I was inspired by several lists of “A-Z Movies for Valentine’s Day that I decided to make my own. However, these are not your top Rom-Coms. These movies are the ones that make you lose all hope in romance…and maybe in humanity itself.
So come stare into the abyss as it stares back at you and enjoy your A-Z Movies for Valentine’s Day!!!
A Atonement What happens when you find your crush having sex with your sister and then you frame him for sexually assaulting your best friend resulting in him being sent to prison and then to war? You get vascular dementia and try and justify your actions by rewriting the narrative.
B Barton Fink Waking up next to a disemboweled woman only got better with John Goodman interrupting every waking moment of you trying to write a screenplay. Is it getting warm in here, or is that just the erotic tension of the wrestling scene? And what does that dripping wallpaper glue mean?
C A Clockwork Orange My mom actually walked out on this movie when it was first in theaters, and I wouldn’t blame her! Ultraviolence, the old “in-out, in-out,” Ludwig Van, and tits for days! This movie is not for any eunuch jelly thou’s.
D The Deer Hunter It is amazing how the evil and suffering of the Vietnam War captured the imagination of screenwriters and directors for years to come. The Russian Roulette sequence marks the climax of the film, a scene hauntingly burned into the cinematic psyche of Vietnam era productions.
E The Elephant Man “I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I … am … a … man!” This is a perfect movie to cuddle up with your honey, lie back in bed, and suffocate to death from the weight of your head asphyxiating you.
F Female Trouble If one were to pick a John Waters film for this list, one would assume it would be Pink Flamingos. To do so, however, would be real melvin. Eating dog shit aside, I think Female Trouble may be the most debauched of Waters’ films. In this movie, “crime and beauty are the same,” and the depravity reaches a level of divinity through the apotheosis of Divine as Dawn Davenport on the electric chair.
G The Graduate You may say the movie ends well with Dustin Hoffman and his girl getting together, but there are two things wrong with this. First, this only happened because of statutory rape. Second, does the movie really end well? What’s that whole “Sound of Silence” on the bus about then? They’re doomed.
H The Hours Your feel-good lesbian romance with all of the hopelessness of Virginia Woolf’s depressing spectre permeating throughout all of women’s history. Perhaps my favorite soundtrack of all time (by the eternal Phillip Glass), I listen to it ad nauseum on my best days and my worst days.
I Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Movies in the 70s and 80s followed an Altmannian formula where minutia dialogue drove much of the film. In concert with this mundanity, no one wins in this remake. Best part of the film is this screenshot of Donald Sutherland shrieking.
J Jackie Brown This may actually be my favorite Quentin Tarantino movie. The romance between Pam Grier and Robert Forster might be one of the most human romances ever in that it is unresolved. Still, in the end Jackie is a free woman; but free from what? Free from Ordell, yes. But is free from the stereotypical life of the blaxsploitated woman she represents? Perhaps not.
K Kiss of the Spider Woman Your feel-good homosexual romance with all of the hopelessness of the corrupt Brazilian military prison system. Stellar performances by Raul Julia and William Hurt make you wish you were either a leftist revolutionary or a sex offender just to share a cell with these two. Woof!
L The Land Before Time Watching this movie at such a young age messed me up for the rest of my life. Like so many, I had to wrestle through the complex of knowing that my mother could die at any moment and I would be left alone to wander the post-Cambrian wilderness. Hug your moms extra tight today.
M Mad Men Seasons 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 Ok, I’m breaking the rule here, but the problem with movies like Mulholland Drive or Memento or Melancholia or Magnolia is that they can only cram so much hopelessness into 120+ minutes. Mad Men did it innumerably, capturing the misogyny and heteronormative insecurity our grandparents lived with and our parents inevitably inherited.
N No Country for Old Men A Western turned inside out and upside down. The failure of the ‘Old Man’ (represented by Tommy Lee Jones playing Sheriff Ed Tom Bell) to enact justice in the American wilderness stabs deeply into the manifest heart of destiny like a captive bolt pistol.
O One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest The work that may very well have birthed the psychiatric survivor’s moment; one is constantly reminded of the psychic slavery in this institution. The subversive sexuality of Jack Nicholson is pitted against the sadistic sexuality of Nurse Ratched. As though this is a fight between lovers much akin to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (runner up for ‘W’), the psychosexual tension of this psychiatric ward erupts with the mental castration of its protagonist.
P Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire Ugh, can I take a pass on writing a synopsis? Physical, mental, sexual abuse, incest, rape…ugh. The worst part about this is that unlike other films on this list, Precious’ story is but another day in the life of many who suffer the iniquities of inequity within our system of white supremacy.
Q The Queen After watching this biopic of Queen Elizabeth (played brilliantly by bombshell Helen Mirren) and her reactions to the death of Princess Diana, you’ll ask yourself “why do we care about this again?” The answer is simple: we the pestilent peons are forever fascinated by the aristocracy we have been conditionally tempted into believing we deserve.
R Requiem for a Dream Everyone loses in this hopeless portrait of drug addiction. Vignettes of each character’s path towards destruction culminate in a brilliant finale that will leave you wishing you never saw the film. Still, you’ll keep coming back to it because, like drugs, you can’t shake it.
S Sophie’s Choice I’m going to get this right out of the way: I hate this movie, and it’s not because of the eponymous choice that our protagonist is forced to make. It’s the bullshit romancing. And darling of the 80s Peter MacNicol stars. Who gives a hoot about Peter MacNicol? Also, why does Meryl Streep have to get Best Actress for all of her crappy movies? Ugh, if you want to get upset, watch this movie.
T Any Terrance Malick Film Badlands? Days of Heaven? The Thin Red Line? The New World? The Tree of Life? Need I say anymore? Ugh, I’m feeling insignificant just thinking about it…
U Der Untergang Ooh! A foreign language film? Hitler’s last 10 days in his bunker? Tale as old as time.
V La vie en rose Another foreign language film! The tragic and the pathetic are pitted against each other in this biopic of French singer Edith Piaf. This may be too Valentines’y of a movie for this list, but if you do watch it, try to deconstruct the figure of La Môme from her apogee of romantic idealism to her utter insignificance as a mundane existent. Trust me, it is fun.
W We Need to Talk About Kevin Valentine’s Day is for all relationships, and which is more important than that of mother and son? Especially so in this movie, with the painfully emotionally unavailable Tilda Swinton attempting to connect with evil-incarnate Ezra Miller, all while John C Reilly obliviously attempts to parent around them. A wrecking ball sort of a movie. Hug your moms extra tight today.
X American History X Just because there are so few movies beginning with X and so few movies with a curb-stomping scene. That’s all.
Y The Yearling It’s like We Need to Talk About Kevin, but with a baby deer.
Z Zero Dark Thirty Your Valentine’s Day will be a “Mission Accomplished” with this flick.