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It's Valentine's Day. And for many people, this is a magical day for romance, love and comparing material gains in order to measure the strength of your relationship against other people's.
For the rest of us, it's a day to swing between nausea and knowing condescension as a parade of ostentatious blooms make their way around the city.
I've never been one for Venereal Day, having always viewed it as a poxy celebration created to sell ugly stuffed teddy bears and false promises. I prefer Leslie Knope's version of the holiday, Galentine's Day*. Not only an excuse to drink champagne before 10am, it's a celebration of the beautiful platonic love a woman has with her favourite gals.
And the best part about Galentine's Day is that it doesn't discriminate based on relationship status! Who cares if you're single, shacked up or 'complicated'? Not your Gals, that's for sure! So for this Galentine's Day, I thought I'd list the five best Galentine's movies to watch with your special ladies. You'll laugh! You'll cry! You may drive off a cliff at the end, but the important thing is that you'll be together!
*Technically speaking, Galentine's Day is celebrated on February 13. But I love the holiday so much, I'm electing to move it to the 14th.
1. Fried Green Tomatoes
Although the movie is a santised version of Fannie Flagg's book 'Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe', it's still a great contender for the best Galentine's movies. Not only is it a romantic love story between two women (because, to put it bluntly, Idgie and Ruth were all up in each other's business) but it's an exploration of the friendship that can exist between two women of completely different ages.
It would be remiss not to mention the troubling depiction of race relations - Idgie and her family are painted as benevolent employers to the African Americans who've served their family for generations, with one of them even prepared to be hanged in order to save Idgie from a murder charge. And the film's admission of homosexuality was vague at best; the lesbian relationship at its core was only suggested by the masculine clothes worn by Idgie. So sure, it's not without it's many problems. But I defy anyone not to cry when Ruth, in her dying moments, asks Idgie to 'tell me about the lake'. Also, there's this to watch on repeat whenever you're feeling troubled.
2. A League of Their Own
Oh, Madonna! Of her vast and regrettable movie ouvre, ALOTO is a rare jewel. Who didn't want to be a Georgia Peach when they were growing up? In backyards around the world, little girls set up diamond pitches and practiced sliding into first, yelling, 'Dirt in the skirt! Dirt in the skirt!'
This movie had everything - sibling rivalry, the underdog coming good and heroic triumphing over sexism. It's also probably one of the few movies you'll see which explores a platonic romance between two heterosexual leads that's never really about sex. Oh, ALOTO. You used to be my playground. You really, really did.
3. But I'm A Cheerleader
Before she starred in Orange Is The New Black, Natasha Lyonne was already wowing indie audiences in fare like But I'm A Cheerleader. A black comedy about a rehabilitation camp for gay teens, BIAC has some of the sweetest, sexiest romance exposition you never realised you'd missed.
As two girls in love bucking the conservative shitshow around them, you can't help but fall in love with Graham and Megan as they sweetly fall in love with each other. Bonus points for RuPaul as a 'reformed' butch camp director.
Bette Midler gets a bad rap, mostly from culturally bereft music snobs who don't understand her and think the only thing she's ever sung is The Wind Beneath My Wings. But man, she shines in this two hander with Barbara Hershey. This is my go-to movie whenever I want to ugly cry.
You know, that kind of crying where you end up taking a shower just so you can rehydrate your face while still flooding the entire contents of your heart down the plughole. It's almost the kind of movie which needs no explanation.
All you need to know is that it celebrates a lifelong love affair between two best friends who meet on a beach when they're 11 and then spend the next 30 years being each other's most important, most infuriating, and most indispensable soulmate. This is what real love is. Men may come and go, but your best friends stay until they're diagnosed with an incurable heart virus and you have to watch them waste away on a beach and then sing Glory of Love in their memory.
5. Thelma and Louise
The ultimate feminist road movie, and the only one that could possibly round out this list. 'Thelma and Louise' was a tour de force about two beaten down women taking control of their lives by escaping in a Thunderbird convertible. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis cemented their place in feminist movie history portraying this exceptional script from Callie Khouri (Nashville), not least of which is when Louise shoots a man trying to rape Thelma. After being robbed by a very young and very dashing Brad Pitt, the pair go on a crime spree that takes them closer to annihilation.
As the cops close in on them, the duo realise they'd rather die free than be shackled and oppressed again by the patriarchal system that's been suffocating them for so long. This final scene is still remembered as one of the most iconic in cinematic history, and there's no better way to celebrate Galentine's Day than letting it be burned into your brain forever.
Terms of Endearment
Now and Then
Made In Dagenham
Who needs roses and chocolates when you have these treasures?
Happy Galentine's Day!
- © Fairfax NZ News
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