A 2021 Film Journey: Day 45

It was another snow day in the Pacific Northwest, and today also happened to be a holiday. Stuck in doors, I again embraced the excuse to sit down and watch a couple movies. In honor of Valentines Day, I chose to fill my day with romance films. I may be a lonely, single cat lady, but my heart can still be warmed by a good romance film.

Love & Basketball (2000, Dir. Gina Prince-Bythewood)

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My first revisited director of Black History Month is Gina Prince-Bythewood for her debut feature Love & Basketball. The film also marks the second film of the month to star Regina Hall in her breakout role. And while I was somewhat ambivalent on The Old Guard and actively disliked Girls Trip, the combination of Prince-Bythewood and Hall brought the best out of each other. Love & Basketball was an absolute treasure.

What makes Love & Basketball work is Prince-Bythewood’s voice as a woman in the storytelling. The relationship between Lena (Hall) and Quincy (Omar Epps) falters while the two of them are in college because of a sexist double standard. Lena never once asked Quincy to put her before the game, but the second that Lena was unwilling to risk her spot on the team for him, his ego was bruised beyond repair and the relationship ended. Prince-Bythewood tells a story that’s brimming with romance but respects its female lead as more than a wife to be.

2046 (2004, Dir. Wong Kar-Wai)

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After Love & Basketball, I was in the mood to re-watch one of my all-time favorite romance films, Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000). I’m doing my best to keep this blog focused on new to me watches only, but let it be known that In the Mood for Love is an absolute masterpiece, and easily one of the five best films of the 21st century. After that viewing, I was still in Wong Kar-Wai film, so I put on one of his I hadn’t seen before: 2046.

I think I loved 2046, but I’m not actually sure yet. Wong Kar-Wai took a more experimental approach to the creation of this film, and it worked well with his style. His films frequently feel like they exist outside of time, each interaction between characters being too important to exist in reality. 2046 uses this heightened approach to intercut scenes from the protagonist’s short stories. The science fiction of these stories blends with the rest of the movie’s hopeless romance to create a film that is both perplexing and brilliant.

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