Back in the day, the movies taught us everything about love: How to dress, flirt, open a door or light a cigarette for your date, kiss, banter, seduce and—up to a point—make love. (The instruction manual was somewhat different for film noir and French films.) Perhaps movies still serve as an instrument of socialization for adolescents, while grownups embarking on a potential relationship use movies as a Rorschach test for compatibility. As for those already involved with what used to be called a significant other, here are some suggestions St. Valentine whispered in my ear. He really misses drive-ins, by the way.
SF Indiefest, the loopy compilation of under-the-radar, off-the-beaten-path gems, offers several temptations for open-minded couples. The French political satire Jacky in the Kingdom of Women (Feb. 15 and 19) unfolds in an upside-down country where women run the show and men are confined to the house and their improbable dreams. Sweden sends Aerobics: A Love Story (Feb. 14 and 16), an uplifting drama about a mentally challenged woman, the man she falls for, and her domineering sister. If your sweet tooth craves irony-steeped saccharine, add your voice to the power ballad sing-along (a.k.a. the Anti-Valentine’s Day Mass Karaoke Party) on Feb. 14. Indiefest runs Feb. 5-19 at the Roxie and other venues. Tickets and more information here.
The Super Bowl is over and spring training approacheth. Can the Giants deliver another miraculous season? (I’m not greedy. I just dislike the Dodgers very, very, very much.) The first-ever Hot Stove Movie and Music Festival puts us in the mood with the terrific and timely local docs Ghost Town to Havana and Havana Curveball, and live sets by former third-base coach Tim Flannery, local fave Chuck Prophet and L.A.’s witty Dan Bern (who wrote the songs for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story). Writer-director Ron Shelton will be on hand Feb. 6 to throw out the first pitch with Bull Durham, starring the young and beautiful Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner. The Hot Stove Movie and Music Festival takes place Feb. 6-8 at the Vogue. Tickets and more information here.
Charlotte Rampling—I could just stop there, yes?—embodies melancholic, despair-tinged romance. The annual Mostly British Film Festival treats us to the brave actress’ 2012 discomfiting portrayal of a woman who’s too smart for most men (and for her own good). I, Anna (Feb. 13) was directed by her son, Barnaby Southcombe, and co-stars Gabriel Byrne as an unhappy London detective working a murder case. Too dark for you and your beau? The Irish romantic comedy Standby (Feb. 16) throws former lovers Jessica Paré and Brian Gleeson together at the Dublin airport, then sends them out for an episodic night on the town. The Mostly British Film Festival runs Feb. 12-22 at the Vogue. Tickets and more information here.
The redoubtable Noise Pop music festival (Feb. 20-Mar. 1) kicks out the jams with a film series unspooling Feb. 20-23 at the Roxie, the Swedish American Hall, Artists' Television Access and the Independent. There’s a free screening of Jonathan Demme’s timeless Stop Making Sense (Feb. 23), recorded more than three (!) decades ago at Talking Heads shows in L.A. If dancing in place with that special someone reminds you too much of high school, clear out the cobwebs with the West Coast premiere of Hardcore Devo Live (Feb. 20), a blistering concert resurrection of the Ohio band’s earliest, most experimental and least-known songs. Tickets and more information here.
I can still remember my eighth-grade field trip to a downtown Chicago movie palace to see Franco Zeffirelli's then-modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare made accessible and relevant, or so our teacher thought, forgetting that 13-year-olds would be both titillated and embarrassed by the brief nudity. (Ah, those naïve, pre-internet days.) You see, Zeffirelli embraced the sexual revolution (and burgeoning youth market) by showing the star-crossed lovers as, well, lovers. Impresario nonpareil Marc Huestis revives the Bard’s lovelorn tragedy on Valentine’s Day with Leonard Whiting (the film's Romeo), a Best Mask contest and an inspired array of film clips and surprise guests. If you’re going to drink, stick to absinthe. Tickets and more information here.