A Men’s Movie List
By Kristin Battestella
Although I’m not often a fan of the sappy, sometimes I swing in the completely opposite direction for some knock down, drag out, action heavy man pictures! Here’s a quick compilation of movies for boys who play hard with their action, sport, war, and classics.
Airport ‘77 – An all-star cast – including Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, Christopher Lee, James Stewart, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, and George Kennedy – adds even more nostalgia to this entry from the seventies transportation disaster franchise. Sure, it’s now typical of the early disaster flicks and we get plenty of those apocalyptic CGI blockbusters today. There isn’t a lot of character development either, and the equipment, mechanics, and ideology are out of date, too. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of fun here thanks to a unique mix of airline and aquatic dangers. The search and rescue half of the film feels more like a documentary or education short on the procedures and peril as one by one our stars have their moments. It’s strange to see some of these aged stars in their relative prime as well, but fans of the cast must see all the talent as they come out to play for this entertaining and often intense action yarn.
Any Given Sunday – It took forever to get this one from Netflix, but I hadn’t seen this 1999 Oliver Stone football ode in a long time and wanted to watch the “Life’s this game of inches” heavy in all its glory. Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quad, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, LL Cool J, Ann-Margaret, Charlton Heston, Aaron Eckhart, and many, many more in this A-list cast are all on their game as the great music, script, speeches, and quotes both bad ass and poetic highlight the lowlights of pro sports. Drug use, cutthroat contracts and betrayal, sex, media, medical malpractice – if it’s corrupt, it is here. Stone films his scenes as though they were fond memories or hyperbole sports recollections. The camera is both hectic, dizzying, and in your face in-game action and yet edgy, slow motion artistic. The editing captures the violent beauty on the field and the football as religion state of mind. The lingo and style might be dated now, but the design smartly stays away from specific trends and is still very cool. Though long at over two and a half hours, fans can watch the enjoyable, over the top entertainment out of season or have this on in the background to spruce up a post game party.
Band of Brothers – I can’t say how many times I’ve seen this exceptionally photographed, multi layered, and award winning 2001 World War II mini series from HBO, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Hanks. The camerawork is both vivid, colorful, and intimate whilst also being grainy, old school, hectic, and epic. I’m sure there must be special effects, but the work is so seamless, it’s unnoticeable. Various story-telling concepts such as flashbacks and individual narrations are used to spotlight central characters per episode and this core helps focus the extensive topics surrounding Easy Company. Of course, everyone and his grandpa makes appears here, from main cast members Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Scott Grimes, Donnie Walhberg, Neal McDonough, and David Schwimmer to then unknowns such as James McAvoy, Simon Pegg, Colin Hanks, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, and more. Everyone is simply delightful and downright touching as we meet the cast’s real life counterparts throughout the series. “Bastogne,” “The Breaking Point,” and “The Last Patrol” are outstanding, as is “Why We Fight.” I don’t like to see Holocaust material, but you know this is heart-wrenching perfection. There’s some dramatic license, sure; and language, nudity, and plenty of war gruesome will keep this one out of the classroom. However, this is perhaps as near-complete a war diary as one can see, and is there any group more legendary than the 101st? Wartime audiences might find a viewing difficult, but this show is delightful for military historians, as are the massive behind the scenes features and a dynamite blu ray transfer. Though I’d love to see a counter point series on a German regiment of note someday, the sentiment, action, and rah rah here is near impossible to beat.
The Quiet Man – One never gets tired of this charming 1952 classic, and there’s no better time than St. Patrick’s Day to sit back with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in director John Ford’s idyllic ode to Ireland. The stunning vintage Technicolor scenery, Maureen as Mary Kate and her flaming red hair bellowing in the wind, the quaint townsfolk and their old fashioned ways, a bonnet left behind, the courting via a matchmaker, the withheld dowry, and the brawl to end all brawls. You know you were picturing it all! Excellent support from Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerarld, and Ward Bond add to the chemistry, tenderness, and spitfire delights here. Yes, the issues facing 1920 Ireland are never felt onscreen, but the drama is feel good nonetheless. For those who haven’t seen this one and think Ford and Wayne are nothing but dusty old cowboys, you better think again! All the boys in the family young or old can watch this Irish nostalgia again and again.
Titus – Okay, this 1999 Shakespeare gone bizarre cinematic blend won’t be for everyone. Not only is the anachronistic approach and tone a bit confusing, but the serious amount of nudity, violence, and gore are not often found in period pieces. Traditional Shakespeare enthusiasts might be put off completely by the change-up, and that’s exactly why non-fans of The Bard can love the freaky transitions, apocalyptic cool, and twisted ensemble of Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lang, Alan Cummings, Harry Lennix, Laura Fraser, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The dialogue is powerful and largely line for line from its source, and all the ancient justice and vengeance is heavy, modern, and fresh. Even the score was lifted for 300! Rapacious foreshadowing, off screen disembowelments – some of what you don’t see in Titus is quite frightening. In fact, Shakespeare dynamos may actually enjoy this stylized spin along with the edgy layman – its risqué, mature, and disturbing as needed.