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Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

February 12, 2018

Arts To-Do List for Valentine’s Day

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For Happy Couples

Movies:

La La Land — Damien Chazelle

Start with a cliche, heartwarming love story and you have a good movie. Throw in a soundtrack that’s impossible not to dance along to, Ryan Gosling’s beautiful bone structure and an ending that renders me incapable of movement every time I rewatch it and you have a V-Day must-see.

The Proposal — Anne Fletcher

If you’re looking for that perfect “wanna come over and watch a movie or something” film, look no further. The Proposal combines raunchy comedy with a story of unexpected love to create fun for the whole family. But be warned — your significant other will ask, “why don’t you look as good as Ryan Reynolds/Sandra Bullock naked?”

– Pete Buonanno ’20

The Philadelphia Story – George Cukor

A witty script and great comedic timing from the cast make this 1940 film a classic. Katherine Hepburn plays Tracy Samantha Lord, a wealthy woman getting married to George Kittredge. A reporter is sent to cover the wedding and is aided by Tracy’s ex-husband. What follows is a hilarious love quadrangle that ends with everyone learning to accept each other’s flaws.

– Ashley Davila ’19

Call Me by Your Name — Luca Guadagnino

I’m not crying, you’re crying. Actually we’re both crying. The whole world is crying because Call Me by Your Name just inflated our stupid, romantic hearts just to rip them out and beat them like a, uh, used peach. Wistful, angst-ridden Elio transcribes music on lazy summer days. Chiseled, chummy Oliver dances like a doofus to Psychedelic Furs. The movie is a harrowingly evocative ode to young romance, and in the end will have you weeping like Elio by the fireplace.

– Shay Collins ’18

 

Songs:

“Lovesong”  — The Cure

Intended by Robert Smith as a wedding gift for his wife, the lyrics are simple and honest. However, Smith’s voice, always close to tears,  manages to pull the song from the brink of mushy-gushy pop saccharinity and lend it a haunting, obsessive quality. It’s a versatile song: dance to it, play it for your true love or wallow in unrequited longing.

– Ramya Yandava ’21

“Magic” — Coldplay

“Magic” is about being with someone for a long time without losing any spark. The line “Call it magic, cut me into two” extends that comparison to include more than the usual rose-colored relationship we often hear in music. There are ups and downs when it comes to love, and Coldplay knows.

-Viri Garcia ’20

“Let’s Stay Together” — Al Green

“Let’s Stay Together” speaks to relationships outlasting difficulties and turning to one’s partner always, while including a catchy backtrack filled with rhythmic drums and soulful guitar riffs. The Obamas danced to this song at the 2013 Inaugural ball, further solidifying its legendary status.

– Ashley Davila ’19

“You and I” — Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder’s ability to convey raw emotion is both unique and potent. In this four and a half minute piano ballad, Wonder serenades his love in an almost theatrical manner; sounding more like a musical than a song from Talking Book. Throw this on and snuggle up with your significant other, or your self (we understand the single life).

– Pete Buonanno ’20

“Thank You” — Led Zeppelin

This ballad is more subdued than many of Led Zeppelin’s other hits. It features Robert Plant’s voice with light instrumentals that pick up with a more drum and guitar centered chorus. The beautiful lyrics play into a melodramatic take on love with classic lines such as “If the sun refused to shine/ I would still be loving you.”

– Ashley Davila ’19

“Sappho” — Frankie Cosmos

“Sappho,” named after the Greek poet of the island of Lesbos, is a fun and curious love song. It’s all about that exciting, nerve-wracking time in which a girl asks herself whether her same-gendered crush is straight, hoping the answer is no. The simple and sweet melody, along with the walking bass nested perfectly inside, convey the nervous but anticipating nature of the song. The lyrics “is that Sappho you’re reading?” bring the theme together: The more questions are asked, the more a quiet love builds up.

– Viri Garcia ’20

 

Books:

“Heart Museum” — Durga Chew-Bose

In “Heart Museum,” featured in the collection Too Much and Not the Mood, essayist Durga Chew-Bose ponders love, and the physical hearts that supposedly manifest it. Chew-Bose writes of a love that she directs not at other people, but rather at fleeting moments with friends, Paul’s Boutique, emojis, manatees and a plethora of books and films. In flashes of humor and anxiety, Chew-Bose sees love where others might see mundanity. First and foremost, “Heart Museum,” marvels at the organ that constantly powers us.

– Shay Collins ‘18

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair — Pablo Neruda

“You are like nobody since I love you.”

A collection of some of the Chilean poet’s most renowned works, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair aptly portrays the complex nature of romantic relationships, brilliantly capturing the universal experience of falling in love as well as heartbreak. A master of poetics, Neruda immortalizes the often ephemeral beauty of love and shines light on the immense power it has over human emotions.

– Andrea Yang ‘20

 

For the Single and Proud:

Movies and Television:

“Company Picnic” from The Office 

Michael Scott has moments of relatability and wisdom interspersed with his idiocy. In “Company Picnic,” he plans to win back Holly, but instead decides to simply enjoy his time with her and wait to tell her how he feels. He caps off one of the great Office monologues by admitting, “It’s gonna take a long time […] I’m in no rush.

– Lev Akabas ’19

The Michael Cera Sucks at Love trilogy (Juno, Nick & Norah’s, Scott Pilgrim)

Park your Yugo, unplug your hamburger phone and throw on your flannel hat, it’s 2007-2010 Michael Cera time. In those four years, Canada’s favorite nebbish was typecast as an irredeemable coward/softboy/twerp. Feeling bummed that you have nobody to spend Valentine’s Day with? At least you aren’t sharing it with one of Cera’s indie flick characters.

