Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love Stories on Film You Won’t Find on IMDb Lists – Part II

On part one of this post I noted that some of my favorite love stories on film were missing from the IMDb lists of best movies. I cited The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) as one example, and in this article I’ll tell you about two more.

The first is Secret Admirer (1985), starring C Thomas Howell, and Lori Loughlin. This is a lighthearted teen love story whose plot has a secret admirer letter getting misplaced to cause an avalanche of unintended consequences, most of them humorous. I think the reason I like this movie so much--why I have seen it at least a dozen times over the years--is its balance. It’s a great comedy. The teen supporting actors are extremely well cast, and they do a terrific job generating laughs. The parents are well cast too, and their scenes are even funnier. I got a cramp in my stomach the first time I saw the bridge party fight scene. Look for it; it’s truly hilarious.

But the plot also converges into a good love story. The ending is satisfying because it grows out of a tender, then frustrating tale of unrequited love, love strong enough to offer sacrifices. This is a story of teens growing and learning, finding themselves, and discovering that it can actually be perverse to get what you want. You’ll laugh your way to the end, but you’ll be touched by the closing sequence.

The other title I wanted to recommend is Electric Dreams (1984), starring Lenny Dohlen, and Virginia Madsen. This is an unusual love story. It features a love triangle between a boy, a girl, and a computer. The drama in this one is not particularly high, and the acting is strictly mid-rate, but what nudges this film into the “special” category is the music. It’s original, composed by Giorgio Moroder, plus others, with some of the songs performed by Culture Club. But it’s perfect for this film, and what the director has done is structure the film as drama plus side scenes that are really music videos. So in a way, the movie is a kind of musical. Whatever it is, it works to produce a great entertainment experience. The music videos are good or better on their own merits, and they nicely complement the love story and the progression of the lead characters’ emotions. This one is a unique viewing experience, a true change of pace love story.
The bad news is that Electric Dreams is not readily available. A couple years ago, it was re-released as a Region 2 (UK) DVD, but a Region 1 (USA) version has not yet been produced. If you go out on Amazon, you can read dozens of reviews begging for a US-based DVD, but the reality is that if you want to see this one in the US, you’ll probably have to settle for used VHS. I did that after my TV-recorded version wore out. Now my bought VHS has given out as well. So I’m waiting for the DVD release, just like thousands of others.

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