The Valentine’s Day Love Stinks Movie Marathon

It’s Valentine’s Day, an annual Hallmark-driven time to express love and affection which is all well and good if you’re into that sort of thing. Personally, I’ll pass on going nuts with a card, flowers, candy and a nice dinner out on Feb. 14 for my wife and simply keep telling her I love her every day. It’s worked for about 10 years and I’ll stick to it until it fails miserably.

But even though I’m not an active participant in Valentine’s Day I’m not going to rail against it. Love is obviously a tremendously worthwhile sentiment. Like I tell my wife all the time, I love love – even when it’s been nauseatingly commercialized into Valentine’s Day. I’m such a fan of love that I even tipped my hat to Valentine’s Day on Facebook in my own odd way by sharing an amusing Jean-Claude Van Damme clip with the world.

But I was a lot more amused by the Facebook tributes to Valentine’s Day when my friend pointed out on his timeline that TCM was currently running “Days of Wine and Roses.” It’s a great movie but it’s a thoroughly heartbreaking look at booze-soaked love gone terribly wrong.

The whole thing got me thinking that there should be a movie marathon for all the lonely hearts out there and the people who embrace love but roll their eyes at the sappy nature of Valentine’s Day.

So, without further ado, here are my top films for the Love Stinks Movie Marathon:

“Days of Wine and Roses”

I already mentioned this movie as the jumping point for this thoroughly unromantic post. Alcoholism and love don’t mix very well for Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick in this classic film. Note to all the sweet, young female teetotalers out there: Watch this movie and forever beware the dangers of Brandy Alexanders.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

MV5BMjIyMjgyNzA3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTUxNzYxMTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_We go from booze and a marriage gone bad in “Days of Wine and Roses” to … well, more booze and another marriage gone bad in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” This time it’s Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor watching their relationship take a turn for the worse in this Mike Nichols-directed movie. Note to self: If the wife and I ever become raging alcoholics it may make for a powerful movie but a horrible relationship.

“Play Misty for Me” and “The Beguiled

MV5BMTIzMTMzOTg5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTc0NzYyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_I’m a big Clint Eastwood fan so I’m wedging two of his films into this anti-Valentine’s Day group of movies.

In “Play Misty for Me” Eastwood’s character is a playboy disc jockey who falls into bed with the wrong woman. If Eastwood’s character thought he could just love Jessica Walters’ character and leave her he was terribly wrong.

In “The Beguilded” Eastwood plays an injured Civil War soldier who hides out at a girls boarding school only to be undone by his own lust as he sleeps his way through the joint.

Both movies came out in 1971 which makes it the year of big-screen love gone wrong for the former mayor of Carmel. Eastwood had a far easier time dealing with cutthroat criminals in the “Dirty Harry” films than he did dealing with women in “Play Misty for Me” and “The Beguiled.”

“Fatal Attraction” and “Basic Instinct”

I guess some men just love crazy women. Michael Douglas has the bad judgement to jump in bed with psycho Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” and the equally crazy Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct” with death and mayhem breaking out after each set of passionate, ill-advised encounters. Douglas could send Close and Stone an endless amount of Valentine’s Day flowers and it would never bring an end to the bunny boiling and icepick killings.

“Dial M for Murder”

MV5BMTMwNzc1MzM2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDUxNDU2._V1_SX214_If I was married to Grace Kelly back in her heyday I’d thank my lucky stars. But Ray Milland’s character in “Dial M for Murder?” Not so much. He’s out to kill the poor girl for her money. Hallmark wants to sell us on the idea that Valentine’s Day is all warm and fuzzy but sometimes love is just a crock which is what Kelly’s character learns the hard way in this memorable Alfred Hitchcock production.

“The Graduate”

Congratulations Mike Nichols, you managed to direct two movies on this list.

One the one hand, you can look at “The Graduate” and say that love reigns supreme because the characters played by Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross end up with each other at the end of the movie. Personally, I see a hot mess. Hoffman spends most of the movie boffing Anne Bancroft and then crashes a wedding to the chagrin of almost everyone in attendance to get Ross back. Sure, they love each other enough to hop into the back of a bus together while Simon and Garfunkle play us into the end credits but I see a young relationship already burdened by a series of bad decisions with a gloomy forecast for longterm success. At a bare minimum, “The Graduate” spits in the eye of a sappy Valentine’s Day notion of love and romance being picture perfect.

