All About Love: A&E’s Valentine’s Day Picks

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, A&E writers share their favorite pieces of media about love of all kinds.
All About Love: A&E’s Valentine’s Day Picks

 

Mitski and Love in the Last Days on Earth

Heartbreak remains an epicenter of our culture’s fascinations, and in recent years, no artist conveys this as identifiably as Mitski Miyawaki. From the unrequited love lingering in “Bury Me at Makeout Creek” to the loneliness exuded throughout “Be The Cowboy,” Mitski has accumulated a penchant for the prose of the depressed poet, and often evokes tangible misery or bitterness within those who listen and follow her. 

But just this once, she became a poet of joy. 

“The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” tracks across the American frontier, rustic whiskey bars punctured with moonlit, suburban snowfall, eventually becoming unbounded as we gaze towards the moon, stars, and what lies beyond. Mitski leans into country roots with lone violins and twangy guitars, evoking Fordian Americana, encapsulating a search of the soul, sifting through the loneliness and entrapment prevalent in her previous works, all while emanating an apocalyptic anxiousness. The kaleidoscope of unfamiliar musical palettes on display reflect that road trip of the mind: juxtapositions of doubt and self-loathing with hope and happiness. Lyrically and musically, it’s deeply earnest, whether through selfless love expressed in the now-infamous “My Love Mine All Mine,” or through repression and exhaustion present in “When Memories Snow” and “I Don’t Like My Mind,” or gratitude of having ever loved in “Star.” 

Whilst somewhat familiar in thematic resonance, there’s something lighter and more malleable to how Mitski presents her music in “The Land Is Inhospitable,” a willingness to accept change and be self-reflexive, rather than being the dense nexuses of emotion where feelings never leave their cocoon. After coming to terms and accepting herself, the final tune’s sound returns to something harsher, akin to her other songs “Texas Reznikoff” or “I Bet on Losing Dogs,” with Mitski’s ultimate declaration to Planet Earth in “I Love Me After You”: Take Care of Yourself, and let yourself be happy. Even if the world ends, do just that. 

And so, even for the lonely romantics, though Mitski does not leave us to yearn, she nudges towards a self-love and embracing of one’s identity — to sit with loneliness, as it is still time spent with the world. That to give love, to have loved, to be in love, is special. Even long after we are gone, the moonlight will reflect the days of roses and kindness we show to others, and to ourselves. Buy yourself flowers. You deserve them. 

-Matthew Pham, Contributing Writer

Image courtesy of Miami New Times

 

“Love Wins All” – IU

“Dearest, darling, my universe”

On a day filled with love, in a time where you and your lover are the only souls existing in this endless infinity, there is nothing out there that could defeat what you share. How easy it is to forget what is happening in this world and leave for another one with your soulmate by your side. Sometimes, you wish that the seconds ticking by on the clock would freeze forever, leaving this cherishable moment to last for eternity. Would happiness this long remain constant for eternity? Would you soon tire of that joy and begin to yearn for a taste of sorrow, just to remember why you’re holding on to this moment? 

Korean singer and actress IU’s “Love Wins All,” released just over two weeks ago, encapsulates the reckless freedom of how far one goes to treasure that love and remain forever in its embrace. For time to stop, for worlds to end, is nothing but a blessing for those who yearn for it. The song’s emotional music video, featuring BTS’s V, leads viewers through a heartbreaking story of a couple’s last escape from a post-apocalyptic world. Caught in a world where survival means silence, IU and V communicate through sign language as they trace back the steps of what was once a normal world. Through the lens of an old camcorder, IU becomes young and healthy again, donning a bridal gown as she dances and takes photos with V in his own wedding attire. While the music video ends fatally, the highlight of this song is displayed through the sheer happiness between IU and V before they meet their tragic fate. It is the excitement of eating tasty food with your lover, the joy in holding them close with sweeping music in the background, the comfort of having them in your arms as the world ceases to exist. Above all, love wins through prejudice, darkness, and hate. 

On this day, let yourself detach from this tiny planet. Let yourself wander to the endless expanse of stars as you hold your loved ones close and think, just for a moment, of how sacred it is for such happiness to exist. Hold on to that joy. 

-Erika Myong, Staff Writer

Image courtesy of X.com

 

“Whisper of the Heart”

Our newfound Valentine’s Day classic “Whisper of the Heart,” a Japanese film, follows Shizuku Tsukishima as she explores her passion for writing and navigates the intricacies of junior high romance. When Shizuku notices that a fellow student, Seiji Amasawa, has previously checked out all the books she has, she embarks on a journey to uncover his identity, hoping he will resemble who she has imagined. Though casual viewers of Studio Ghibli may associate the studio with the fantastical, “Whisper of the Heart” remains largely rooted in the realities of adolescence. The discomfort in confessing one’s feelings, the grand proclamations of love, and unwanted love triangles lead the viewer to reminisce upon their own crushes that seemed to overshadow all else. 

“Whisper of the Heart” is full of childlike aspiration and budding passions. Only when Shizuku drafts her novel do the elements of fantasy come into play, emphasizing the power of creativity to transform reality. Although Shizuku is full of stress while writing, the thought of Seiji pursuing his own artistic dreams, and the knowledge of his unending support, grounds her and encourages her to finish the draft. 

