Counterprogramming Cupid

Free ways to stick it to Valentine's Day


Tod Browning's Dracula debuted in theatres on Valentine's Day, 1931, billed as "the Strangest Love Story of All" – and yeah, sure, the film had heart, but mostly it was about sticking a stake in it. Speaking for all single people, we like the idea. So, too, does the Austin Public Library; the Hampton Branch (5125 Convict Hill Rd.) will be showing a free screening of the Bela Lugosi classic at 6pm on Valentine's Day.

It's a date the single portion of the populace comes to annually dread – the flowers, the candy hearts, the Hallmark cards, all the pretty speeches about love. The great thing about silent movies? No talking. Rob Mermin knows a thing or two about keeping mum; he studied mime with Marcel Marceau in addition to being the former dean of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Okay, technically, he'll be moving his mouth at his free lecture Silents Are Golden: A Celebration of Silent Cinema, which takes place Feb. 14 at 4pm at the Prothro Theater at the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas campus.

While you're on campus, you might want to take a walk – good for quiet contemplation! – over to the southeast lawn of the College of Fine Arts' Art Building (23rd and Trinity). That's where you'll find the ongoing video installation "Fade In," a collection of animation curated by UT Radio-Television-Film lecturer Geoff Marslett. Marslett selected more than 40 pieces to be projected onto the windows of the Visual Arts Center nightly through March 12, with contributions from the likes of Don Hertzfeldt, Emily and Georgia Hubley, Lance Myers, and Marslett himself. And on the subject of Marslett: His terrific animated sci-fi/action/comedy hybrid Mars will screen on Feb. 16 as part of the Austin Film Society's Best of the Fests series (see Special Screenings). Fair warning: It starts out as a lost-love story about a sentient robotic rover, but then tilts into a more predictable but still awfully plucky love match between two astronauts.

Maybe it's a fool's errand trying to avoid love – it comes at you from every corner. Maybe you should stare it straight in the face and just dare the damn thing to try to work its wiles on you, generalissimos of the blackhearts brigade. In that case, we can think of no greater contest than the Austin Cinematheque's free screening of In the Mood for Love, quite possibly the swooniest picture show of the last decade (see Special Screenings). It came out in 2001, but Wong Kar-Wai's romancer is set in 1962 Hong Kong, in smoky close quarters and seductive noodle shops. When a married man (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and a married woman (Maggie Cheung) realize their spouses are furtively affairing with each other, the cuckolds grow close. How close? We're not telling – but we will say that in Wong Kar-Wai's bitter-pill sequel, 2046, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai's character sniffs that "Love is all a matter of timing." If we were romantics – and that's a big if – we'd take Tony at his word and think maybe, just maybe, the timing could be right for two like-minded blackhearts to find each other in the theatre-dark on the loneliest – sorry, we meant loviest – day of the year.

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More Valentine's Day
What’cha Watchin’?
What’cha Watchin’?
Screengrabs from the Chronicle staff

Feb. 9, 2018

Wine of the Week
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Valentine's Day, Dracula, Rob Merwin, Silents Are Golden: A Celebration of Silent Cinema, Fad In, Geoff Marslett, Mars, Best of the Fests, In the Mood for Love, Austin Cinematheque, Wong Kar-Wai

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