Hollywood has a bad reputation for churning out B-rom coms for Valentine's Day. This year, pour yourself a glass of Pinot, crack open a box of Russell Stover, and treat yourself to a classic throwback or two.
Any film buff will tell you that, over the years, the quality of the genre known as the "Romantic Comedy" has steadily declined. It's only recently that the film industry has made a comeback with gems like "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" or "Crazy Rich Asians."
Nevertheless, if you find yourself craving a rom-com this Valentine's Day and you're at a loss for what to watch, consider traveling back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood, where everything currently considered "romantic cliche" was still unexplored territory.
Kay Francis, Miriam Hopkins, and Herbert Marshall m.media-amazon.com
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Starring: Miriam Hopkins, Herbert Marshall, Kay Francis
This rom-com heist from 1932 stars Hopkins and Marshall as two con artists in love, with Francis playing their latest target. While it's arguably more comedic than romantic, the film centers around a heist, tied together by Hopkins' sheer goofiness, Marshall's wit, and Francis' charm in an uproariously hilarious love triangle.
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert m.media-amazon.com
It Happened One Night (1934)
Starring: Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable
Rarely do romantic comedies win multiple Oscars anymore, but this one took home FIVE major Academy Awards; Colbert won Best Actress for her portrayal of an heiress-turned-runaway bride who seeks the aid of Gable's Peter Warne, a reporter who sees her escapade as the perfect fodder for his next story (the role won him Best Actor). The film also won Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.
Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn m.media-amazon.com
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant
James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Katherine Hepburn, and Cary Grant m.media-amazon.com
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart
Hepburn stars as Tracy Lord, a judgmental socialite and divorcee who - in the chaos surrounding her wedding weekend - finds herself attracted to three different men: her wealthy fiance George, magazine reporter Mike, and ex-husband Dexter. When her mixed emotions threaten to throw her wedding off the rails, Tracy starts to understand the importance of offering a little grace before passing judgment.
James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan m.media-amazon.com
The Shop Around The Corner (1940)
Starring: Margaret Sullivan, James Stewart
Margaret Sullivan and James Stewart play Klara and Alfred, two coworkers who constantly butt heads with each other, all the while not realizing they've been carrying on an anonymous romantic correspondence via letters for months. If the plot of this film sounds a little familiar, that's probably because it was the inspiration for Norah Ephron's "You've Got Mail."
Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn m.media-amazon.com
Woman of the Year (1942)
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy
In this tale of "opposites attract," international affairs journalist Tess and sports writer Sam fall in love against all odds and get married. However, they struggle with the demands of married life - particularly Tess - and argue over whether their careers or their marriage should take precedence. While it sounds somewhat dated, the ending has a surprisingly feminist reconciliation.
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine m.media-amazon.com
The Apartment (1960)
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon
In yet another multi-Academy Award winner, Lemmon and MacLaine star as Bud - a low-level insurance agent - and Fran - the elevator operator in his building - trying to make more out of their stagnant jobs in New York City. Their lives intertwine when Bud lends his apartment to his boss for a fling in exchange for a promotion, only to discover that the mistress is Fran herself. As their paths continue to cross, Bud and Fran begin to question their current pursuit of happiness.
Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn m.media-amazon.com
How To Steal A Million (1966)
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Peter O'Toole
Nicole - the sweet daughter of a successful art forger - finds herself in cahoots with a mysterious and handsome art thief named Simon after he tries to steal one of their paintings. Determined to protect her father, Nicole teams up with Simon to "reclaim" one of her father's fraudulent antiques from a Parisian museum before it can be tested for its authenticity.
Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard m.media-amazon.com
Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard
There is a reason why Audrey starred in so many rom-coms in her day; her undeniable, relentless charm makes her the perfect Holly Golightly, and the perfect foil for Peppard's sullen and serious Paul Varjak. Holly's society-chasing, husband-hunting lifestyle shocks and charms Paul, a struggling writer. The unlikely duo finds that they bring out the best in each other, as Holly forces Paul to enjoy the silly things in life while Paul forces her to pull her head from the clouds every now and again.