Before directing “Whisper of the Heart,” Yoshifumi Kondō was the animation director for many Studio Ghibli films like “Princess Mononoke” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” With close experience working with Studio Ghibli and success in “Whisper of the Heart,” Kondō was set to become the successor of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata until his untimely death in 1998. Still, we are fortunate to have a small piece of Kondō’s work.

Matthew: I particularly enjoyed the small awkward moments between the students, and the cat who wandered around through the city. The cat’s presence created such a welcoming feeling of repose for both me and the characters, from the hectic events surrounding them. 

Xuan: My favorite part was when Shizuku first learns of Seiji’s love for violin-making and his talent for playing. After some convincing, Seiji agrees to play for her on the condition that she sings along. As the two get lost in the music, Seiji’s grandfather and his friends come down and seamlessly join in with their own instruments, creating the most beautiful medley of strings. 

From reading books together in the library to petting the wandering cat, “Whisper of the Heart” depicts love in the most gentle of ways. 

– Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor and Matthew Risley, Senior Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Movie Mezzanine

 

“Mamma Mia!”

Underneath “Mamma Mia!”’s electric renditions of classic ABBA songs, there is an undeniable layer of love ranging from romantic, platonic, and the ultimate killer: the love between mother and daughter. Over the many times I’ve watched “Mamma Mia!” — and I mean many — I can never make it through Donna (Meryl Streep) and Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) duet of “Slipping Through My Fingers” without tears. 

The movie begins with a ballad as Sophie drops three envelopes into a mailbox. With her wedding fast approaching, Sophie hatches a plan to find her father. Using her mother’s diary, Sophie narrows down the possibilities to three men and invites them all. But, it all goes south when Sophie’s mother, Donna, finds the men from her past hiding in the goat house and tries to drive them away from the island. 

What begins with wedding invitations unfolds to become an examination of lost love, friendship, and newfound connections. From cheeky numbers like “Lay All Your Love on Me” to remembrances of the past in “Our Last Summer,” “Mamma Mia!” is overflowing with love of the past, present, and future. But, perhaps my favorite expression of love in the movie, and the most entertaining, is found between Donna and Sophie’s closest friends. And while the two groups of friends are a generation apart, their interactions mirror each other in their gossip, biting jokes, and the comfort they provide. 

If you’re looking for a fun watch with the right amount of sappiness (and goats), or if you just want to indulge in the landscape of a tiny island in Greece, “Mamma Mia!” is perfect for this Valentine’s Day. 

– Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor

Image courtesy of People magazine

 

“Jerry Maguire”

Hello, dear reader, we meet again. It was only yesterday that we saw Tom Cruise in worlds beyond that of espionage and Miramar sunsets. Throughout the 90s, Tom Cruise’s star power was ever-evolving, and paired with the power-couple status of him and then-wife Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise was the king of the movies at the twilight of the millennium. Yet a movie star’s power can only be measured in one manner: Have they starred in a romantic comedy/drama? Fortunately, Tom Cruise headlined the best of them all: “Jerry Maguire.”

A radical hybridization of the uber-masculine cultural touchstone that is American Football, crossed with an intense desire to discover what it means to truly be intimate, “Jerry Maguire” is an alchemical concoction that theoretically should topple under its identity dichotomy. The film follows Jerry Maguire (Cruise), a sports agent desiring to build more personal relationships with his clients, in particular Football Wide Receiver Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), as romance buds between him and co-worker Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger). Small gestures, from the goodbye-two finger salute between our leads at an airport, to the radiant smiles and laughs exhibited as Jerry and Dorothy call each other, to how Jerry kisses Dorothy’s forehead, do so well as to make everything feel rosy. There’s turbulence throughout, but it’s all worth it in the end. Crowe’s script is as reaffirming and sincere as they come; with so many good one-liners, one knows that TriStar Pictures immediately showed Crowe the money. Particularly, the climax of the film has the power to melt the world five thousand times over. Cruise has never been more tender and sweet, and it’s undeniable that Renée Zellweger is one of the most beautiful screen presences of our times. 

Rod Tidwell’s journey is effectively a mirror to Jerry’s, as Tidwell chases the career success Jerry once had, and Jerry navigates what it means to truly know someone. There’s something poignant to how sweetly their platonic relationship accumulates, to where it becomes as unbreakable and unwavering as Dorothy and Jerry’s romantic bond. But it’s all a testament to the fact that relationships are not a compromise, they’re a work in progress, forever. Even if the beginning is shaky, the endgame will be beautiful. Whether celebrating Valentine’s day, or reveling in the Super Bowl, “Jerry Maguire” is food for the heart, and comes heartily recommended.

But hopefully, I already had you at hello. 

-Matthew Pham, Contributing Writer

Image courtesy of IMDb

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About the Contributors
Matthew Risley, Senior Staff Writer
I mostly write about film. Some of my favorite directors are Jean-Luc Godard, Wong Kar-wai, Tsai Ming-liang, and Andrei Tarkovsky.
Erika Myong, Staff Writer
Erika Myong is a third-year political science and literature writing student. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading the latest books or decorating her weekly planner.
Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor
Xuan is a third-year global health major and art history minor. She loves seahorses, laying on the grass, and anything by Ocean Vuong.

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