The End of the Affair
Ralph Fiennes beds a married Julianne Moore during the WWII London blitz until something happens that sends her back to husband Stephen Rea (who’s great, as usual). This second film adaptation of the Graham Greene novel turns spiritual but not cloying—a rare occurrence in Hollywood movies—and there’s intensely erotic sex play at the beginning with classic dialogue: Fiennes and Moore are going at it hot and heavy on her couch when Rea comes home downstairs just as she’s letting out a final yelp of pleasure. Fiennes says, "Do you think he heard us?" Moore calmly replies, "He wouldn’t recognize the sound."
Waking the Dead
Conservative, upwardly mobile politician Billy Crudup falls for bleeding heart liberal Jennifer Connelly then loses her (or does he?) in a mysterious manner that affects the way he looks at himself and his duty to society. Hardly anybody saw this when it came out but it’s one of the more resonant romances of the last decade. Crudup and Connelly play beautifully off one another; an improvised scene between them over the telephone after a wrenching period of separation—he confesses his fear that she won’t like him anymore—is incredibly moving. The film conveys not only the transformative power of love but how we ought to act once we understand we’ve been changed.
All Over the Guy
Dan Bucatinksy (who cowrote the screenplay) and Richard Ruccolo have a relationship but struggle with their emotional baggage (particularly Ruccolo, who’s in AA and can’t get past his family’s dysfunction). Too many films never go near the issue of intimacy—not just sex, but the process of completely revealing yourself to another person. This imperfect comedy/drama from 2001 stays in the mind despite many contrivances because underneath its humor is a comprehension of how scared everybody is, how love is as much a confrontation as it is a connection between two people. The humor works best when it goes for small observations with big payoffs (Bucatinsky can’t focus on their argument the second he hears Ruccolo use the phrase "All’s I know is…"). And you’ll never find a funnier or more touching reconciliation between two men than the Planet of the Apes peace offering at the denouement.