Following the footsteps of the very popular HBO’s top ten categories, let me first point out the movies that don’t make it to even the bottom ten (I hope to have ten by the end of this article). I just watched The Holiday starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. And I regret it. The movie was just plain stupid. But as both actors are a real waste as well, I thought that the movie and the cast actually complement each other. Keep off this one.
Also keep off Sweet November. It tries to evoke all kinds of emotions and sentiments and Keanu Reeves acting as lover somehow doesn’t fit a romantic picture. It is flawed from its very first frame. The storyline (if it can be called one) strangles every sense you possess. Similarly, City of Angels is such a shame as it pulls down to dirt one of Hollywood’s best, Meg Ryan. A Walk to Remember and Garden State is way too overrated. And I thought Natalie Portman is a must watch, but Garden State is a slap in the face.
I find more romance in Mr Bean’s collection than in Sweet Home Alabama, The Heartbreak Kid and The Graduate. The one reason why I can’t stand these movies is the way they insult our intelligence by trying to sell us something so gullible. For these kinds of movies, we should seriously consider creating a new kind of genre. Till then, stay away from these ‘movies’.
Now, the top ten. The greatest romantic movie ever made is Baran by Majid Majidi. My words, however wonderfully crafted, would only do injustice to the beauty of this movie. Words cannot even begin to reflect an essence of this subtle masterpiece. There is music and melody, there is tragedy and comedy, there is poem and tears, there is chaos and silence, there is pain and healing, there is love and above all there is the realization of our helplessness when it comes to love. There is the realization of the truth that love is not all. Despite the tons of symbolism and inner meanings within the movie there is not even a shade of cosmetic visible. Watching this movie makes us feel how bland all the other movies were. But this is one masterpiece that will not receive its recognition in any near future due to the political quagmire about Iran. And we thought art transcends all political borders!
Next in line is When Harry Met Sally by Rob Reiner. This film explores the theme of whether men and women can ever be friends. From one scene to another we are lead from witty dialogues to shocking comic relief to absolute outrage. This movie is one that has been ripped off and remade in every other language. But the magic between Ryan and Crystal is so pristine and flawless that its rip-offs don’t even come close. I have heard that there were movies with similar themes in the 1970s, but they are rare to get nowadays.
A Scene at the Sea by Takeshi Kitano is so silent that the dialogues of the entire movie can be fit in half a page. A story of a young, hearing-impaired and gloomy couple enshrined by the waves at the sea. Despite the poetic silence the movie is so compelling and out of the box that by the end of the 100 minutes we realize the new dimension of deafness. A dimension the hearing fails to appreciate. The love between the couple is not something they search for, but something we the audience thrust upon them. To them, love was not enough.
Bill Murray in Groundhog Day plays a weatherman who has to live just one day over and over. This movie is half romance and half comedy but the novelty of its theme and the way it injects its message makes it the fourth best romantic movie. Although there are a couple of flaws in the movie like Andie’s acting, Bills performance and the sympathy he draws totally makes up for it. This movie is a once in a lifetime classic and a must watch.
Ki-duk Kim’s The Bow will hit you hard whether you are romantic or not. An old man has ‘imprisoned’ a small girl and will marry her when she is 17. But everything changes when a teenager comes into their world. But what happens next is what makes Ki-duk Kim stand apart. This is one director who is not afraid to explore and will not be sidelined by taboos. The whole movie takes place in the middle of the sea and this setting gives the movie an immense freshness.
Notting Hill and Annie Hall are next in line. While the former is colorful, visually captivating and the usual enchanted fairy tale acted out brilliantly by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, the latter have Woody Allen and Diane Keaton at their best. Annie Hall is more of the love, breakup and love routine and yet captures our attention throughout only as Allen can. Throughout the movie there are innumerable innovations like when he addresses the viewer directly by pausing the movie. Notting Hill has brilliant original score and is a movie about a girl, standing in front of a boy, wanting to be loved.
The tag line of Lost In Translation is “Everyone wants to be found”. And this is the summary of the movie. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson perform brilliantly in unblemished script that will draw each viewer into a space where to get lost is the only relief. See this movie for all its worth as this is one love story where love takes precedence over the story.
The next greatest romantic movies is again from Iran, The Hidden Half , by Tahmineh Milani. The intensity of the movie is only exemplified by the fact that the director was imprisoned for its honesty. Here, love is married to revolution and the feelings that one usually associate with guilt and betrayal is actually what liberates the protagonist and her love for her husband and family.
I finish the list with The Painted Veil starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. When a husband punishes his wife for betrayal, there begins a journey to discover the distance between a married couple where one has taken all for granted. But love cannot be defiled by sex or lust. It prevails and drowns even cholera in china.
When love is in the air and music in the soul…there is…………………
Raji A Rauof
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