Movies to watch this Valentine’s Day


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Stars of “My Man Godfrey” Carole Lombard and William Powell pose in a promotional photo for the film.

By Eli Tecktiel, Lifestyle Writer

So you’re looking for something to watch on Valentine’s Day that doesn’t star Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Maybe you’re tired of watching cliche, unimaginative love stories that you feel like you’ve seen hundreds of times before. 

It can be difficult to find romantic films that are captivating and original, so I have compiled six of the best unconventional love stories to watch this Valentine’s Day.

“My Man Godfrey” (1936)

The “screwball comedy” genre quickly rose to prominence in the 1930s at the height of the Great Depression. These films put a lighthearted, farcical spin on the multitude of social issues that were plaguing the United States at the time.

Directed by Gregory La Cava, “My Man Godfrey” stars Carole Lombard, arguably the queen of screwball comedy, alongside her real-life ex-husband William Powell. The film follows a once-wealthy homeless man, Godfrey, as he becomes the butler for Lombard’s aristocratic family, all while hiding his own upper-class past from them. 

During the Great Depression, the idea of a wealthy woman falling for a homeless man would have been shocking to say the least. Even now, it’s not the kind of story you hear very often. 

The highlight of this film is undoubtedly Lombard’s frantic and chaotic performance, which earned her only Oscar nomination before her death just a few years later. “My Man Godfrey” manages to be both hilarious and heartwarming, while tackling numerous serious issues of the time period.

The film is in the public domain and it can be watched on YouTube.

“Laura” (1944)

Film noir, another genre that had its heyday during Hollywood’s Golden Age, is embodied in perhaps its purest form in Director Otto Preminger’s “Laura.” Though on paper it may look like your typical whodunnit, the film quickly moves in a dark and unpredictable direction.

It’s hard to talk about a mystery film without giving too much away, but here’s the basic set-up: A detective (Dana Andrews) assigned to a complex murder case finds himself falling in love with the victim (Gene Tierney). If this isn’t an unconventional love story, I don’t know what is.

From there, the film steadily surprises us with frequent plot twists and revelations. If you want a darker romance film, look no further than “Laura.”

“Minnie and Moskowitz” (1971)

As one of the pioneers of early independent American film, director John Cassavetes is mostly known for his raw, often uncomfortable portrayals of realistic characters. Though his style is still very much present, “Minnie and Moskowitz” is likely his most enjoyable and accessible film.

The film follows a museum curator (played by Cassavetes’ wife Gena Rowlands) trapped in an abusive relationship with a married man (Cassavetes) as she meets and develops a chaotic relationship with an eccentric parking attendant (Seymour Cassel).

Though “Minnie and Moskowitz” is by no means a laugh-a-minute comedy, it’s definitely a more playful look at human relationships than one would usually expect from Cassavetes. The relationship between Minnie and Moskowitz is a fractured union between two broken people who couldn’t be more different from each other. 

Despite being a lighter film, it’s certainly no “When Harry Met Sally…” Cassavetes has a way of capturing the tension between two people in a way that feels so real, it makes you squirm in your seat. 

I would recommend this film to anyone who’s looking for a love story that defies all the cute cliches of typical romantic comedies and prefers a film that embraces raw, flawed humanity.

While we’re on the subject of Valentine’s Day movies, it should be noted that Nick Cassavetes, the son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, would later go on to direct “The Notebook,” which Rowlands also appeared in.

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2005)

A list of unconventional love stories would be incomplete without director Judd Apatow’s magnum opus, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” 

Though the film has all the vulgarity you’d expect it to, it’s a very sweet love story at its core. 

Andy (Steve Carell), age 40, works as a salesman at an electronics store. At a poker game with his younger co-workers (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Romany Malco), he reveals to them that he’s a virgin and has never been in a relationship. 

His co-workers drag him along on a series of hilarious outings in an attempt to help his situation, but Andy ultimately finds love on his own when he meets Trish (Catherine Keener). As he attempts to hide the fact that he’s a virgin from her, their relationship goes through many amusing twists and turns. 

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” set the tone for Apatow’s later directorial efforts such as “Knocked Up” and “Funny People,” but even nearly 20 years later, it remains his best work.

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is currently streaming on Hulu.

“Enough Said” (2013)

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced mother with a teenage daughter. One night, she attends a party and separately meets two people: Marianne (Catherine Keener) and Albert (James Gandolfini). Albert takes an interest in Eva and later asks her out. Meanwhile, she becomes Marianne’s massage therapist and the two quickly become good friends.

Things take a turn, though, as it occurs to Eva that her new best friend’s ex-husband, who she constantly complains about, is actually Albert, the new man she’s been dating. Instead of coming clean about the mutual connection, Eva stays silent and struggles with seeing Albert in a new light after hearing Marianne’s constant criticisms of him.

This is a minor, low-key romantic comedy with a great cast directed by Nicole Holofcener and an unusual dynamic between the leads. 

This was one of “Sopranos” star Gandolfini’s final roles before he died in 2013, a few months before the film was released. Though this adds a somber note to the film, I think it’s nice to see him go out with such a different role after he had been cast as a mobster for decades. His character, Albert, is the antithesis of Tony Soprano. Gandolfini really shows his range in this film.

Louis-Dreyfus’s performance is noteworthy as she was someone who was also mostly known for TV roles. She gives an authentic and genuine performance in “Enough Said,” making the film feel much more grounded in reality than your average rom-com.

“Enough Said” is available to stream on Hulu.