Tongue-in-cheek suggestions for Valentine viewing, offered with potential after-viewing coping remedies, from an article in ECLIPSE, with editing and additions. Seems appropriate, as we have Venus and Mars together in Capricorn (looking at the nitty-gritty of relationships, wanting to know the limits, the boundaries, and to feel secure), the Moon in Cancer stepping hard on our feelings as of this writing, and Luna opposing Pluto and a 29 degree Mercury, suggesting we’re desperate to get our heads straight about how we feel. It may seem we’re both required to celebrate relationships and given no way to express any feelings that aren’t 100% positive–and that’s not healthy. I think it helps to inspect others’ relationships, and movies let us do just that–here are some of my favorites. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Blue Valentine (2010) Saturn, in the person of Ryan Gosling, is happy with his life–he goes to work, is a husband and father, and has no aspirations, wanting only to continue the status quo; Venus, played by Michelle Williams, is into pleasure, but also a bit of a seeker, in worldly terms, and what ultimately leads to the painful disintegration of their marriage is the way in which he fails to suffer from the same gnawing discontent she does. At one point they go away to a theme motel; their choices are ‘Cupid’s Cove’ or the ‘Future Room’–I can’t help but think things would’ve gone better if they’d opted out of spending time in the cold, tinny blue light that exposed the future they would never have. Watch something like The Proposal (2009), to revive your faith in relationships, ’cause Ryan Reynolds can fix anything, or get outside in the sunshine or use your SAD light. And maybe some cookies.
Stealing Heaven (1988) It’s been years since I saw this movie, but it’s a hard core love story–who else but those irrevocably drawn together would defy the system (one where an academic was expected to be celibate, and where females weren’t supposed to be educated) and end up beaten, bruised, and in a nunnery? The movie details the story of real-life Medieval lovers Héloïse and Abélard, as they struggle with questions and conventions of the day, including whether it’s more noble to serve God with chastity, or to celebrate God with earthly pleasures (Jupiter wants it all, doesn’t he?) Two aspirin, washed down with a martini in celebration of the fact that human castration isn’t part of the college curriculum nowadays.
The Wings of the Dove (1997) A true love triangle where no one gets what they want. We see a pair of lovers (Helena Bonham Carter and Linus Roache) who are stymied by a mutual lack of money in their desire to be together and yet not incur the wrath of her well-to-do aunt (the icy Charlotte Rampling). Enter “the wealthiest orphan in the world” (Alison Elliot) who immediately befriends the pair and persuades them to come to Venice–and a plan, misshapen and virtually unspoken until late in the game, materializes, since the orphan *cough* *cough* is on her way out. Staged with some of the most sumptuous Nouveau costuming I’ve ever seen, and then there’s Venice–what more could you want? Only 1 glass of wine, lingered over while gazing sadly at the sunset. With a special thought given for all those for whom love (Venus) is, one way or another, spoiled by the subject of money (Venus). From the novel by Henry James.
The House of Mirth (2000) Ladies! There comes a point when pride must go by the wayside, and we must settle–but that couldn’t be what Edith Wharton meant, could it? The story of Lily Bart is one that emphasizes how important it is to understand the social milieu in which you move and, most especially, your place in it. Lily doesn’t; one seemingly small disaster after another ensues, creating a slow motion fiasco. Jupiter, then, in the form of society, is the villain here. Lily, sure she’s a never-fading Venus, shows in her own soft way many of the goddess’s worst qualities, incarnate. With Gillian Anderson excellent in the title role. What would Lily do, in the present day? With any luck, she might not take herself so seriously. This story is a lesson in not seeing one’s physical Beingness as a commodity, given in exchange for the social position and monetary sustenance we think we deserve–invariably, we’ll get the measure wrong. With a suggestion to sort one’s Love inclinations from one’s material needs, for our own safety. Three Motrin, two glasses of wine, and a search on Facebook for old boyfriends
Melancholia (2011) Much of the movie centers on a wedding, and it’s difficult to understand why the bride (Kirsten Dunst) is so on-again, off-again in her attitude–until the bigger picture comes into focus. Relationship dynamics are all-consuming for the short-sighted and the blithely ignorant, and the viewer comes to see that the bride’s melancholy springs from her canary-in-the-coal-mine sensibilities: she knows what’s coming, even as she doesn’t know what’s coming, and acts accordingly. Sumptuously shot, with some amazing sequences, from the ever-upsetting Lars Von Trier. If you’d like to see more of his takes on relationships, may I recommend the harrowing AntiChrist, and the thoroughly dispiriting Breaking the Waves, or the amazing Midsommar (2019) by another upbeat guy, Ari Aster. Post-viewing for any of these movies: sort through your affairs, get right with your God, and then take a long nap.
The Heat (2013) Not a romance but a babemance, and an example of how even women who are nothing alike will have more in common with each other than with any man, if they can only see it. An argument for being Self-possessed and supportive, even as you refuse to wait for a sense of completion through a romantic partner. You’re all right just as you are, ladies (and gents). Recommended: Girls’ Night Out, or order a pizza, to share or just for you, or do whatever you want–it’s your life.
John Spirko said:
I’m currently reading another prohibition book, “Only Yesterday; An Informal History of the 1920s,” 1931, by Frederick Lewis Allen. Allen quotes Will H. Hayes (President Harding’s Postmaster-General) about films (and books, magazines): “The industry must have toward that sacred thing, the mind of a child, toward that clean virgin thing, that unmarked slate, the same responsibility, the same care about the impressions made upon it, that the best cleargyman or the most inspired teacher of youth would have.”
Allen goes on to say: “Each of these diverse influences–the post-war disillusion, the new status of women, the Freudian gospel, the automobile, prohibition, the sex and confession magazines, and the movies–had its part in bringing about the revolution. Each of them as an influence, was played upon by all the others, none of them could alone have changed to any great degree the folkways of America; together their force was irresistible.