“The War of the Roses”

MV5BMTgwNTAyMDIwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjcxMTU1MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_Look who’s back on this list? It’s Michael Douglas! This time he’s starring as a man watching his marriage to Kathleen Turner go down in flames. They seemed so darn sweet together in “Romancing the Stone” it just breaks my heart to see them at each other’s throats in this movie. When love dies it ain’t pretty as this black comedy directed by Danny DeVito goes over the top to illustrate.

“Leaving Las Vegas”

Well, here we go again with booze and love combining to make one big mess for everyone involved. In “Leaving Las Vegas” Nic Cage is a self-destructive alcoholic who’s lost his family and job due to his addiction and Elisabeth Shue is a hooker with a heart of gold who falls in love with the big lug despite his obvious flaws. The only time this cute couple enjoys a moment of intimacy is in a dark, flea-bag hotel as Cage’s character is in the throes of death. Isn’t that romantic? Does Hallmark make a card for that? Nah, probably not. Things turned out so much better for Cage when he was in Sin City in “Honeymoon in Vegas.”


MV5BMTU4MzUzNjk5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjc1OTc5._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_You have to assume that when Diane Lane’s and Richard Gere’s characters in “Unfaithful” exchanged wedding vows they thought they’d live happily ever after and the “better or worse” part of the equation wouldn’t involve adultery, murder and jail. But that’s how it pans out in this rather depressing flick. I’d hate to see what Valentine’s Day looked like for these characters in the years following the conclusion of this movie.

“The Grifters” and “The Ice Harvest”

My wife claims that I have a man-crush on John Cusack but I’m just a longtime fan of the man’s work. For the sake of this post, Cusack makes it into one slot on this list because love runs through so much of his filmography. His early career was marked with rom-com’s such as “Better Off Dead” and “The Sure Thing.” As his career matured he shined in “Say Anything” and peaked in “High Fidelity.” In those movies, love eventually conquers all. But in Cusack’s mid-career films “The Grifters” and “The Ice Harvest” love stinks to high heaven.

In “The Grifters” Cusack’s girlfriend is just trying to manipulate him into working a long con and she eventually sets her sights on killing his mother. Charming. As for his mom, Cusack’s character was a weird relationship with her which is fraught with sexual tension that eventually leads to a tragic end for everyone involved.

In “The Ice Harvest” Cusack plays a sad-sack lawyer incompetently trying to make off with a pile of mob money while attempting to win the affection of a femme fatale. She’s bad news but I guess she wouldn’t be much of a femme fatale if she was all sunshine and rainbows now would she? Cusack’s character is also burdened with a frosty ex-wife who not only cheated on him with their divorce lawyer but she eventually married the guy. Just for kicks, she’s now ruthlessly crushing the divorce lawyer’s soul too.

No matter where Cusack turns in these movies, he’s looking for love in all the wrong places with dismal returns on his emotional investments.

Honorable mentions: “Taxi Driver,” “The Last Seduction,” “Red Rock West,” “Romeo is Bleeding,” “Kill Me Again.”

So there you have it, a celluloid celebration of how love can sometimes be nothing at all like the sappy, commercialized version of amore shoved down our throats every year on Valentine’s Day.

Cue up some of these movies tonight, curl up on the couch with the one you love and enjoy the fact that while the relationship you’re enjoying may not always be the stuff of cheesy Valentine’s Day cards at least it’s never as bad as it is for the characters in these films.


5 tattoo ideas for the tortured A’s fan

Jeremy Giambi and the flip play, Kirk Gibson and the 1988 World Series homer, Bud Selig and the ballpark fiasco ... there are plenty of tattoo idea for the tortured A's fan.

Jeremy Giambi and the flip play, Kirk Gibson and the 1988 World Series homer, Bud Selig and the ballpark fiasco … there are plenty of tattoo ideas for the tortured A’s fan.

Think you're a die-hard fan? This Dodgers fan takes the cake.

Think you’re a die-hard fan? This Dodgers fan takes the cake.

