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ten best

by Keith Barber

CINEMA PARADISO

Giuseppe Tornatore’s Academy Awardwinning film is widely considered one of the most beautiful, elegant and poetic love stories ever captured on film. It tells the story of Salvatore “Toto” Di Vita and his obsessive love of movies. In wartime Sicily, Toto finds escape from the harsh realities of childhood in the village movie house. He befriends projectionist Alfredo, who becomes a father figure and encourages Toto to follow his dreams. Filled with nostalgia and a hauntingly beautiful score by Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso offers the perfect blend of sentiment, romance and gorgeous scenery — all vital elements in a date movie.

TITANIC

James Cameron’s epic adventure shattered all previous box office records upon its release in 1997. Despite the incredible special effects, the emotional core of the film is the love story between the characters of Rose and Jack, played to near perfection by Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio. Along with a fantastic score and the Celine Dion hit, “My Heart Will Go On,” Titanic is a testament to the eternal nature of love.

ELEGY

Director Isabel Coixet’s masterful adaptation of the Philip Roth novel The Dying Animal is strongly supported by the simmering performances of Pen’lope Cruz and Ben Kingley. A May-December romance has never offered this much hot romance and fantastic chemistry. Unless one is a fan of Pedro Almod’var’s films, they may not fully realize the great range Cruz is capable of. Her performance as Consuela Castillo sets the screen on fire with a sexuality that is simultaneously innocent and white hot.

THE WAY WE WERE

Sydney Pollack’s 1973 film features the stellar cast of Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford and tells the timeless story of an immigrant, working-class girl who falls for a young man of wealth and privilege. The film attempts to answer the age-old question: Can two people from completely different social classes make it work over the long haul? I won’t spoil the ending but Pollack chose the realistic answer to that question.

CASABLANCA

Casablanca offers one of the best stories ever told on the silver screen. Penned by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, Casablanca features film legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in one of the most beautiful romances of all time. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid,” Bogart says during the famous final scene. It is perhaps the most perfect screenplay ever written with a heart as big as the country of Morocco.

SAY ANYTHING

Generation X’s Casablanca, Cameron Crowe’s quirky, adoarable film tells the story of the improbable romance of Lloyd Dobler, played with great verve and sensitivity by John Cusack, and Diane Court. Quite possibly Ione Skye’s best performance, Say Anything reminds us of the bittersweet nature of our first love. There’s nothing like a sweet tearjerker to give your date a case of the “warm and fuzzies.” Plenty of snuggle opportunities during this endearing romantic comedy.

REAR WINDOW

This taut Alfred Hitchcock thriller is held together by the love affair between Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. The scene that introduces the character of Lisa Carol Fremont, played by Princess Grace, is a tight close-up of the enigmatic star. At that moment, Grace Kelly becomes the most beautiful woman who has ever lived. Hitchcock’s great gift was to dramatize the terror of every day life. When renowned photographer LB Jeffries is wheelchair-bound after an injury, he sees a series of strange incidents unfold in a neighbor’s apartment and begins to suspect foul play. That’s when his lovely girlfriend comes to his aid to solve the mystery — nothing like a classic thriller to bring two people together.

MANHATTAN

Woody Allen’s 1979 masterpiece wonderfully combines romanticism with Jewish neuroticism. The film, shot in gorgeous black and white, tells the story of a television comedy writer who falls for his friend’s mistress. Manhattan also features a love story between a 42-year-old man (Allen) and a 17-yearold high school student, played by a very young Mariel Hemingway. This appears to be foreshadowing of Woody Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi Previn. Regardless, a little laughter is a great way to break the ice on a hot date.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY

The 1944 film noir classic by legendary director Billy Wilder captures a love story behind a brutal crime. The story holds true to the axiom that how a relationship begins ultimately determines whether it will be successful or not. Fred McMurray, most famous for his role on “My Three Sons,” plays an uncharacteristic role: an unscrupulous insurance agent. Barbara Stanwyck plays the femme fatale. Wilder’s film is so engrossing and mesmerizing, the cuddling may have to wait until the end credits.

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING

Director Philip Kaufman’s 1988 film tells the story of Tom’s, a doctor in 1960s Poland, and the love triangle that develops between his lover, Sabina, and the one who loves him, Tereza. With fantastic performances by Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin, The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a wonderful, hypnotic film that ponders the three great existential questions of life: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? A beautiful, poetic film that touches on the permanence of love in an impermanent world is the perfect companion on any date night.

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