A week ago I was on my flight to cold Tokyo from rainy Singapore.
I used to love rainy days in Singapore, a welcomed break from the tropical heat. I always thought that the cold weather makes a more conducive environment for writing, creativity and introspection. There is just something romantic about the cold weather. While Spring and Summer makes me feel a rush, a need to keep moving, an impatience…. the cold brings the holiday season, a time of rest, a time to take stock. A season to carve time out especially for loved ones and for the self. A season when the world is supposed to be in a better mood, and kinder, hence an all round gentler existence.
On my flight back, instead of going through the new films I found myself drawn to my fave film of all time, Moulin Rouge. Yes people sometimes follow up the “oh you are an actor” conversation with “so what’s your favorite movie?” … Moulin Rouge always has been the first, red, passionate image to pop into my head. Sometimes people laugh, surprised as if expecting something else. But the brilliance of Moulin Rouge.. (I did critical writing as part of my film classes through university, and enjoyed every minute of it. In my memory, my papers for Moulin Rouge and Lost Highway stood out the most.) impressed upon me something that I could go on and on about.
I realized I have not watched this film in probably more than 5 years. I still discover new details watching it, Im still sucked deeply into the opulence, the detail, the unabashed passion and unapologetic campy performances. The actors believed it and so did I. It still makes me laugh and cry and want to burst in song. Phew. I am supposed to spend the next few weeks re-writing the romance and passion in my manuscript. A whole different angle of inspiration hit me on the plane ride. I had fresh new ideas for my Circus project. Baz Luhrmann is one of my favorite directors. Now if I could just reach out…
So in the spirit of the holidays and romance, I started a n incomplete list of my fave romantic movies to date. Most of them are older films… I havent watched any good romantic movies in awhile. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments!
1) Moulin Rouge
Tagline : The Greatest Thing, You’ll Ever Learn is Just to Love and be Loved in Return.
Loved everything about it, the premise, unabashedly romantic, a young writer leaves London for the bohemian underworld in Paris during the Summer of Love. He finds like minded artists believing in Freedom Beauty Truth and Love, and above all found love in Satine the most beautiful courtesan. Ewan McGregor’s purity as the hopelessly in love young storyteller appeals to any romantic, and the effect of love on Satine, who resists then fights for love too was breathtakingly performed by Nicole Kidman. The other characters of the moulin rouge are colorful and heartbreaking, entertaining and deep at the same time. Everything about this was spectacular.
I had this poster in my dorm room. Wonder where it went.
2) The Notebook
Tagline : Behind Every Great Love is a Great Story
This one follows the lovers from their youth to their old age, a lasting love. The many types of romance spanning from young love courtship to mid adulthood practical physical love to the companionship, loyalty and love of an old man. The way it was told and performed has it ranked #2 for me!
3) The Bridges of Madison County
A classic, and before I get stoned for ranking this 3rd, lets all remember this is a list based on my personal memory and reactions to the films! But this is prove that a simple story, great directing, great acting and without any fancy gimmicks and effects, some of the most powerful stories can be told. A complex love story simply told. For me the crux of every love story lies in 1 word – purity. An average person having a whole life changed forever and continuing under the guise of an average life.
4) Imagine Me and You
Tagline : The Path to True Love Isn’t Always Straight
Said to be the best British romantic comedy since Notting Hill. I actually dont remember Notting Hill.
I do remember the scene from Imagine Me & You when the girls part in the park. Lena Headey’s character says “Don’t forget me.” And Piper Perabo’s character replies “I will remember nothing else.” Props to a love story for just being a love story, despite of course that the lovers are both of the same sex, and for making all 3 in the love triangle characters to root for. Matthew Goode with his puppy dog eyes was such the forlorn good husband losing his beautiful wife to another equally lovely woman. His choosing her happiness, her choosing her happiness when that same ‘Her’ basically could not choose anything really for the moment. I feel like this love triangle story told an honest tale of 3 essentially good people who happen to find themselves in one of love’s tricky situation. Sometimes it happens. To good people. The relationship between Rachel and Luce was sweet and tender, but as was that between Heck and Rachel. Now what? Brilliant lines and well told story despite the quick progression to the Hollywood ending.
“The lily means I dare you to love me.”
Watching their cheeky post show interviews one realizes the chemistry and friendship between the actresses is solid. I think Lena played the bitter sweet subtly perfectly, making the joys and pains of this love story feel real instead of like a fairytale.
5) Tempting Heart
Tagline : It’s the Love We’ve Lost That Haunts UsMaybe I am just biased because Takeshi Kaneshiro is dreamy and just plays these lovelorn characters in a way that tugs at the heartstrings. The premise of the film, I felt was better than the actual film. Most parts were satisfying but something was missing. It is on my list though because it is also an autobiography of the director, an actress my parents used to watch, Sylvia Chang, and whom I grew to respect and had the pleasure of meeting at the Taipei film festival. My interaction with the film felt like this was the director telling us something, her lost love story, but not everything even if we wanted more. I havent watched it in awhile though and I must admit it is the one film on this list I dont feel an immediate need to rewatch.
Yeps. I need to go watch some films and re-think no 5.
This should be a top 10 list instead of a top 5 list, but I am having difficulty coming up with films. The top 4 stand out to me. All other romantic films that come to mind do not stand out like that. I shall fish for suggestions and recommendations next week!