A&E Features — 06 February 2014

Travis Danner

Special to the Express

Year after year, people end up watching the same movies on Valentine’s Day over and over and over.

This year, step up your game a little. Branch out. Make it a point to watch movies that celebrate the depth and diversity of the forms in which human love can manifest. Here is a list of 10 unconventionally romantic films that completely avoid the Hollywood boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back formula.

So there will be no “When Harry Met Sally”s, no “Love Actually”s and no “The Notebook”s on this list.

And now for some romances that are completely different.

“Harold and Maude (1971)” A suicide-obsessed teenager falls in love with a 79-year-old woman. While I realize I’ve lost almost 100 percent of the readership with that last sentence alone, it’s your loss if you live your life without seeing this movie. It’s at turns witty, insightful and in the end, quite profound.

“Secretary (2002)” James Spader spanks Maggie Gyllenhall, a lot. At one point he puts a saddle on her back. It’s a very cute little movie. A bondage romance story released quite a few years before “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

“WALL-E (2008)” I’ll admit, when WALL-E and EVE kiss in outer space, I usually cry a little. They’re tears of joy, of course. Yes, I’m a man, and no, I don’t mind admitting that certain movies make me a little emotional.

“Let the Right One In (2008)” Twilight sucks. Really, really badly. If you’re into tales of vampirism, this is where you should be focusing your attention instead. A bullied middle-schooler meets and falls for a young girl who also happens to be much, much older than she seems. A pretty gory movie, but in the end, it’s very sweet with some surprises and unforgettable imagery along the way.

“Brokeback Mountain (2005)” If you have a problem with watching this movie, you have no soul.

“Her (2013)” A most recent entry into this list, but its inclusion is necessitated by how intimate, intense and funny of an experience it is. The plot is fairly basic — a man falls in love with his computer. But, what really sets this movie apart is how well it nails the details of what it truly means to connect with another person.

“Drive (2011)” Not a romantic film, per se, but one that features a main character whose sole motivation is to help a woman he loves. And he does some pretty crazy stuff to do it. Who knew smashing someone’s face with a hammer could be such a grand, romantic gesture?

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