Hello! Happy Valentine’s Day today! I hope you got a card from someone who isn’t your mother. If you did, and you’re in the first flush of a new relationship, you might be bundling up to trundle out to a trendy and packed restaurant, where you will be given approximately 20 minutes to shovel down a three-course prix-fixe menu that contains nothing you genuinely like to eat, then stand out in the cold attempting to hail a cab until you break down and spend several thousand dollars for an Uber car, which will take you home to your apartment, where full, drunk, and nauseated from the shock of going from Arctic weather outside to the radiator-induced jungle heat of your apartment, you will be expected to immediately put out. America is for lovers!
If you’re in a longer-term relationship, or just single, you may choose to sensibly stay in, eat an entire pizza, and snuggle up in front of a romantic movie. If you or your sweetie is of the Hebrew persuasion (and because I’m a statistical genius when it comes to demographics, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance you are!) your go-to film for this sort of occasion is probably something bittersweet and hyper-verbal, something set to a jazz soundtrack as love blossoms and ends between two oddball neurotics as our melancholic but mordantly hopeful bespectacled hero concludes that “we need the eggs.”
BUT NO! NO! YOU CAN’T WATCH THAT!!!
Instead, how about something that’s more of a love letter to a city, where magnificent backdrops of urban life unfurl behind the tableau of various relationships, including one particularly sentimental encounter with a 17-year-old …
NO!!! COVER YOUR EYES!!! NO MORE NO MORE NO MORE!!!
And don’t even think about a film involving a human look at the dysfunctional relationships of a clan of psychologically challenged Upper West Side sisters BECAUSE IT’S NO LONGER POSSIBLE, AND WE ARE ALL TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE PEOPLE. (And that one doesn’t even have Diane Keaton in it.)
So, what can the well-meaning Jewish romantic use to get in the mood, while still upholding their moral integrity? Lucky for you, I’ve provided a list. Get a pen.
A balletomane friend of mine once said to me upon watching Black Swan: “What you don’t understand, Rachel, is that for me that movie is basically hard-core pornography.” Ah, but I do, my friend. I do. I know, what could be more romantic than a bunch of freezing Jews hiding from the Nazis in the forest in Belarus? Now take the sarcasm out of your voice and say it again: What could be more romantic than a bunch of freezing, young, attractive Jews hiding from the Nazis in the forest in Belarus? If the concept of “forest husbands” alone isn’t enough to give you and your sweetie hours of fun, one of those young, attractive Jews who is hiding the other Jews is Daniel Craig, who has a stern romantic subplot all his own.
Exodus. Again. See above. If Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan does not do it for you or your girlfriend, you/she is a) not attracted to men or b) “frigid,” which is the medical term for realizing your life partner looks, sounds, and behaves exactly like someone who I currently have a group of Uber-ordered assassins on standby to come and shoot me if I ever mention his name again.
I know, if you want to get all Nora Ephron up in here, When Harry Met Sally is the obvious choice. I repeat, the obvious choice. But Heartburn, while still hitting the milieu of the shockingly yet obliviously privileged that you may be missing due to EVENTS OUT OF OUR CONTROL THAT WE SHOULD REALLY STOP OBSESSIVELY READING FACEBOOK POSTS ABOUT, has Jack Nicholson’s performance as Mark Forman as Carl Bernstein, whose behavior will make whatever your significant other does that drives you crazy look like nothing in comparison. And it taught me how to properly make mashed potatoes, which, you’ll agree, is a crucial life skill.
Broadcast News. It’s smart. It’s funny. It’s exciting. And in the words of Albert Brooks, it’s a “love triangle where nobody winds up with anybody,” making it hands-down the most existentially perfect romantic comedy ever made.
A Price Above Rubies
Starring Renee Zellweger (!) as a Hasidic gemologist (!!!) who is sexually exploited by her brother-in-law, Dr. Who, until a Puerto Rican jewelry designer (!!!!!) inducts her into the mysteries of Eros and sets her free. Thank me later. And just as Heartburn will teach you how to mash a perfect potato, A Price Above Rubies will teach you how to correctly assess the cut, clarity, color, and price of a large variety of gemstones. What’s more Valentine-y than that?
Whatever your significant other hates most. Nothing says I love you more than successfully talking your partner into sitting through something that makes them want to dig their own eyes out of their sockets with an upholstery tack. Here are some suggestions from my own life: Downton Abbey, Vanderpump Rules, The World Series of Poker. Or you know, you could adopt a policy of mutually assured destruction and watch The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Uber assassins, take us away!
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