Constance Wu and Henry Golding star in “Crazy Rich Asians.” Warner Bros.

Movies and Valentine’s Day go together like presents that come from the heart and not supporting a Hallmark holiday by buying mandatory, disposable tchotchkes to show the person you supposedly love that your love is quantifiable. Seriously, what’s better on the big, romantic night than a home-cooked (or home-delivered) meal on the couch in front of some of your co-favorite romantic movies?

The thing is, there are only so many times you can watch the handful of actually decent romances, rom-coms and other movies whose descriptions start with “rom-” before they lose their power to induce snuggling. (For those not on board with that idea, might I suggest a Valentine’s Eve screening of “Titanic” at Cinemagic in South Portland, for when you really want to watch your loved ones freeze to death.) Luckily, at my house, we have a relationship-long tradition of V-Day horror movie marathons, but I recognize that not everyone’s significant other is as cool and weird as mine. So here are some unconventional, indie and just plain refreshing alternative Valentine’s Day picks.

“Only Lovers Left Alive.” Speaking of the unending love between two weirdos, there’s no bond more eternal than that between two vampires, and this typically deadpan-brilliant comedy romance from indie god Jim Jarmusch shows just how to keep love alive when you’ve been alive longer than the United States. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston might be Marvel heroes now, but they’re even better vampires, undying aesthete spouses brought together in modern-day Detroit by Hiddleston’s ennui-engendered plan to end his life of layabout virtuosity. (His brilliant rock music compositions are released anonymously on blank, black vinyl.) There’s just a bit of judiciously deployed vampire lore – they drink blood bought from a suspicious lab tech, Hiddleston orders a single, wooden bullet for the deed from his hipster Renfield (the late Anton Yelchin) – but the film is mainly the story of keeping it fresh when you’ve read, seen, heard and invented everything. With a delicious turn by the also-late John Hurt, as a historical figure pal whose identity I wouldn’t spoil in a dozen lifetimes. 

Availability: The Portland Public Library’s got the DVD; stream on Amazon Prime, Starz, Tubi.

“Crazy Rich Asians.” See? I’m not all about monster-love, as this 2018 surprise success romance is essentially everything you could ask for in the fairytale movie romance department. Gorgeous scenery (you’ll want to book your romantic getaway to Singapore), gorgeous people (“Fresh Off The Boat’s” Constance Wu is a star, while fiancé Henry Golding is what Prince Charming would have looked like if old Hollywood ever employed Asian people), eye candy aplenty (again – the food stall scenes alone will have you on a plane), requisite wackily endearing supporting characters (Awkwafina and Ken Jeong, stealing scenes), and the sort of high-gloss rom-com obstacles that the best American romantic movies traffic in, as Golding’s mega-rich family (led magnetically by the great Michelle Yeoh) is suspicious of Asian-American Wu because she’s only a brilliant and respected NYU professor. And while Netflix offered to pick up distribution of this modestly budgeted indie production, the filmmakers wanted to show that an all-Asian rom-com could succeed theatrically. Which it did, big time. If you’re going to go big romance, then go big.

Availability: DVD at the library; streaming on Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Cinemax Go. 

“Obvious Child.” Relationships are messy in the best of circumstances, but getting unexpectedly pregnant after a first-date tryst with a nice guy you might really like puts the prospect of a happily-ever-after seemingly more out of reach than normal. That’s the position aspiring stand-up comic Jenny Slate finds herself in, in director-writer Gillian Robespierre’s acclaimed and intelligently funny indie sort-of romance about how real life isn’t all meet-cutes and rich, disapproving families. Slate practically glows as the very modern, independent woman whose decision to have an abortion (inconveniently scheduled on Valentine’s Day) makes for the sort of dilemma that would have been solved with a timely miscarriage or a long-suffering life of shame and toil in the old Hollywood. Here, Robespierre non-judgmentally allows Slate’s Donna to examine her life and make a choice, while nice guy Jake Lacy, too, is left to process this major – if not uncommon – early-relationship issue like an adult. 

Availability: DVD at the PPL; stream it on Netflix, Hoopla, Kanopy.

“Punch Drunk Love.” With Adam Sandler once more receiving Oscar buzz (no, really) for “Uncut Gems,” here’s the first film where people took notice of just what the goofball former “SNL” star could do in a movie when he decides to try. An early film from now-revered director Paul Thomas Anderson (“Phantom Thread,” “The Master,” “There Will Be Blood”), this eccentric romance sees high-strung, depressive entrepreneur Sandler falling for winsome Emily Watson, whose reciprocated attraction hints that Sandler’s lonely existence may be at an end. But then there are these four goons sent by a mattress store owner/sex line operator (the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman), a car crash, Sandler’s mean sisters, and all this pudding. (It’s a long story.) This woozy, weird and decidedly wonderful romance is shot in Anderson’s signature meticulous manner, the soundtrack pulsing in and out with, of all things, Shelley Duvall’s (as Olive Oyl) dippy love ballad from the live-action “Popeye.” Movie love comes in strange and wonderful packages. 

Availability: The Library; streaming on HBO Now, Hoopla, and Amazon Prime. 

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