Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's hear it for the boy('s movies)!

I recall a conversation I had with my friends in Physics lessons last year about Fight Club and how I used to continually go on and on about how I didn’t care for it. Wondering if this is because it’s considered a “lad’s” movie, and that I have quite girly taste in films, I thought I’d compile a list of movies for men that I do enjoy.

Half today, half another day when computer stop crashing.

In alphabetical order:

Bad Boys I & II (Michael Bay, 1995 & 2003)
No? But they’re like, so fun, people! Will Smith & Martin Lawrence are the odd couple Mike & Marcus, a stylish pretty boy with a nice car and a family man, who have 72 hours to retrieve $100 million worth of stolen heroin. Cue a couple of truly thrilling (albeit brainless) action sequences, featuring car chases, shoot-em-ups and a heavy dosage of style over substance. The two leads are likeable enough with genuine chemistry and there’s some witty banter between them. It won’t trouble MENSA, but it does offer lightweight entertainment on days when one doesn’t feel like bothering to read the subtitles on a Fellini film. The second film offers much of the same, except being even more violent and adult (yet rated 15 as opposed to the original’s 18… showing that the bbfc have no consistency), and with a louder blaxploitation soundtrack. Lil’ tidbit: the Bad Boys II OST was the first soundtrack I brought.

Casino (Martin Scorsese, 1995)
Starring his bessies De Niro and Pesci, edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and featuring themes of corruption and betrayal, Casino has the makings of a typical Martin Scorsese crime drama. But bunged in as well this time is a woman. Or, to be more precise, Sharon Stone, proving that she can act, in a career-best as wag-ish showgirl Ginger McKenna, whom Sam (De Niro) is trying to persuade to marry him, at the same time as Nicky comes into town with an agenda of his own that threatens to ruin the party.

Three hours is a long time by any stretch of the imagination and admittedly, the movie does drag towards the end. But you’re on constant alert throughout the film, whether it be due to the foul language (398 usages of the f-word, bb), painfully sadistic violence (Joe Pesci shows us the more experimental usages of a vice) or just Pesci’s unsettling presence in general. Having a woman in the film really complicates things, making stakes much higher and the three leads are all impeccable. A brutal, disturbing but completely compelling depiction of the choices we make and the deals we do, you can bet your copy of Goodfellas that Casino is a damn good movie.

Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004)
Along with Dogville, one of the films that makes me despair at the human race. It tells the story of a soldier (played by Paddy Considine), who returns to his hometown to extract revenge on the group of bullying shits that had messed with his mentally-slow brother years ago. Dead Man’s Shoes has been called a slasher movie, and indeed, there’s disturbing bloody violence a plenty, but what unsettled me more was the treatment of the group of people towards Anthony, the mentally
handicapped boy. Those scenes were just so painful to watch and I wanted to kill the characters that were picking on them. I felt a great sense of justice when they eventually did die their slow and darkly comic deaths. The killing scenes are executed with such sterile aggressiveness that I was terrified throughout, but Considine’s performance completely carries the movie; without him, it may have just begun to sink into farce. Oh, and the revelation of truth at the end? I bawled like a baby. And it felt so cathartic to do so, after a litany of killing, to cry for the death of a character that I actually cared about.

Face/Off (John Woo, 1997)
A convoluted thriller starring John Travolta as an FBI agent who decides to “become” comatose criminal Nic Cage in order to discover the whereabouts of a bomb he has planted. Slightly daft, but great fun, with a pretty underrated cast involving John Travolta, Nicolas Cage (even if they don’t look anything like another), Joan Allen (elegantly wonderful as ever), Alessandro Nivola (hot), Gina Gershon (weird) and Dominique Swain (she played Lolita, thus, rules). And John Woo sure does know how to direct a rollickingly good action sequence!

Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003-2004)
The first time I heard of Kill Bill was when one of my friends told me about it, and I’d laughed. “Kill Bill?”, I’d scoffed, “That sounds like Like Mike!” Soon though, I found that having a rhyme in the title that these two films had in common. I saw the trailer of Kill Bill for the first time before Pirates of the Caribbean, and I was just blown away by how cool it looked, what with Battle without Honour or Humanity playing coolly underneath and all the quick-editing. I knew then that I had to see Kill Bill Vol. 1, and see it I did, on pirate DVD with my dad, and we both loved it. I became so obsessed with Kill Bill Vol. 1 that I used to walk around with a branch of a tree, imagining it was a samurai sword, I went round calling everyone “bitch” like they did, and anytime we had a school project that required backing music, Battle without… would be my track of choice.

