Weekend Watchlist: Our funny Valentine’s

By The Pitt News Staff

What’s the perfect Valentine’s Day watch? If you just got out of a bad relationship, maybe it’s Ari Aster’s gory, relationship-ending horror movie “Midsommar.” If you’re yearning for love, maybe it’s a classic rom-com like “Dirty Dancing.” Or maybe Feb. 14 is just like any other day, and you just want to watch your favorite movie, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Here are our staff’s streaming plans for Valentine’s Day.

Midsommar (Amazon Prime) // Simon Sweeney, Staff Writer

If you’re looking for a sweet Valentine’s Day romp to curl up with, do not –– I repeat, do not –– turn on “Midsommar,” Ari Aster’s 2019 summer horror smash. This one is probably better for if you may have just had an extremely messy breakup –– look how much worse it could have been! You might have gotten into a screaming match or two, but at least you didn’t end up trapped with a Swedish death cult, forcing you to examine your relationship with your friends, your boyfriend AND yourself. There’s also enough gore (look, I’m not just saying that. This is a gross movie) to make you forget that you had any issues that don’t involve getting your head bashed in with a mallet by your friends and family. Plus, it has Florence Pugh, one of our finest young actors, as well as Will Poulter (of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” fame) and William Jackson Harper (Chidi from “The Good Place”!). It’s a beautiful film, and one that should help the recently uncoupled looking for some anger-freeing catharsis. It’s violent, it’s harrowing, it’s gorgeous and it is not romantic. The perfect watch for a Valentine’s night.

Dirty Dancing (Amazon Prime) // Nadiya Greaser, For The Pitt News

How much better would John Hughes’ movies be if they dealt with all of the coming-of-age angst, class struggle, romantic pining and sexual tension of youth without the awkward ick of an omnipresent masculine gaze? They would look a lot like Emile Ardolino’s classic “Dirty Dancing.”

Made in the ’80s and set in the ’60s, “Dirty Dancing” is modern in its use of female desire as the lens through which everything else is understood. Even if you’ve never seen it, you know either the now-iconic lake scene or the movie’s ending, set to Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

The film centers on Baby, a high school senior who is spending the summer with her family at a resort in the Catskills. Enter Johnny, played by Patrick Swayze, a working-class dance instructor with class-driven angst and abs for days. Because the camera places Baby so centrally, Johnny becomes the love interest, distressed damsel, objectified hot babe, while Baby is the objectifier, a character with more power and sexual agency than he has.

This undermining and reconstructing of a classically masculine coming-of-age story makes it compulsively interesting and rewatchable, more so than “Sixteen Candlesor “The Breakfast Club.” Add on a soundtrack with classics like “Be My Baby,” sexy dancing and shirtless men, and you have a movie that checks all of the Valentine’s Day boxes, whether you’re watching alone or with your own (not Patrick Swayze) sweetheart.

Hello, My Twenties! (Netflix) // Sarah Stager, Staff Writer

Sure, spending time with your significant other on Valentine’s Day is important — but V-Day is about celebrating all kinds of love, not just the fluffy, romantic stuff. Just as important — or perhaps even more so — are our friendships. What better way to celebrate that platonic, but powerful, love than by watching a series that’s centered around rich and complex female friendships?

The show is about five roommates, all with different backgrounds, interests, wants and needs. Yoo Eun-Jae (Park Hye-su), the shy and nervous new roommate, is the main character of the first episode, but the series soon widens its scope to the point of view of all the roommates as they address their own conflicts, showing the full range of female friendship and college life.

Although all is not always peaceful, the girls always manage to come together to pull off the task at hand — whether that’s hosting a penis party (yes, you read that right) or supporting each other through all the tumult and triumph that comes with being in your early 20s. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, “Hello, My Twenties!” is a perfect series to binge-watch with your closest pals.

The Empire Strikes Back (Disney +) // Diana Velasquez, Staff Writer

This one’s for all my fellow nerds out there. Just because it’s Valentine’s Day absolutely does not mean you need to deviate from your usual binging habits. So for all of us who bought Disney+ for “The Mandalorian” (another great choice for this Friday) — Baby Yoda can be my Valentine any day he wants — and stayed for the never-ending deluge of “Star Wars” content, kick it back with the classic “The Empire Strikes Back.” George Lucas’ 1980 sophomore “Star Wars” film is considered by many superfans and casual moviegoers alike to be the best “Star Wars” movie of them all.

And they’re right. “The Empire Strikes Back” picks up on the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), three years after the first film where Darth Vader, the leader of the Galactic Empire, chases Skywalker down along with the rest of the Rebel Alliance. Lucas, on the wings of his first film’s success, clearly got a budget raise for this one, and though it’s impressive to see what he accomplished on such a low budget in the first — here is Mark Hamill tweeting out a thrifting costume secret from “A New Hope” — it’s nice to see the movie expand its horizons in terms of setting. 

And, well, if your significant other is complaining that this isn’t really a movie for Valentine’s Day, point them to Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and the dashing Han Solo (Harrison Ford) whose romance can still melt hearts, if not carbonite.

And if they’re still complaining? You always have me to commiserate with. Trust me, I know. 

The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) // Brian Gentry, Contributing Editor

Yeah, okay. A TV show with the word “haunting” in its title isn’t necessarily one you want to woo your significant other with after a nice dinner, some wine and chocolate. But horror films are romantic in their own way — in the way that you’re forced to cuddle up next to the person you’re watching them with because you’re too terrified to look at the screen. The first and only season of “The Haunting of Hill House,” based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson, lives up to its implied horror. In its highly nonlinear depiction of the life events of the Crain family, we witness the childhood trauma the children suffer and how they cope with it in the present day, more than 25 years later. Jumpscares abound, and creepy supernatural occurrences happen every few minutes. But between these typical horror scenes is a story of a group of siblings and their father who suffer from a family history of mental illness. While they’ve all gone their separate ways in life, they have to unite against the supernatural forces trying to take over their family. You’ll be in suspense the whole show, but that’s what your partner’s there for.