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02.09.11

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Phaedra
SHE'S NOT THE ONE: No, Charlotte Gainsbourg will not go out with you after your ass gets dumped.

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Ten feel-bad movies to break up to

By Richard von Busack


I am the man who thought it would be a dandy idea to take a shy, ballet-loving high school girl to Papillon. "It means butterfly!" I thought. "A charming Gallic farce!" By the film's end, I was not on speaking terms with her, since she had just witnessed a bloody guillotining, a truckload of Devil's Island prison atrocities and other stuff you don't want to think about when you're nibbling chocolates.

Here are 10 suggestions to make sure your postValentine's Day weekends will be wide open. I have chosen to ignore the usual much-vaunted recent adolescent breakup movies. The films below have adults in them. Messed-up adults. Mean adults. And they'll make you so, so happy to be newly single.

'After Hours' (1985) Just take a look at the poster: a man's head being twisted by a 50-foot woman's painted fingers. Tell me that's not romantic. From dusk until dawn, a fleeing singleton (Griffin Dunne) roams Manhattan, trying to get a date. Such tempting '80s actresses as Terri Garr and Catherine O'Hara only add to his persecution in one of Martin Scorsese's most excruciating films.

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' (1966) An American couple, George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), hit the booze to endure the boredom of living at a cow college. Fortunately, they have a pair of callow young bores to sharpen their claws upon. There's drinking, taunting, braying, airing of grievances, rounds of "Get the Guests" and "Hump the Hostess." Inform that special someone that this is where you hope the two of you will be in 20 years.

'Closer' (2004) Named for a Joy Division album that makes people want to kill themselves, Closer stars a quartet of vicious Londoners, including Natalie Portman as a lying exotic dancer, Julia Roberts showing levels of wrath only her personal assistant had witnessed previously and Clive Owen as a physician who says comforting things like, "Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist, wrapped in blood!"

'Antichrist' (2009) A howling triple-X shocker made by Lars von Trier, who shot the film as a cure for two years of depression. "He" (Willem "I'm being skinned alive again" Dafoe) meets "She" (Charlotte Gainsbourg). After the couple's toddler commits suicide, they head out to a forest of mutant critters for loads of real bad sex and genital mutilation. Chaos reigns—as it certainly will in your car on the way back home.

'Fatal Attraction' (1987) Ultimately, who is more reprehensible: lousy no-good, cheating husbands or bunny-boiling hookups who don't have temporary brains to understand what the three initials "NSA" mean? Answer: both! "I won't allow you to treat me like some slut you can just bang a couple of times and throw in the garbage!" yells Glenn Close, and that's just one mood-settling line that'll ready that special someone for a night of canoodling.

'Irreversible' (2002) Director Gaspar No said that he wanted to put "Vengeance Is Man's Right" on the poster. The middle of the movie is a now-famous 15-minute rape scene. Topic for discussion, while your soon-to-be-ex flees from the multiplex: "How about No's mise-en-scene? Is, then, vengeance a man's right? Can I call you? How about next weekend?"

'Porky's' (1982) Bob Clark's comedy about the wackiest bunch of teens who ever scored a chick separates the men from the women—right there in the theater. Why isn't she laughing at the scene where the gang drills a hole to spy on the girls' locker room? What is she, a virgin?

'Sal', or the 120 Days of Sodom' (1975) One of director Pier Paolo Pasolini's fans asks: "A work of rigorous moral intelligence or a descent into a nightmare of cruelty and lust?" Take the high road: tell your date that anyone who changes the channel on this infamous film is collaborating with the fascists.

'Society' (1989) Some 20 years later after, the old gorge rises recalling the punchline of this Brian Yuzna's dark class-conscious comedy about a group of wealthy Beverly Hills perverts. Guaranteed instant breakup, especially if you're involved with someone who cherishes John Hughes' comedies.

'Shame' (1968) Ingmar Bergman's film starring Liv Ullmann, the kind of self-possessed Viking specimen that makes men curl up and want to hide. What you've got is one unforgettable, beautifully conceived horror story about how a dictatorship cuckolds every man and whores every woman. It's that one date movie you'll want when you only want one date.


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