The films themselves are good too, naturally. Uma Thurman kicks serious ass, the soundtrack is drool-worthy, and blink & you'll miss some of the uber-quick, hyperkinetic fight scenes. Plus, I personally adored the more "humane" strand in Vol.2, showing for once, that QT's inventions do have a heart. The look of maternal warmth in Bea's eyes when cuddling her daughter to the tune of McLaren's "About Her" is Tarantino's finest moment, in my opinion.

Mean Machine (Barry Skolnick, 2001)
Vinnie Jones showing that he can be likeable, he plays disgraced ex-footballer Danny Meehan who, falling discoveries that he was involved in match-fixing, falls from grace even further when he’s sent to prison for assaulting a police officer. Inside, pretty much everyone bar the odd football nut treats him like dirt. That’s until he puts together a game of cons vs. guards and suddenly everyone wants to be on his team, to prove to the guards that they’re not as useless as they’re continually told they are.

The first half of the movie, outlining Danny’s arrival at the prison and life inside it, is appropriately gritty, with all your typical British colloquialisms bunged about left, right and centre. All the clich├ęs are there; Danny getting attacked, drug-dealing inmates, corrupt governors, etc. The second half revolves around the beautiful game, and the big match is filmed beautifully, with brilliant fouls thrown in, the type of fouls that would have present day footballers rolling around on the ground as if they’d been amputated. Danny’s team are winning at half-time, but then the governor, desperate for them to lose so he can make a profit from gambling, blackmails him with a longer sentence and Danny is forced to consider what means more to him – his personal freedom, or the spirits of his teammates. Not quite The Shawshank Redemption with footie, nor Bend it Like Beckham set in a prison, but terrific fun nonetheless.

So that was me. Feel free to share some men's movies you girls like, or vice versa.


Kayleigh said...

Is Kill Bill a boy's movie? It's very feminist in it's actions but I love it. I'd say Pulp Fiction was Tarantino's most testosterone fuelled film. I love From Dusk Till Dawn, Tomb Raider and From Hell (it's not the ideal girly movie unless you count the scene of Johnny Depp in the bath).

Emma said...

Good point, it isn't, really. I should have realised that as soon as I was writing about Uma Thurman's character's "maternal instincts"... :D Oh well, I just wanted an excuse to talk about it! ^_^

Harry W said...

If you liked Casino and are still looking for recommendations for things to read, try Othello. It's not exactly the same as Casino (obviously), but it's got the whole tragic love triangle, escalating despair thing going on.

craig said...

I love casino. It's just that it's too god damned long

Katie said...

Wasn't Stone's character in Casino just such a slut? I was so glad when she, you know...

I love Kill Bill, hate Sin City though

Anonymous said...

Lol Danny Dyer in Mean Machine, what a knob

Rusty said...

Are Indiana Jones and Star Wars boys' movies? I love the first Star Wars trilogy as well as Indy. I like the Indy plots and the 70s sci-fi, then again I find 1975-1990 Harrison Ford smolderingly hot.

WatchingStar said...

My favourite guy flicks are

1. The Matrix
2. Se7en
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
4. Serenity

E. said...

Dawww I loved Danny Dyer in Mean Machine! Then again, I love him in anything. I know he's kinda annoying, but still.

Dead Pan said...

Since I am of the male side of things I shall layeth the smack down with my favorite feeeemale films(chick flicks).

Love Actually
Notting Hill
Sense and Sensibility
The Sound Of Music
Jersey Girl
When Harry Met Sally
The Last Kiss

I am not sure if all of those are soley for the female population, but I am sure most guys wouldn't be interested in them.

Just a girl said...

So, um, I must be a real girly girl, because I haven't seen any of these movies...I'm surprised you didn't rate Transformers up there though, because you really like it and it's, like, the ultimate guy flick.
Speaking of guy flicks...James Bond?