Dinner and a movie: it’s the quintessential date night. Here in Vermont, we are blessed with an abundance of fine restaurants that plate a variety of styles enhanced by a healthy localvore movement. But if you aren’t sure if “Fifty Shades Freed” is the right cinematic nightcap, here are some suggestions you can watch in your home theater while cuddling on the couch.
We all know Pixar movies are as entertaining for adults as they are for children, so you shouldn’t overlook this animated feature. In one sense, the film is truly a rom-com, taking the audience through the ups and downs of the blossoming romance between innocent Linguine and world-wise Colette, but this film is also about the love affair so many of us have with cuisine. In the same way Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” tries to visually represent the aural experience of listening to music, this film uses shapes, lights and movement to portray the sensation of taste. The preparation of food in the film is presented through a warm and affectionate lens and reminds us that a good meal can win almost anyone over.
“The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938)
Describing this film is like listening to a grandfather describe to his grandson all the things that make “The Princess Bride” great: “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles …” There are few romances that can pack it all in like this movie can. The score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold is full of emotional swells and exciting themes that would go on to influence cinematic composers for years. Errol Flynn is simply electric as the swashbuckling title character, and the way Olivia de Havilland stares into his eyes in her role as Maid Marian will make you wonder if Robin is truly the greatest archer in the film or if his aim falls second to the bow of a cherubic, winged sharpshooter.
Ever see a movie where the perfect couple are the two people who don’t get along through the whole film, and you’re just waiting for them to admit they’re in love? Almost every one of director Howard Hawks’ films are, at their heart, this type of screwball comedy romance, but he was the master at wrapping it up in a cloak of adventurous plots and daredevil lifestyles. “Hatari!” is set in Africa where an ensemble cast of unique individuals led by John Wayne captures animals for zoos. Shot on location in Tanzania, the film is full of stunning vistas that can recreate the romance of a sunset on Lake Champlain without the negative wind chill. Set to a beautiful score by Henry Mancini, this film is hip, fun and full of sexual tension.
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992)
If you’re looking for something macabre but don’t want to sacrifice the mood, might I suggest this film whose tagline is “love never dies.” Although the story of Dracula has been told a hundred times and more, this richly painted version of the classic story focuses on the lust and love that drive us to do great and sometimes terrible things. Although the film can be lauded for incorporating elements, plotlines and characters from Stoker’s novel that are often left out, its real strength is in the visual and physical freedom it uses to create a world where the extremes of fear and love are expressed in the most fantastic of ways. This film will alternately have you pulling your date closer with passion and sometimes jumping right into their arms with fright.
Any one of these films would pair well with any cuisine and hopefully be the perfect dessert to end a successfully romantic evening.