Turn Off the Turn-Offs: Movies To Mack To

By  · Published on August 30th, 2016

Dear FSR

Planning dates to beat commercial breaks.

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

Once upon a time in my youth, a date and I were getting a bit hot and heavy while the TV was on. Everything was great until Mrs. Doubtfire came on. Total mood-killer. What are some movies (nothing gross) that make good background fodder – specifically for more…romantic situations?


Chastised Channel Changer

Dear Chastised,

It’s an awkward situation isn’t it, choosing the right media somewhere between intense aphrodisiac and cinematic cold shower? Unlike just putting on a record and lighting some candles, there’s no clear-cut answer on what could help you put the moves on a partner (the correct answer for music is Miguel’s song “The Valley” or anything Prince ever recorded).

Another factor to consider is the planning stage for visual accompaniment: we’re all mostly just putting something on to have it on, not to create ambiance. Nevertheless, there are certain qualities that will stomp out any sparks like Smokey Bear (a crossdressing Robin Williams is one of them).

You don’t want anything too funny that might drop a zinger so deft that you can’t help but laugh at an inopportune moment. You don’t want anything you watched as a kid, or anything too innocent. If a Miyazaki character is embracing the wonders of childhood innocence, it’s no time for love, Dr. Jones.

So, for your consideration, five movies worth watching that won’t undermine your date:

1. The Duke of Burgundy

A quiet film with loud emotions, The Duke of Burgundy goes deep into relationships as a whole with very specific tools. Meticulously written and shot, the film delivers truly timeless commentary on the expectations and realities of love, especially the sacrifices and consolations made for each other, through the lens of two female lepidopterists. Their dominant-submissive intimacy, while deeply affecting and intense on its own, contains prismatic multitudes that encourage its viewers’ adaptation and transmogrification of its broad theme of open communication. It also happens to be sultry as hell.

2. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Sure, some people might die in this vampire movie. But it’s no Hellraiser. No blood, guts, or rudely interrupting screams to harsh your vibe. Only gorgeous cinematography in a smart, sad film. It’s almost a Persian-American black & white giallo (sleazy Italian slasher) but with less gushing blood and more quiet underworld thoughtfulness. Its soundtrack, great actresses, and excellent cat can’t help but make you simultaneously feel dangerous and intrigued.

3. The Fountain

A complete romantic mindfuck, The Fountain is a metaphysical exploration of death through time travel and gorgeous audio-visuals so deft that you could show it to someone clueless about the English language and they’d still probably think it was great.

That said, it’s not that big of a deal if you end up missing some plot points here and there (wink, wink) because you’ll come back to the same beauty you left.

4. Requiem For A Dream – just kidding, don’t do that. What I mean is:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim may be an extremely funny movie, but it’s also an extremely charming one that is downright sensual at times. Its main romances may be inherently flawed but that doesn’t mean you have to project it onto yours, right? Its mix of colorful visuals, oscillating musical tempos, and general feel-good vibe means that even if you’re not paying attention you’ll still be in the same room as all the ingredients for a good time.

5. The Lord of the Rings (any)

Here’s the thing with this trilogy: they’re long. They’re all long. Some may argue that they’re perfectly long, some may even argue for the extended editions. But if you and your intended romancée are on the same wavelength, it can be nice to have some fun, reset, and then finish a comfortable movie that doesn’t expect too much from you. The ends of the all the Lord of the Rings films are excellent (including the four or five endings of Return of the King) so even if you end up missing most of the film, you’ll still be back in time for some good parts.

Be safe and demand enthusiastic consent AND content,


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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).