Stranger love

Back in 2001, RN&R film critic Bob Grimm recommended his favorite sick and bitter romance movies. Now, nine years and many failed romances later, he’s even sicker and more bitter.

John Cusack used to be a dream date. Now, he eats dog food.

John Cusack used to be a dream date. Now, he eats dog food.

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day for you to look at your honey and proclaim, “I bought you something, so don’t yell at me and give me any of your bullshit!” Or, if you are without a special someone, a day for you to hide at home feeling like a total dickweed while everybody else goes through their annual rituals of waiting far too long for a table at restaurants and spending copious amounts of cash on fermented grape juice.

Yes, it’s time for a sequel to my Feb. 8, 2001 story “Strange love,” giving you a helpful list of the perfect films to watch for Valentine’s Day. These aren’t the obvious, epic “I wuv you!” movies. Oh no, this list is designed to make you feel all discombobulated, violated and, yes, strange.

No one said love was easy. I’ll just say love is either a sweetheart angel touching your heart and naughty bits, or Satan addressing those same areas with fire and humiliation.

So fire up your DVD or Blu-ray player, grab a handful out of the following list, and make this Valentine’s Day a confusing, frightening, harrowing experience. Or simply forget to send your special someone flowers and candy, then watch the apocalypse occur right in your very own living room. Either or.

Requiem for a Dream: Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly share the greatest love of all, along with their monstrous, devastating heroin addictions. They make goo-goo eyes at each other, and their union coupled with massive drug use eventually results in Leto’s arm rotting off and, well, I won’t write in major detail about what happens to Connelly. I’ll just say it involves a dildo and an audience, and I’ll just leave things there.

Bob Grimm’s heart explodes.

Bonnie and Clyde: See Bonnie and Clyde partake in one of crime history’s most notorious romances. Then see Bonnie and Clyde take lots of bullets. Seriously, they get shot more than Willem Dafoe in Platoon and Al Pacino in Scarface combined.

The Hurt Locker: OK, watch this one pretending that Jeremy Renner not only loves dismantling bombs, but also actually loves the bombs he’s dismantling. It makes the viewing experience quite touching. It also makes a lot of sense, because, as in real life, love is a very intricate, dangerous process. If you make the wrong move with your lover, the whole thing might blow up and shred your face with no remorse.

King Kong (1933 and 1976): You might think I’m pushing you in this direction for that whole “Beauty and the Beast” thing, but no. I insist you watch this for the infamous “smell my finger” scene in the original when Kong undresses Fay Wray. The ’76 remake is choice for the horny face Kong makes while doing the same thing to Jessica Lange. You must see the horny face man-in-suit Rick Baker makes in the remake. It’s classic.

My Own Private Idaho: Mike the narcoleptic (River Phoenix) falls in love with rich pretty boy Scott (Keanu Reeves). Less notable for the romance than for the sight of Phoenix falling asleep in the street all of the time.

David Lynch double feature: Start with Mulholland Drive, where a starstruck actress (Naomi Watts) falls in love with an amnesiac actress and tries valiantly to help her sweetie regain her identity. At least that’s how things look in the dreamworld portion of this film. The reality portion involves hitmen, car crashes, infidelity and perhaps the most violent masturbation scene put to screen since Linda Blair went to the bad place with that cross.

Chase Mulholland Drive with Wild at Heart, where Lynch equates true love with car crashes, motorcycle accidents, Willem Dafoe’s nasty fake teeth, and Nicolas Cage’s smashed nose. David Lynch: a true romantic.

Puppet love! <i>Team America: World Police</i>.

The Passion of the Christ: I mentioned The Last Temptation of the Christ in the first installment of Strange Love, mainly because Jesus got it on with an infamous hooker in that one. It was basically Jesus’ big moment as a romantic leading man. (Although he would later be portrayed as quite the Casanova in David Wain’s The Ten.)

Well, cinematically, things have gotten a lot more brutal and bloody for the J-Man since Temptation. In this lovely film from Mel Gibson, possibly one of the most deranged assholes to ever commandeer a film, Jesus gets mulched. His love for humanity and his daddy is returned in the form of a cat o’ nine tails that rips the meat off his body—and that was just the foreplay!

So, essentially, Jesus gets his ass whupped in the name of love, which he created, because Jesus is God. So Jesus created the very thing that wound up getting him in a whole lot of trouble. Wait a minute, if he set that whole thing in motion, knowing eventually how things would turn out, wouldn’t that make him the ultimate masochist?

You know what, this one’s too perplexing for Valentine’s Day. Save it for Easter.

Werner Herzog with one of Bob Grimm’s ex-girlfriends.

The “Mel Gibson is a Total Dick!” triple feature: Watch Forever Young, Bird on a Wire and What Women Want while continuously repeating this mantra in your head: “Mel Gibson is a total dick.” He appears to be such a sweet guy in these films but, seriously, the man is a total dick. After many hours repeating those six words to yourself while watching him romance the likes of Goldie Hawn, Jamie Lee Curtis and Helen Hunt, perhaps you will be cured of any lasting respect for the man.

Team America: World Police: Contains some hot puppet sex scenes. If you get the unrated version, those hot puppet sex scenes go a couple of steps further.

Raising Arizona: On Valentine’s Day, let us not forget a mother’s love for her baby boy. When Holly Hunter cries “I love him so much!” while grasping her infant in the front seat of a car, a mom’s unbridled affection for her child is displayed in an indisputable manner. Yes, the child was somebody she just kidnapped, but that’s besides the point.


The Princess Bride: A wonderful and enchanting film where true love prevails, and Andre the Giant says “Anybody want a peanut?” Oh, come on, there has to be at least one sweet movie in here. I’m not a totally heartless bastard.

The “John Cusack Romantic Comedies Kind of Suck Now” double feature: Cusack used to reign supreme with the romantic comedies, but not any more. To see how far our man has fallen, watch him struggle through the awful Must Love Dogs and the mediocre America’s Sweethearts. When you are done with those, watch him in 2012. It has no significance when it comes to Valentine’s Day, but the scene where he runs away from the erupting volcano is really cool.

Grizzly Man: Seriously, I think this Werner Herzog documentary is suitable for any holiday or occasion. A dude goes out into the wilderness because he loves big bears. And how do the grizzlies return this love? By tearing his face off and eating him, which is pretty much how my last two or three relationships have gone.