are more original than most cinemas, with an offering of perfectly respectable classics: Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor’s grand love story in A Place in the Sun that is riven by class-struggle and aspiration of early 1950s America; From Here to Eternity, a pre-Pearl Harbour barrack-room saga starring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra and Deborah Kerr; Powell and Pressburger’s ‘heaven and earth’ romantic fantasy, A Matter of Life and Death, are among them. No-one can rail against the monochrome heterosexuality of the line-up either, as the BFI has scheduled in diversity with Weekend, Andrew Haigh’s story of the ‘morning after’ a one night stand between two gay men, and A Perfect Ending, a film which encompasses lesbian love, orgasms (or lack of) and escorts. The films are alright, so to speak, but the fact that they have been deemed Valentine’s Day material takes the shine off them - their magnificence is undermined by their association with twee, chocolate-box coupledom.

It shows what scheduling can do to a film. To my mind, they come to represent a bland, uniform love, for a bland, uniform Valentine’s tradition. It would be great to see the BFI and others simply ignoring the day next year, with its corrupt intent to turn a commercial venture into a cultural one.

Other cinemas have given us a lot worse. A colleague expressed dismay at last year Valentine’s Day screenings at the Ritzy Cinema in South London (known for its quirky independent-mindedness). You had the choice between that golden oldie, Pretty Woman, or that even older golden oldie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, two very different kinds of stories about prostitutes-turned-romantic-leads, on 14 February.  Do we have to have the Christmas TV equivalent of It’s a Wonderful Life? It’ll be When Harry Met Sally being shown next. Hold on a minute, Kensington Roof Gardens’s ‘Rooftop Film Club’ is showing just that this month, alongside Dirty Dancing, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Casablanca.

Can’t cinemas be a little more unpredictable in their choices? What about the race-romance between Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke in My Beautiful Laundrette? What about old love? One of the most painfully memorable films about the nature of love and passion is the German movie, Cloud Nine, though it might not be ‘pretty’ enough for some Valentine’s Day crowds.

Or else, what about a degree of knowing and impish humour in cinema schedules. There’s the comical gender-bending of Some Like It Hot? There is also, more darkly, the American slasher, My Bloody Valentine?  Some of the best, most romantic loves stories are miserable, or violent, or comical, or have utterly miserable endings. Why can’t we see more of those on 14 February, if we have to see any ‘love stories’ at all? Some Like it Hot is in fact being screened by an initiative called Edible Cinema alongside a film-themed tasting menu. Kitsch maybe, but at least it has some originality.

Of course, part of the problem is Valentine’s Day itself – a thoroughly unromantic tradition. Which real romantic needs a given calendar day to be reminded to buy their loved-ones a meal, a bunch of flowers, a weekend away? Romantics don’t need a set date to see a date movie.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing...

KS2 Teacher

£105 - £120 per day + Expenses: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randstad Educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The EU must take more responsibility for the migrants risking their lives to reach Italy

Benjamin Ward
The view from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Why I can't wait to leave London and live in a free, independent Scotland

Yannis Baboulias
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week