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant
The chemistry is hot between translator and fabulous widow Regina Lampert and the mysterious-yet-suspicious Peter Joshua. After the sudden death of her wealthy husband and the disappearance of a large chunk of his fortune, Regina enlists Peter's help in eluding her late husband's former partners-in-crime, while struggling with her mistrust of Peter. While the film certainly has edge-of-your-seat action, the banter between Hepburn and Grant keeps it from turning into a gritty mystery.
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Pro Skater 2, Skate 3, these skating games defined a generation
There was a special thrill that came from watching a pixelated Steve-O ride a mechanical bull through the streets of Barcelona.
From Nigel Beaverhausen to Bigfoot and Shrek, Steve-O was only one of the many crude unlockable characters available in Tony Hawk's Underground 2. Nailing trick combos as ludicrous as "Yee Haw + Acid Drop + grind + bull air," Tony Hawk's Underground 2 was not a game for those who couldn't suspend their disbelief, but that was always the anthology's charm. Kids who followed the series from its birth in 1999 were drawn to the game for its abundance in stupidity; exploring Area 51 in Pro Skater 1 or watching Spider-Man shred across audacious ramps in Pro Skater 2. In Underground 2, we'd send our avatars to the brink of death for no reason other than that it was fun to hear their bones crack.
Skating video games have a special place in the heart of '90s babies, mostly because the last few years have spawned no skater games that truly exemplify the genre's excellence. Pro Skater 5 was one of the most disappointing releases of all time, and 2018's Skate Jam is merely a hollow phone game with awkward controls.
However, hope was recently restored, as EA finally announced Skate 4 back in June. But thanks to COVID, it will be a long time before the project sees the light of day. As skate-enthusiasts continue to wait ever so patiently for Skate 4, let's revisit some of the best skating games that defined countless childhoods.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
While Pro Skater 1 is a certified classic, the nuanced details its sequel added made it one of the greatest video games ever to exist. The graphics were lush for a Playstation game, each of the massive sandbox levels containing minute details like graffiti and hidden areas, and the newly-unveiled create-a-character and skate-park editor modes provided players with an overabundance of customizable features that would go on to define the rest of the series. Playing alongside your friends in your own curated skate park was fantastic, ripping across them in the hopes they'd topple over mid-trick.
The soundtrack, which included a fantastic roster of Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, and Bad Religion, was pure adrenaline. As a majority of game developers turned their attention to the imminent PS2 release, Pro Skater 2 was one of the last great games to honor its predecessor.
Just to clarify, Skate 1 and 2 were fantastic games, the latter just featured a lot of unnecessary bloat, such as the impossible "S.K.A.T.E." mimicry challenges and crap A.I., that distracted from the project's highlights. But for EA's (seemingly) final installation in the series, Skate 3 ditched the excess in favor of what it was known for: fluid, realistic skating mechanics, slick visuals, endless tricks, and fantastic creation tools.
While the game was criticized by some for not bringing anything fresh and new to the table, Skate 3 remains one of the most well-balanced games in the series. It caters to both newcomers and devotees alike. Gone are the security guards who would frustratingly chase you away from government buildings in Skate 2; and instead, as a decorative "pro skater" at the beginning of the game, the world is your oyster. Everywhere is free to explore, which may hinder a certain feeling of progress, but Skate 3 makes up for it with its surprising variety of challenges, sexy visuals, and massive trick catalog–and let us not forget the "Hall of Meat."
Tony Hawk's Underground 2
One can barely call THU 2 a skating game. The single-player campaign opens with your curated avatar being kidnapped by two people in hockey masks. He is brought to a dark room alongside other pro skaters like Bob Burnquist and Eric Sparrow. Bam Margera and Tony Hawk are revealed to be the captors and explain their plan for a "sick-as-hell" around-the-world "World Destruction Tour."
The objective is simple: to travel around the world to pillage and destroy and become a sweet ripper in the process. It's absurd, and the game is often panned by skating buffs for its insanely unrealistic game mechanics.
But for those who don't take themselves too seriously, THU 2 was a rip-roaring good time. It had varietal game modes, copious character creation options, and watching your character snap their board in half after activating the post-trick-fail "freak out" function was a hoot. The game leaned fully into its ridiculousness, and the payoff was rich for those who needed the lighthearted escape.