– Shay Collins ’18

Annie Hall — Woody Allen

Through self-deprecating humor and neurotic aggression, the diminutive comedian has never been more honest with his desires and frustrations. It’s a story about falling in, and then quite inevitably, out of love. Maybe all our relationships are completely crazy and destructive, but as Allen’s Alvy sighs, “we need the eggs.”

– Ruby Que ’20

Her — Spike Jonze

It’s 2018 and you’re not falling in love with an AI yet? You probably should, because that’s definitely not the worst option. In this romantic sci-fi, sensitive writer Theodore finds himself intrigued by his new operating system, who has a bright and playful personality. Few movies manage to capture the beauty and heartbreaks of human connections as acutely as this one — in an unusual way, that is.

– Ruby Que ’20

Gone Girl — David Fincher

This film isn’t about loneliness per se, but it makes you feel a lot better about being single. You never know what kind of person your partner really is. What if all the texts and hugs and kisses were just to lower your guard? Maybe they’ve been planning to steal your cat, your secret pasta recipe or your entire life away from you.

– Ruby Que ’20

Mistress America — Noah Baumbach

While Lady Bird is the first film that comes to mind when thinking of Greta Gerwig, this 2015 Sundance hit, starring and co-written by Gerwig, showcases the craziness of relationships while exploring what it means to not fit in. Features an eclectic soundtrack, great performances and authentic situations, it’s a love story about loving oneself, college experiences and weird best friends.

– Ashley Davila ’19

 

Songs:

“Marvin’s Room” — Drake

Demonstrating drunken passion for a woman from his past, Drake broods and solemnly raps over a track that would be known as one of his most emotional. The song showcases a frayed state of communication between the desired and the undesirable. Remorse turns to yearning and power yields to shame as Drake progressively reveals his vulnerable state. The lyrics “I’m just sayin’ you could do better / Tell me, have you heard that lately?” encapsulate what it means to desire someone who doesn’t feel the same.

– Jonvi Rollins ’20

“Scenes from a Separation” — Darren Hanlon

As someone who listens to the saddest music, not much phases me anymore. “Scenes from a Separation,” however, is the saddest song I have ever listened to. The song opens with Darren Hanlon’s melancholic, folksy guitar chords, and the first line he sings is “We earmarked our August vacation as a fine place to fall apart / Then heard that a trial separation was a quaint idea for a new start.” The song is about a relationship that has been broken but remains hopeful. Darren Hanlon writes about good memories while he hopes that the relationship doesn’t dissolve in his fingers.

– Viri Garcia ’20

“New York”— St. Vincent

St. Vincent is famous for unique guitar riffs and avantgarde songs, which sets this piano ballad apart. It opens with a mellow piano piece followed by the achingly beautiful line “New York isn’t New York/ Without you, Love.” This song is about missing someone who truly understands you and the difficulty of moving on, but it’s also about missing NYC itself.

– Ashley Davila ’19

“Big Girls Cry” — Sia

One of the best things about “Big Girls Cry” is the title of the song. Someone finally told Fergie to take a seat and quit pushing the invincible Wonder Woman image of girls who don’t cry. Sia’s whole album 1000 Forms of Fear was about sadness and heartbreak, but “Big Girls Cry” is one of the best-written songs on the album. Sia’s emotional lyrics have always been so real that they can even be hard to listen to. The chorus “I may cry ruinin’ my makeup / Wash away all the things you’ve taken / And I don’t care if I don’t look pretty / Big girls cry when their hearts are breaking” provides assurance that it’s okay to feel sad and cry when going through a heartbreak. Yes, big girls cry, Fergie.

– Viri Garcia ’20

“Instant Crush” — Daft Punk ft. Julian Casablancas

There are tons of songs about that painful time in a relationship where you feel everything is starting to crumble and a breakup is inevitable. However, there is only one song in which Julian Casablancas — the lead singer of The Strokes — sings about that with Daft Punk. “Instant Crush” is full of synths and auto-tune, as Daft Punk would do. The sad synth chords begin to build up at the pre-chorus: “And all I hear is that last thing that you said / I listen to your problems, now listen to mine / I didn’t want to anymore.” The song is catchy, powerful and sad, something Julian Casablancas’s voice is perceived incapable of painting given his upbeat work with The Strokes.

– Viri Garcia ’20

“Another’s Arms” — Coldplay

Coldplay’s Ghost Stories remains one of their most emotional albums, and given the context in which lead singer Chris Martin wrote the lyrics, it’s understandable. Chris Martin divorced Gwyneth Paltrow after being married for 13 years, which led to the making of Ghost Stories. “Another’s Arms” is the most difficult track to listen to on the album. Martin’s exposed vocals and painful lines, such as “Late night watching TV / Used to be you here beside me / Is there someone there to reach me / Or someone there to find me.” It goes without saying that the haunting, melancholic “Another’s Arms” is one of the most painful songs by Coldplay.

– Viri Garcia ’20

“Pretty Girl” — Clairo

Clairo’s simple music video, in which she lip syncs and dances to “Pretty Girl” while sitting in front of her computer, recently went viral. “Pretty Girl” is about breaking free from a toxic relationship, and knowing that it’s okay to leave someone if they want you to be someone you’re not. “I was so blinded by you / Now I cry to think about the fool that I was,” Clairo sings in the second verse. “Pretty Girl” provides reassurance that while cutting someone out of your life is hard, sometimes it’s better that way. The ‘90s bubbly synths and beat of the song make it fun, and the chorus is catchy and fun to dance to, so once you free yourself from someone toxic, go listen to “Pretty Girl.”

– Viri Garcia ’20