With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, now is a good time to stock up on movies to watch with your significant other.
You can always go for the tried-and-true classics like “Casablanca,” “The Way We Were,” “Sleepless In Seattle” or “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” But, this year, why not check out a slew of titles which recently arrived on various streaming platforms as well Blu-ray or DVD.
Read on for our picks for Valentine’s Day viewing.
BABY BABY BABY (2016, Sony, R, $20): Written and directed by Philly’s Brian Klugman, this gem of a romantic comedy chronicles the bond between struggling actor Sydney (Klugman) and aspiring artist Sunny (Adrianne Palicki) after they attempt to take their relationship to the next level by moving in together. They’re happy at first but, little by little, Sydney’s insecurities get the better of him and he begins freaking out at every man who looks Sunny’s way. Unlike a lot of rom coms, “Baby Baby Baby” tries to understand everyone’s point of view. Heck, even Sydney’s ex-girlfriend (Michaela Conlin) gets a nice moment or two. Smartly written and well-acted – watch for a cameo by Klugman’s Philly buddy Bradley Cooper - “Baby Baby Baby” is very sweetly told.
***TWO FOR THE ROAD (1964, Twilight Time, unrated, $30): Albert Finney, Audrey Hepburn, a Henry Mancini score and a series of gorgeous European locations shot by famed cinematographer Christopher Challis? It’s a combination that makes for a sparkling drama about a marriage under siege. Bickering couple Hepburn and Finney take a road trip to try and work things out. In the process, they flashback to other vacations, including the one where they first met and fell in love. The new-to-Blu-ray “Two For The Road” might cover familiar ground but it bristles with charged emotion. You can’t take your eyes off of it.
***LOVING (2016, Universal, PG-13, $30): There’s not a false moment in Jeff Nichols’ look at the true story of Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), an interracial couple who wed in Washington, D.C. in 1958 only to discover that their marriage was illegal in their home state of Virginia. Thanks to the ACLU, they wound up taking their fight all the way to the Supreme Court. “Loving” is a bit too retrained and respectful for its own good but, more often than not, the slow-burn approach pays off. Both actors are masters of subtlety who only need a few gestures of warmth and affection to convey the Lovings’ tight bond.
***GOODBYE GIRL (1977, Warner Archive, PG, $20): Now on Blu-ray, this winning romance begins when retired dancer Paula (Marsha Mason) is dumped by her no-good actor-boyfriend who sublets their apartment out from under her to an actor pal named Elliot (Richard Dreyfuss, in his Oscar-winning role). Paula and Elliot agree to make the best of a bad situation and become roomies. Of course, the pair, urged on by Paula’s wised-up daughter (Quinn Cummings), fall in love. The beauty of “Goodbye Girl” is that scripter Neil Simon allows the characters to become friends before they jump in the sack. It also helps that Simon stocks the screenplay with delicious zingers and the actors manage to make those laugh lines feel wonderfully spontaneous.
***BLUSH (2016, Film Movement, unrated, $25): Growing up in a sleepy suburb on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, the teenaged Naama (Sivan Noam Shimon) is lonely and bored. Barely acknowledged by her bickering parents who are preoccupied with her older, wilder sister, Naama undergoes a big change when she falls in love with the new girl (Jade Sakori) at school. While “Blush” shares some of the same DNA as many coming out/coming of age dramas, it still manages to feel fresh and vital. The unique setting and the rawness of the performances by Shimon and Sakori allow this small movie to shine. There’s magic in it.
***GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER: 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1967, Sony, G, $20): Spencer Tracy (in his final film role) and Katharine Hepburn play San Francisco liberals who surprise themselves by resisting their daughter’s (Hepburn’s real-life niece Katharine Houghton) marriage to an African-American physician (Sidney Poitier). In addition to raising some still-relevant questions about race, “Guess Who” delivers the joy of watching fine actors add complexity to their roles. Best of all, “Guess” is a tribute to Tracy and Hepburn, whose affection for each other seems to flow from every frame.
***DIRTY DANCING: 30th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION (1987, Lionsgate, PG-13, $15): After three decades, the time is right to revisit this coming-of-age musical about a vacationing 17-year-old named Baby (Jennifer Grey) who has the time of her life with a sexy Catskills hotel dance instructor (Patrick Swayze). The sweet heartbreak of the summer romance, the charm of the second bananas (Jerry Orbach, Jack Weston, Kelly Bishop) and the energetic mambo sequences help make “Dirty Dancing” an enduring delight
***YOU’LL NEVER GET RICH (1941, Twilight Time, unrated, $30): Fred Astaire once named Rita Hayworth his favorite dance partner and, on the basis of their lively routines from this new-to-Blu romance, it’s easy to see why. Astaire and Hayworth mesh beautifully both on and off the dance floor as they tap, trade zingers and trill Cole Porter tunes. The plot, which involves Astaire leaving his job as a choreographer to join the Army, is silly even by musical comedy standards. Still, all is forgiven when Rita puts a wolfish producer (Robert Benchley) in his place and Fred taps it out to a “Since I Kissed My Baby Goodbye.”
***THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (2016, Disney, PG-13, $30): A lot happens in this gorgeously shot drama, which was produced by Pottstown’s Jeffrey Clifford. But, at the heart of the action, is the love story between a cautious lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender ) and his effervescent wife (Alicia Vikander). The early scenes, which depict the pair falling in love, are particularly lovely thanks to the explosive chemistry between the actors (who became a real-life couple making the movie). After finding out they can’t have children, the duo make the ill-fated decision to adopt a baby girl after she, literally, washes ashore. Get out your handkerchiefs because this wrenching romance has the power to wipe the floor with you.
***IN OUR TIME (1944, Warner Archive, unrated, $20): Released in the midst of World War II, this romantic drama might have been conceived as anti-Nazi propaganda but it still manages to sweep you away in a tidal wave of emotion. Ida Lupino is superb as an introverted antiques buyer who falls in love with a Polish aristocrat (Paul Heinreid). Soon, Lupino and Heinreid are modernizing his farming business and preparing to battle the Nazi invaders. Yes, there are a few too many speeches about making the world safe from Fascists but the romance between opposites hits home in every particular.