Praised for being the most authentic skater game ever made, Session is an indie PC gem that shouldn't be played for those looking just to rip around. It follows a similar flick-stick mechanic to the Skate series but is much more difficult. It matches a foot to each stick so that to land a simple kickflip, you have to make sure both sticks do the right flicks.
It's a simple mechanical tweak that makes for a frustrating few hours of gameplay, but for those patient enough to learn a few tricks, the system can make even the simplest manual feel satisfying as hell. Speed, angle, stance, timing, and rotation need to be accounted for if you want to land some tricks, but for those willing to traverse Session's beautiful landscapes, the game is one of the most absorbing skate games in recent memory, and could potentially be as impactful to kids today as Skate was for us.
Because Facebook is for "old people."
In a world where Facebook holds a monopoly on every social interaction we have, it must be hard — to say the least — for other social networks to blossom. But there's one that has only been on the scene about five years, and it's here to stay. And that's Snapchat.
Launched in September 2011 by Stanford grads Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, Snapchat has taken the world by storm. What some thought was a fad that would simply fizzle in a few months has become one of the prime modes of communication.
But for those of you who are still stuck on Facebook, Snapchat is simple — send your friend a pic, and it disappears in 10 seconds or less.
So how has Snapchat become such a giant based on such a simple idea?
Snapchat has become so much more than that simple idea. In December 2012, users could send videos in addition to photos. In October 2013, the My Story feature was activated, meaning users could share their snaps on their "story," where all their followers could see them. And between then and now, Snapchat has added geofilters; face filters; the ability to slow, speed up and reverse videos, and more. Snapchat also acquired Bitstrips in 2016, which makes the Bitmoji app. So users can also send cute cartoons of themselves in their snaps. And when you thought Snapchat couldn't grow any more, it announced its first piece of hardware, Spectacles, this year. These are Snapchat's Google Glass-like glasses, which allow a user to take a video for up to 10 seconds, through their own eyes! Spectacles are on sale for $130 at mysterious Snapchat Bots.
Another feature Snapchat offers is the ability to draw on the photos or videos you create. This feature has spawned countless Snapchat artists, who create cool works of art on their photos (some Snap artists to follow: @Georgio.Copter, @Miologie and @TurbanChino). There are also people who create art using the speed and reverse features, along with the filters, set to music and more (follow @Mcnamurrr to see what I mean).
It's not like other apps.
While Twitter and Instagram were trying to copy Facebook by taking bits and pieces of what Facebook offers, Snapchat came out of nowhere and created its own way of communicating. It's done such an incredible job of doing so that Facebook implemented "stories" for Instagram this year. And now the Facebook Messenger app recently launched what seems to be exactly Snapchat. Users can add festive filters, but on Facebook Messenger, they can also add filters and stickers based on their mood, holidays, etc., which is actually kind of neat. Nevertheless, Snapchat's influence is clear.
It's not just for individuals.
Nowadays, companies, TV shows and news sites are all urging followers to check them out on Snapchat, whether for deals, behind-the-scenes footage or for news. Groupon uses Snapchat to promote daily giveaways and coupon codes. The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon sometimes uses Snapchat to give away free tickets — if you can find their intern first. And almost every news site is integrated into Snapchat's Discover feature, including People, Cosmo and BuzzFeed. Whether or not Snapchat is effectively promoting these organizations is to be seen.
All the cool kids are using it.
There are few people I'm friends with on Facebook who are younger than 18. Do you want to know why? It's for "old people." Nowadays, teens are using Snapchat and Instagram (and god knows what else), and, naturally, teens are a key demographic for social networking sites. More than 100 million people use Snapchat — with their largest demographic being millennials. Good on you, Snap!
It's not exactly replacing anything.
While Snapchat is definitely a competitor for other social networking sites, there are still enough differences between Snapchat and Facebook that Facebook shouldn't have to worry about many users leaving. Snapchat isn't conducive for people to promote big announcements or add large volumes of photos. Meanwhile, people upload hundreds of photos into albums on Facebook. And I don't know about you, but I see most people announcing their engagements and pregnancies quite frequently on Facebook and Instagram.
Maybe Snapchat is peaking now, maybe it'll keep growing or maybe it'll fizzle next year. But no matter what happens, it's here, and it's revolutionizing the way we communicate.
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