Happy Valentine’s Day! We at htxt hope that your other half (or other halves) are having a wonderful day.
We hope that you made your restaurant booking well in advance. We hope that you received flowers and chocolates at the office. We hope that you’re very much in love and not being fleeced by an arbitrary date in the calendar (although we know you are).
Right, now piss off. This list isn’t for you.
That’s not to say that if you’re not coupled up on Valentine’s Day you need some help. Far from it. You may be as happy as can be and (sensibly) do not give a toss about this particular day. But hey, every PR company we know is cashing in on V-Day through promotions and press releases and we need the traffic, so here we are jumping on the same bandwagon.
We’re using the day Al Capone gunned down a ton of his competition to talk about some of the great entertainment we’ve been consuming over the last couple of months and if we can entice you towards it using the tissue-thin veneer of bitterness, that’s a path we’re willing to take.
So here is your anti-Valentine’s Day entertainment. And just to be clear: these pieces of art don’t need your resentment of Valentine’s Day to recommend them. They’re just really good.
Oh Lord, where to start? Well, we could go with a couple of promotions that are being offered today – such as the Dying Light promotion or the fact that Dead Space is free – but that just feels like cheating. We could also run straight into horror survival territory. Who wants to play Resident Evil 7: BioHazard or Until Dawn on lovey-dovey day?
Don’t let the titillating cover art fool you. Catherine is a predator posing as a house pet – and we’re not referring to either of its female protagonists who share the same name.
Atlus’ barmy mash-up of frenetic platforming and laconic cutscene exposition tells the story of Vincent, who finds himself caught between either saving a relationship that’s on the verge of flatlining, or taking up with a new romantic interest.
Yes, Vincent is a dick. On the one hand, he doesn’t know a good thing when he has it. On the other, he’s too spineless to follow his instincts. We’ve all been caught in a quandary like this before, but rarely has a game done as much to peel back the skin of self-justification as Catherine.
Once again, you’re spoiled for choice. For an examination of toxic masculinity, pick up a copy of Fight Club. For the disintegration and resurrection of one of the most horrible relationships you’ll ever see, read Gone Girl.
If you want to see a loving marriage descend into a swamp of resentment and shattered dreams, we’d suggest reading Revolutionary Road. Hell, pick up Wuthering Heights, The Shining, The Bell Jar, anything written by Dorothy Parker… the list is endless and well documented, so we thought we’d send you in the direction of something – and someone – new.
Ever read anything by Jonathan Hickman? If you’re out of the loop on comic books, the answer is probably ‘no’ and even those familiar with the landscape may have missed him.
Hickman’s written fantastic superhero stuff for Marvel, but his work with Image is more near-the-knuckle. With the dystopian nightmare of East Of West and the occult/banking sector yarn of The Black Monday Murders, Hickman puts across a view of humanity that is as disturbing as it is – in parts, accurate. Really you could pick up any of his comics and settle in for a night of misanthropy but for the purposes of this list we’ve gone for…
The Nightly News
Hickman’s six-part comic book (handily collected now as a trade) tells the story of a cult hell-bent on destroying mainstream media.
The book delves deep into the psyche of both media cartels and damaged individuals on both sides of the fight and presents a vision that’s by turns harrowing, sickening and utterly believable. On top of that, the book’s layout is a work of art. Really, the next time someone tells you comics are just for kids, throw The Nightly News in their face.
We’re going to go ahead and assume that our readers have either a Netflix account or a Showmax account or at least the ability to get hold of a film that’s not on either streaming service. To that end, here are our picks in all three scenarios.
If you have a Netflix account…
There are a ton of anti-Valentine’s Day movies, shows and comedy specials for you to watch on Netflix. Hell, we wrote a feature about them last year – and most of them are still available. This year, though, we’d recommend…
You won’t want to talk to your friends after this.
The Ritual sees four friends head up a Swedish hiking pass to bury the remains of a mate. That sounds like a pretty simple set-up, but before this event even occurs, viewers will be arguing about the duties of friendship.
To be honest, we don’t want to spoil anything about this movie – the less you know going in cold, the better.
Just know that it involves four blokes.
Whose resentment for each other bubbles below the surface.
Who vie for the position of alpha male at all times.
Who make stupid mistakes.
Oh, and there’s a monster.
If you have a Showmax account…
We always hurt the ones we love. We’re always hurt by the ones we love. With that in mind, we recommend…
Transcendence is a film about love. Obsessive love. Love that can kill a planet.
After a woman’s deceased lover returns as an all-powerful AI, she’s blinkered about the rate it decides starts to suck the marrow out of the internet. Skirting the line between what constitutes being human and what technology can replicate, Transcendence is a rather gripping look at how long love takes to die between death and assimilation.
If you have neither…
Right. We’re going to go ahead and assume you have a DVD store membership. Or you’ve tapped up an online retailer. We do not support piracy. With that out of the way, may we suggest Closer? Adapted from Patrick Marber’s play of the same name (oh, and he wrote the screenplay), Closer is one of the most misanthropic examinations of human interaction in existence.
Set in London, it follows the (mis)fortunes of four people whose (un)romantic paths intersect. With dialogue to rival David Mamet and a plotline that plunges into the depths of despair, Closer is a film that will make you never want to trust your feelings with another human ever again.
We are not suggesting anything that’s not on a streaming service. We do not promote piracy. That having been said…
If you have a Netflix account…
To be honest, Black Mirror almost won this category. The Charlie Brooker-helmed series that takes apart humanity by inches through different tech-influenced dystopian scenarios is easily the least human-fuzzy show Netflix has to offer. Well, unless you factor in Breaking Bad, which is as close to the worst-case scenario of marriage collapse as you can get without actually being in it (while cooking crystal meth). But we decided to go with…
Weren’t the 50s great? Weren’t they? You had soda fountains, Elvis Presley and social media wasn’t even the stuff of science fiction. Wasn’t it better back then? Wasn’t it?
No. No it wasn’t. This was a time when racism was completely acceptable socially. When women could be dismissed with a wave of a hand. When extra-marital affairs weren’t just allowed, they were expected. And it’s in this misogynist, reactionary backlot that Mad Men sets its stall.
But this series is bloody good. While it doesn’t do a hell of a lot to question the morals of the time it’s set in, it tells fantastic stories and makes the audience care – intimately – about its characters. In world where a badly timed tweet can end a career, that’s saying something.
And oh, John Hamm. Oh, you are so handsome…
If you have a Showmax account…
Once again, there is very little to separate the top finishers. Tali’s Wedding is a rather frightening – albeit hilarious – view into how a relationship can be hijacked by a person’s need for self-worth through social media. Taboo is a fantastic series that examines the cut-throat mentality of colonialism. But we went with…
Imagine the most dysfunctional family you’ve ever met. Got that? Now imagine that their jobs require them to be in peak physical condition. Still with us? Now imagine the most joy they get is when they’re able to knock the teeth out of another human being. That’s Kingdom.
Except it’s not. Kingdom is a show based around a family of MMA fighters in a gym, which transcends the trappings of its pitch. Watch this show and you’re in for a world of hurt that reaches beyond cage fighting and dives into drug addiction, sexual assault, alcoholism, body breakdown and pretty much every emotional and physical problem you could imagine. It’s fantastic, but it’s not for the faint-hearted.
[Picture Source: RecycledStarDust]