Anyone can go out and get a tattoo that captures the glory of their favorite team like this passionate Dodger fan did by committing his back to Jackie Robinson, Vin Scully and Dodger Stadium. But for this die-hard A’s fan, baseball is often about heartbreak and agony. What better way to capture the emotional trauma of being a baseball fan than with a tattoo that immortalizes some of the A’s most gut-wrenching moments and illustrates how every good moment is worth cherishing?

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “5 tattoo ideas for the tortured A’s fan” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

A’s roll the dice on O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty offers the A's some lethal bullpen depth for 2014 and a lot of flexibility to potentially promote Sean Doolittle to closer in 2015.

Eric O’Flaherty offers the A’s some lethal bullpen depth for 2014 and a lot of flexibility to potentially promote Sean Doolittle to closer in 2015.

The big news around baseball today was the Yankees landing stud Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for a whopping $155 million but for this A’s fan the most interesting move of the day was Oakland signing left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty in what could turn out to be a steal. How often can you say that about someone who just inked a $7 million contract while working their way back from Tommy John surgery?

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “A’s roll the dice on O’Flaherty” over at Baseball Hot Corner.


A tip of the hat to the former A’s on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot

Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza all passed through Oakland on their way to memorable careers.

Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza all passed through Oakland on their way to memorable careers.

Can we all agree that a Hall of Fame selection process is a hot mess right now? If the brutally flawed Hall of Fame selection process drags on like this much longer there’ll be about as much joy in Cooperstown as there is in Mudville. Hopefully change for the better is on the horizon because the whole convoluted mess has become tiresome and frustrating to follow.

But for this Oakland A’s fan, looking over the 2014 ballot and ranking the players who made the biggest impact while wearing green and gold offers a welcome break from everything that’s currently wrong with Hall of Fame voting.

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “A tip of the hat to the former A’s on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

A tale of two Decembers for Coliseum-weary A’s owner


On Dec. 24, 2011, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted that it looked like MLB would approve the Oakland A’s proposed move to San Jose soon. But on Dec. 7, 2013, Nathaniel Grow of Sports Law Blog broke the news that MLB rejected the A’s request in June. Just like that, it appeared that owner Lew Wolff‘s attempt to relocate the franchise to the South Bay was, at best, barely on life support. Quite a dramatic turnaround from one December to another.

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “A tale of two Decembers for Coliseum-weary A’s owner” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

Lew Wolff and the ‘evil’ owner Battle Royale

The notion of an "evil" owner is a silly one, but if such a thing really existed where would Oakland's much-maligned Lew Wolff rank?

The notion of an “evil” owner is a silly one, but if such a thing really existed where would Oakland’s much-maligned Lew Wolff rank?

In a refreshing change of pace, there’s recently been some interesting news about the Oakland A’s quest for a new ballpark. Yesterday news broke that there’s a new proposal for a stadium at Howard Terminal in Oakland which generated understandable enthusiasm among the fanbase. That was followed later in the day by a story from the Bay Area News Group in which maligned team owner Lew Wolff quickly shot down the idea. The whole thing sent a large number of A’s fans on Twitter into a tizzy with Wolff serving as a punching bag and the tiresome evil owner narrative playing out the way it always does when he opens his mouth.

If there really are “evil” sports owners out there I’m not sure Wolff truly ranks in that category. Here’s my quick, totally unscientific, look at how Wolff stacks up against some real and fictional “evil” sports owners …

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “Lew Wolff and the ‘Evil’ owner Battle Royale” over at Baseball Hot Corner.

Busy A’s send Blevins to Washington

Happy trails to Jerry Blevins who's headed to Washington after yet another trade by general manager Billy Beane.

Happy trails to Jerry Blevins who’s headed to Washington after yet another trade by general manager Billy Beane.

Another day, another deal for the Oakland A’s. This time it’s left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins hitting the road to join the Washington Nationals’ bullpen in exchange for minor league outfielder Billy Burns. Oakland’s trade for fellow left-handed reliever Fernando Abad last month probably helped make Blevins expendable. Abad is younger and cheaper than Blevins which is always an attractive combination to the small-budget A’s.

BHC logoCLICK HERE to read the rest of “Busy A’s send Blevins to Washington” over at Baseball Hot Corner.