Big Screen Romances: 8-Movie Collection [2 Discs] [DVD]

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The Luzhin Defence
A lush historical drama from Dutch director Marlene Gorris, The Luzhin Defense is set in Como, a gorgeous northern Italian lakeside town located at the foot of the Alps. The year is 1929, and Alexander Luzhin (John Turturro) is a talented Russian chess player travelling to Como by train for the World Chess Championship. Also on his train is Natalia (Emily Watson), who is journeying to Como to meet her mother Vera (Geraldine James) at their posh lakeside hotel. Vera wants Natalia to settle down with the right -- meaning rich -- man, and duly tries to set her up with Jean (Christopher Thompson), a French count. However, Natalia instead sets her sights on Luzhin, who returns her affections, and the two embark on an unusual and unpredictable love affair. Adapted from one of Vladimir Nabokov's lesser-known novels, The Luzhin Defense also features the talents of Mark Tandy and Kelly Hunter as Luzhin's parents -- seen in flashback -- and Orla Brady as his young aunt. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi

This is My Father
Paul Quinn scripted and made his directorial debut with this period drama about middle-aged schoolteacher Kieran Johnson (James Caan), who finds evidence indicating that his real father was an Irish farmer and not a French seaman as he had been told. Since his mute and paralyzed mother offers no answers, he investigates by traveling to an Irish village with his teenage nephew (Jacob Tierney). After this prologue, the film flashes back to the family roots: Kieran's mother Fiona Flynn (Moya Farrelly) back home from convent school, catches the eye of dirt tenant farmer Kieran O'Day (Aidan Quinn). Their romance gets underway despite disapprovals from family and friends. Shown at 1998 film fests (Montreal, Toronto). ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

This comedy is set upon a remote Greek island and is very loosely based on Shakespeare's classic play. The tale centers on a middle-aged New York architect who abandons his wife and moves to the island with his teen-age daughter and his new lover, a Greek singer, in hopes of finding meaning in his life. The only resident of the island is an old hermit, and the father is finally happy until his wife, her lover, his son and others get in a shipwreck and end up marooned on the island with him. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Modern Romance
Opening well past the point favored by most romantic comedies, director/co-writer/star Albert Brooks' take on the genre begins with a breakup. After exchanging harsh words in a diner, Brooks and Kathryn Harrold go their separate ways. Brooks then spends the next few days attempting to forget his troubles through work, exercise, drugs, and other women, torturing himself at each step. While it's hinted early on that this isn't the couple's first breakup, it eventually becomes clear that the they have cycled through the same events for even longer than expected. Meanwhile, Brooks' character, a film editor assisted by Bruno Kirby, attempts to put the finishing touches on his latest assignment, a none-too-promising space adventure starring George Kennedy and helmed by a details-obsessed director (James L. Brooks). ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi

Violets Are Blue
This small-town romance may be trying to ride the coattails of the Big Chill that also featured Kevin Kline. Kline plays Henry here, and when the film opens he and his love Gussie Sawyer (Sissy Spacek, wife of director Jack Fisk), are sitting together planning the future they will have. She will be a flight attendant and he will get a college degree. Yet when they part, so does their destiny. By a quirk of fate, Gussie starts taking photos for an in-flight magazine and ends up an ace photographer while Henry has stayed in their small town to run the newspaper after his dad died. When Gussie comes back for a vacation 15 years later the two old sweethearts find that the embers that burned so low over the last many years are heating up again. No one in the town is unaware of what is going on, and Gussie is in for a lecture from her dad while Henry hears it like it is from his wife. But will that change the course of their relationship? ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

The Man Who Loved Women
This remake of François Truffaut's 1977 comedy misses out on Truffaut's subtext that delves into the nature of love and instead simply recounts the sexual and romantic exploits of David, a sculptor who is an incurable womanizer (Burt Reynolds). In order to come to grips with his obsession for women, David goes to see a psychiatrist, Marianna (Julie Andrews), and sure enough, she later joins him on the couch. His tale is told by Marianna, as flashbacks reveal their relationship and other loves of David's life, most notably Louise (Kim Basinger), a married woman hooked on intimacy in odd, if not dangerous, places. In all these relationships, David is as much attracted to the women as they are to him. Unfortunately, with flat dialogue and uninspired comedy, David fares better than the film as a whole. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

No Small Affair
This run-of-the-mill teen romantic comedy's main attraction is 22-year-old Demi Moore as Laura Victor, an aspiring rock singer. The slightly younger Jon Cryer is Charles Cummings, a dedicated photographer who meets Laura, falls in love, and decides that a dedication to furthering her career might further his own amorous designs. Charles is essentially a loser when it comes to women -- and just about anything else except photography. One day Charles captures Laura on film along a San Francisco seashore and is shocked but excited to run into her later while at a North Beach nightclub where she is a performer. Unable to just let her go, he finally convinces her to pose for him, and as a result of that session he comes up with one good photo which he then puts on nearly 200 San Francisco cabs -- using up all his savings in the process. The result consists of offers that have nothing to do with singing -- until one exception occurs. Another new face in the crowd in this conventional movie is Jennifer Tilly (younger sister of Meg Tilly and Oscar-nominated for her role in Bullets Over Broadway), working in her first film. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

Based on a series of Rolling Stone articles by Aaron Latham, this romance was set in the world of L.A.'s hip fitness scene. Rolling Stone reporter Adam Lawrence (John Travolta) comes to L.A. to write a story about a prominent businessman who's been arrested for drug dealing (shades of the John DeLorean scandal). He's also decided to research a piece on the exercise fad and how health clubs have become the "singles bars of the '80s." His boss (real-life Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner as himself) OK's the project. At a club called The Sports Connection, an incognito Adam meets the regulars, including promiscuous Linda (Laraine Newman), airhead Sally (Marilu Henner) and aerobics instructor Jessie (Jamie Lee Curtis), a former Olympic swimmer. Adam and Jessie begin a romance, but it ends when she discovers that he's there to trash her and the club in print. Conflicted, Adam wrestles with publishing the story, but the final decision isn't his. A director of sincere, sober dramas, James Bridges was an odd choice to helm the romantic Perfect (1985), widely considered one of the decade's notorious cinematic misfires. Bridges had enjoyed much greater success with his previous collaboration with Travolta, Urban Cowboy (1980). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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