A little music with your romance? Movies for Valentine’s Day

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If you prefer a little music with your romance try:

Shall We Dance

This is not a typical “boy meets girl and falls in love” kind of movie. In this film the boy already has the girl and they’ve been married for twenty years. Life is good and the marriage is strong but something is still missing. The restless hero, attorney John Clark, played by Richard Gere, impulsively signs up for ballroom dance lessons, prompted by a glimpse of the brooding and beautiful face of a dance instructor played by Jennifer Lopez. Oh, no; another film about a middle-aged husband and his infidelities. Not so! Never happens! Whatever his original motivation for signing up, John falls in love…with ballroom dancing. Watching the actors playing the characters who are learning to dance is just too much fun. This is a wonderful cast and includes Susan Sarandon as John’s wife, Beverly, Anita Gillette as the dance school owner, and Bobby Cannavale, and Omar Benson Miller as John’s fellow dance students. My favorites though have to be Lisa Ann Walter as Bobby, a brassy, sometimes obnoxious but funny advance student, and the great Stanley Tucci as Link, fellow attorney and lover of dance. I mean, a straight man who likes to dance around in sequins walks a very lonely road…” Stanley Tucci has no fear and brings amazing energy and humor to the role. You go, guy!

Shall We Dance is not your typical romantic love story but it is a love story and not about the love of dancing. The romance between John and Beverly survives the kids, the jobs, and the mundane day-to-day un-romances of daily living. One of my favorite movie quotes is from Beverly who comments on why people marry:

“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

People who have no witness will understand how profoundly moving that statement is.

I won’t lie, Shall We Dance is not highly rated, which truly puzzles me. The characters, the humor, the dancing, and the music are upbeat and fun to watch. It’s a come-out-of-the-theater-humming kind of movie. Watch it for yourself and see if you agree. 2004, rated PG-13, 106 minutes.

 Dirty Dancing

Ahh, young love! And young love with a great soundtrack, wonderful dancing, and a strong cast. You can’t go wrong. Hard to believe the movie is over 25 years old, but then again, it’s timeless and will doubtless be watched and appreciated by countless generations to come. And there is no higher tribute to Patrick Swayze who played the yummy Johnny Castle. Released in 1887 and also starring Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, and Cynthia Rhodes this is a movie that can be watched over and over again. After the last memorable dance of the film, I’ll bet Baby never got put in a corner again. Rated PG-13, 100 minutes.  


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