You did it. The economy is in the toilet but you didn't care. You were on Amazon at 4 AM in the doldrums of early February and convinced yourself that you had to take advantage of the sweet deals on the future of home viewing entertainment. “For that price, how could I NOT need a Blu-ray player and a new HDTV?”
So you plunged in. The Sony BDP-S550 1080p player and the 37″ Sharp Aquos LCD set were suddenly yours. Huzzah. No problem!
Actually, uh, there might a problem. It's nearly Valentine's Day and you've got this marvel of modern motion picture technology occupying a great deal of space in your living room and even more space in your mind, everyday. In between planning how many times you want to watch the recorded Planet Earth marathon in hi-def, a far more important conundrum emerges: “How can I honor this awesome gift-to-myself on the day when I'm supposed to be paying full attention to someone else? Hey, I could make her dinner and we can watch a movie!” Crisis averted.
Oh wait. The electronics goodies arrived before you had time to buy any next-generation DVDs. That's Problem #2.
Instinctively, for Valentine's Day, you decide “I'll get a romantic movie for us to watch.” That's fine. Unfortunately, Love Actually – though quite an awesome film in its own right – doesn't get any more enjoyable when the image clarity and sound quality improves. You didn't just spend two paychecks to get a better look at Hugh Grant's quivering lip and pass the tissues — I don't care what day it is; and this realization reveals to you the biggest problem, yet.
The best movies that take advantage of the Blu-ray format are clearly those geared around action and aesthetics. Nobody spent years perfecting 1,080 lines of horizontal resolution because they wanted to better experience the perceived symbolism in Garden State.
Rather unfortunately, however, most of the female population finds the genre of action completely mindless, boring, and uninteresting (their feelings of distaste regarding explosion-laden cinema increase exponentially on the day when they're supposed to be receiving gifts of chocolate and letters detailing all the nuances of a shared, passionate love).
What you're looking for is a flick that meets the following five criteria:
- a movie that is good
- a movie that she'll agree to watch
- a movie that she won't regret agreeing to watch (during or after the fact)
- a movie that takes advantage of all the glorious gadgetry now looking across your coffee table
I've got four. That's two double-features, folks (one for St. Valentine, one for later).
Is it a good movie? Yes. Forever yes. The sound is killer, the picture is even better, and the movie delivers over and over again. When working on this idea, Casino Royale was the first movie that came to mind with the footnote “it's on the list, no question.”
How do I sell her on this? There's a plethora of Daniel Craig being a hunk and all manly. She's going to be taken all over the world: Prague, Uganda, Madagascar, the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro, Venice, and Lake Como. Basically, tell her she'll be watching the life and the man for which she would leave you, if the opportunity presented itself.
What's in it for me? Eva Green, Caterina Murino (the hot lady who turns up dead way too quickly), and enough anonymous henchmen being killed to keep you from falling asleep or counting the number of stripes on the couch. There's also fistfights in stairwells, foot chases infused with a heavy dose of parkour, fireballs, machinery, sinking hotels, and showers with clothes on. For God's sake, there's a car chase at an airport!
Nice bonus: There's actually a love story hidden inside the third act, which will undoubtedly lead nicely into your post-movie activities. Be sure to check out, “A Couch, A Film, and a Bottle of Wine,” to find out which vino goes best with bond.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Is it a good movie? Yes. And you don't necessarily need to have seen either of the previous Bourne flicks to appreciate it. However, if she hasn't seen any of the Bourne films, you should watch them ahead of time and then be able to answer all her questions (and subsequently straddle that thin line of ‘well-read' and ‘ubergeek').
How do I sell her on this? Well, “it's Matt Damon getting sweaty and running around” is a good opener. He doesn't do much other than glare and beat people to death all over the world but it proves to be enough, I promise.
What's in it for me? Non-stop action for 110 minutes, one of the best “you're really going to want to be a secret agent after watching this” movies ever made, and most girls seem to either really like or really hate Julia Stiles (the benefit of the former is obvious and if it's the latter, your lady will excoriate Ms. Stiles throughout the movie and subsequently give you several dozen chances to feed her compliments about how Julia isn't as pretty as her).
Nice bonus: The entire Bourne Trilogy was just released on Blu-ray for the first time and you might be the first person on the block to own it (leading to increased social standing, instantly).
Is it a good movie? Yes. It's a sleek, well-made, fast-paced, thoroughly cool and undeniably awesome action movie.
How do I sell her on this? Firstly, if she's opposed to comic book flicks no matter what, then you should probably dump her. Otherwise, just explain that it's one of the few superhero films that doesn't take itself too seriously and – as a result – it's a very fun and entertaining watch. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, there's more intentional humor than in any other superhero movie and there's no woman (or man, if we're being honest) on Earth who doesn't want to be with Robert Downey Jr.
What's in it for me? One of the best superhero flicks ever, fantastic action sequences, a bevy of cool cars/tech/gadgets on display, an appropriately rocking original score, Leslie Bibb in high definition, and more dead anonymous henchmen.
Nice bonus: As the most recent entry on this list, Iron Man's Blu-ray transfer is the most impeccable option here. This is the movie you'll pop in when your dad comes to visit and asks “what's the difference between those blue discs and the old kind?”.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Is it a good movie? Absolutely. Many people will dub it ‘underrated' but that's the wrong word. Yes, it's overlooked. Yes, it's more “cult” than “blockbuster.” Yes, it should be more popular. But it's not underrated; anyone who has seen it appropriately rates it as “phenomenal.”
How do I sell her on this? It's the least typical action movie out of all those on this list; it's more of a mystery/comedy/small-scale caper than it is a member of the genre populated by people like Michael Bay. It's extremely funny, and beautifully photographed (great colors). There's also a cute (albeit troubled) love story going on. And Val Kilmer plays a gay guy. That's funny stuff.
What's in it for me? Michelle Monaghan topless, first and foremost. Secondly, a movie that is clever, innovative, and makes you wonder why there's not more movies like this. Also: I, personally, will like you more if we ever meet and you say “I saw Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and I really dug it.”
Nice bonus: As I said, this movie is nowhere near as popular as it should be. So, if you two establish it as a shared cultural reference, it gives you something relatively unique in common (this movie is laden with quotable lines – you'll thank me later). Plus, you'll be able to recommend it to others and ultimately look very smart.
The last, and arguably most important, step in enjoying a double feature on any day is the scheduling; even the best pairing of action flicks can be ruined by the order. You always want the longer movie to run first and if the running times are about the same, save the faster-moving movie for the second slot.
Here's how I, personally, would go about scheduling the aforementioned four movies:
A Very Downey Valentine's
Act I: Iron Man
Act II: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
It's Saturday Night, It's Raining, and I Want Some Action
Act I: Casino Royale
Act II: The Bourne Ultimatum
One important final note: don't think that just because you're going to make her dinner and have arranged a thrilling movie night (which you and I both know you'll take credit for) that you can skimp on the gift or card. No, sir. My ideas are good – they can be great – but they're not that powerful. Not yet, at least.