Valentine’s Day: the unofficial holiday when people have our involuntary permission to act giddy and shower their significant others with “mountains of affection,” a.k.a. presents. Don’t call me bitter—I’m actually a romantic—but February 14 is NOT about all this saliva-provoking sentimentality. Everyone’s forgotten by now about its true origins and about poor Saint Valentine’s act of compassion that prompted a day dedicated to love. Valentine’s Day is a time for stomach-clenching dread, not high anticipation. Especially when the rest of us who do not celebrate it have to enter any store or public place. Hearts, pink and red, covering the walls. More hearts surrounding every tangible surface. Oh, the horror. But it gets worse. Much, much worse. February 14 turns out to be a day of expectation, not motivation.
I first heard about the 2016 film “Dear Eleanor” via YouTube ads. Whoever created the trailer did a fine job, because I was determined to sit down and dedicate 2 hours of my life to watching the actual movie. New releases are increasingly difficult to take a chance on, as storytelling skills steadily worsen across the movie industry, but I found myself curious this time.
The original “Dirty Dancing” from 1987 was a remarkable blend of dancing, music, and story. It was eye-catching, sassy, and despite glaring anachronisms (such as the discrepancy between the film’s soundtrack and the time period setting), appropriate for all contemporary audiences. Unfortunately, Hollywood seems to have “gone off on a limb” with remakes during the past 15 or so years. Instead of retelling familiar stories with the intention of bring new, fresh interpretations to the screen, producers and writers have concocted point-blank failures that have attracted more negative than positive attention, their current marketing strategy. I’ve seen one remake after another generate terrible reviews from critics and viewers alike, both complaining about the same issue: “these new versions have no soul.” That may be true overall, but that doesn’t mean that some of these films can’t present new perspectives.