Oscar-Nominated God of Love Director Luke Matheny Offers 4 Must-See Films for Valentine's Day

It's hard to remember, but there was a time when romantic comedies weren't viewed with the same contempt as torture porn and Adam Sandler. This is a genre that saw the likes of Preston Struges, Billy Wilder and Woody Allen create some of the most iconic films Hollywood history; now it's a genre overrun by Dennis Dugans and Robert Luketics, filmmakers seemingly content to stomp on whatever happy, "boy meets girl" memories you might have. If the Hollywood machine has got you down in this lead-up to Valentine's Day, there is some hope: Resist buying a ticket for No Strings Attached (or, shiver, Just Go With It) and search out Luke Matheny's God of Love instead.

Matheny wrote, directed and stars in God of Love as Ray, a lovelorn lounge singer who pines for his female drummer, until one day he receives a mysterious package of magical, Cupid-like love darts -- which is convenient since Ray is also an expert at playing darts. Over the course of the whimsical short, relationships are formed and lost, hidden love is revealed, and Ray has a realization about relationships that would make Alvy Singer proud. It's no wonder God of Love was among the five films nominated for Best Live-Action Short by the Academy Awards this year.

God of Love feels at once both wholly original and totally familiar -- the type of romantic comedy that makes you yearn for the romantic comedies of yesterday -- but Matheny isn't all that convinced of his expert needle-threading. "It's kind of you to call the film wholly original," he said in an interview with Movieline. "From my perspective, it feels like I ripped off a ton of stuff -- from Steve Martin, Bob Hope, Woody Allen. Even the line, 'Dear God, whose name I do not know,' I stole from Joe Versus the Volcano. I guess the trick is to borrow so liberally, shamelessly and broadly that the end result becomes something new."

The self-deprecation aside, Matheny said he spent "two years on and off" working on the script for the film, which tackles the knotted theme of romance in a very concise period of time. "I prefer [the short length]," he said. "It means that the story moves quickly and the audience has to pay attention. I'm sure there's a way to do a slow-paced, languorous comedy, but I don't know how."

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, God of Love feels like the type of film that can restore your faith in the once-vibrant genre. In case you don't have time to search it out this weekend -- Love is out in select theaters as part of Shorts International's presentation of all 15 Oscar-nominated shorts; the film package is also available on demand -- Matheny was kind enough to offer Movieline four under the radar Hollywood romances that you'd be wise to watch -- for the first time or again -- in the coming days.

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