Andy Bockelman's movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.
Recommended Valentine’s Day movies
Now showing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas
“Warm Bodies,” 3 out of 4 stars
Available on DVD
“Safety Not Guaranteed,” 3 out of 4 stars
“Hello I Must Be Going,” 2.5 out of 4 stars
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” 3 out of 4 stars
“The Sessions,” 3.5 out of 4 stars
When Feb. 14 rolls around each year, there’s no shortage of recommended viewing experiences for couples to share. Although you can’t beat the variety of classics ranging from “An Affair to Remember” to “When Harry Met Sally,” there’s something to be said for new love stories, and the past year gave us some truly innovative romances.
Whether it was the existentialist relationship of “Ruby Sparks” or Woody Allen’s tribute to all things amore in “To Rome with Love,” we’ve seen plenty of recent unorthodox tales of adoration. If you’re tired of the same-old, same-old in your Valentine’s Day viewing, here’s a few new selections that might shake things up.
'Safety Not Guaranteed'
Introverted Seattle magazine intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is coerced into accompanying a reporter (Jake Johnson) sent to a small Washington beach town to check out the person behind a bizarre classified ad sent to their publication. When they track down the man (Mark Duplass), Darius is tasked with befriending him to find out his history, which, based on his ad, involves time travel. Even as she gets closer to him, she can’t determine whether he’s an idealistic inventor or completely delusional.
People always seem to find their soulmate in the last place they’d expect, and if you’ve seen Plaza’s cynical character on “Parks & Recreation,” you know she can be tough to bring out of her shell. Slowly but surely, in one of the oddest courtships ever, she and Duplass manage to make a connection as two people misunderstood by everyone around them.
You never know which direction this story will veer because it’s consistently unclear if this guy is really off his rocker, but the conclusion nonetheless will leave you scratching your head. For a less confusing but equally complex story involving Duplass, be sure to check out the indie dramedy “Your Sister’s Sister.”
'Hello I Must Be Going'
Thirty-something Amy (Melanie Lynskey) has good reason to be depressed. Newly divorced and forced to move in with her parents (Blythe Danner, John Rubinstein), nothing has gone her way lately.
When she meets 19-year-old Jeremy (Christopher Abbott), sparks fly, and the two of them tumble into an unexpected affair despite many misgivings on her part, not the least of which involves their age difference and the fact that her new beau’s parents could ruin her father’s already-struggling business.
2012 was a banner year for women hooking up with younger men, but the dynamic here is much less foreboding than Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the lofty “Anna Karenina” or Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in the Southern Gothic “The Paperboy.” In this case, the two lovers are bonded by their desire to stop pretending to be something they’re not regardless of the consequences.
Actor Todd Louiso’s movies behind the camera may be off the radar — a special no-prize goes to the few people who have heard of, let alone seen “Love Liza” and “The Marc Pease Experience” — but they’re always emotionally insightful. Fans of the Marx brothers, such as Amy, will note the title comes from Groucho’s song from “Animal Crackers.”
'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'
Entering his freshman year of high school, painfully shy bookworm Charlie (Logan Lerman) has no friends and can’t seem to make an impression on anyone other than his teachers. When he meets a senior named Patrick and his stepsister Sam (Ezra Miller, Emma Watson), he quickly becomes part of their social circle, but Charlie’s awkward feelings for Sam start to become problematic.
Adapting and directing a screen version of his own novel, Stephen Chbosky really gets into the head of teens coping with, among other issues, the pressures of first love. There’s perhaps nothing more painful for adolescents than longing for someone who only considers them a friend as they continue to make terrible dating decisions.
Although the story focuses mostly on adorably nerdy underdog Lerman, the romantic woes of Watson’s pixie-like Sam and Miller’s openly gay Patrick show that everybody has a tough time during those four years.
Paralyzed with polio since childhood, poet/journalist Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) never has let his bodily handicap overcome his will to live his life, but one element he has yet to undergo is that of physical intimacy. When he is asked to write an article about the topic from the point of view of the disabled, he decides to take on the charge himself by hiring a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt), whose job is to guide him in the ways of intercourse. The trouble is being able to separate his feelings for her from their professional association.
Funny, inspiring and poignant, this account of the real-life writer O’Brien — also the subject of the documentary short “Breathing Lessons” — proves that even if the majority of your day is spent trapped in an iron lung, you should never lose hope that you can find that special someone. As one of the most underrated actors working today, Hawkes gives one of his best performances, even damaging his spine and internal organs with his methodical process as the bedridden scribe, while an Oscar-nominated Hunt makes a phenomenal comeback playing the woman torn between her clingy patient and her husband (Adam Arkin).
In the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, society is split between uninfected humans and corpses who shuffle around mindlessly, feasting on flesh. One of these undead (Nicholas Hoult) has tried to make the most of his situation, but when he meets a living survivor (Teresa Palmer), something deep inside him awakens as he attempts to woo her by reclaiming his humanity.
This may well be the first zom-romcom and one of the few installments of the zombie genre told from the perspective of a cadaver, with Hoult’s internal monologues hilarious. And, compared to the Web series “Woke Up Dead” or “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night,” it’s Shakespeare, in more ways than one.
Based on the book by Isaac Marion — which plays with the mythology by giving the creatures enough mental acuity to open doors and gaining their victims’ memories by eating their brains — we see a whole new version of the “Romeo & Juliet” narrative with a girl named Julie and a boy who knows only his name in a past life began with R, except the Montagues didn’t suffer from a permanent case of rigor mortis, and Juliet didn’t stab Romeo in the heart on their first meeting, thanks to extensive training from her dad (John Malkovich).
A lot of films claim to have “something for everyone,” but this one truly earns the title of a great date movie, with enough viscera to scare the ladies into the arms of their men, yet enough tender, clever moments to capture the hearts of everyone watching.
Remember, love means never having to say you’re sorry … for devouring your girlfriend’s ex.
Andy Bockelman is a Craig resident, freelance writer and Denver Film Critics Society accredited film fanatic who occasionally reviews movies playing in Steamboat Springs.