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October 23, 2006

Ricky Bobby, I want you!

by Michele Martinez

I feel like a traitor to my sex admitting this, but I like guy flicks.

First of all, I love intense, violent, testosterone-driven movies.  Not slasher films, mind you, but artsy ones with a bloodthirsty bent.  I am hardly alone in this predilection, which is probably why I am not really, truly ashamed of it.  If I come out and say that I think Unforgiven is the greatest American film of the last two decades, I'm in good company.  AFI put it on the list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century, along with other blood-drenched masterpieces like The Godfather, Taxi Driver and Fargo (which is hilarious and feminist and features a guy getting put through a wood chipper.  What's not to love?)

Same thing with tv.  Why do I love The Sopranos so much?  Yes, for its rich character development and flawless evocation of a fascinating subculture.  But also for its fearless depiction of brutality.  Maybe this comes out of my past as a prosecutor doing a lot of violent gang and narcotics cases.  This stuff resonates with me.  It happens in real life.  We love to ignore it.  So I appreciate a director who can depict it without pulling any punches (so to speak).  When The Sopranos finally ends, and we're all sitting around making our picks of all-time greatest scene, I'm voting for the one where Ralph Cifaretto   beats the prostitute who's pregnant with his child to death in the parking lot of the Bada Bing for no real reason.  Why?  Because it's relentlessly honest.  This happens to women out there.  You can't look, but you can't look away.

Am I the only woman who feels this way?

But okay, here's the part I truly blush to admit.  I like dumbass, goofy guy flicks too, even though some of them are nothing short of sexist.  Not that I don't love a great romantic comedy, but they're not making those like they used to.  (I just watched When Harry Met Sally for at least the tenth time the last time I was at the dentist.  Now there's a move you can't see too often.  Harley, you were amazing, and what cheekbones!)  A lot of romantic comedies these days plain suck.  I was in hotel room recently searching through the "recent releases" category on the in-room video menu, and I could stomach the thought of Talladega Nights way better than The Break-Up.  Is that just because I'm sick and tired of Jennifer Aniston's love life, or is there really something wrong with me?  How sick is this, but these guys make me laugh:


So help me out here.  Confess your secret video vice, and show me that I'm not alone.  (No pornos, please.  We don't need to know!)


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Oh yeah. Love The Sopranos and am still upset about Deadwood, which, despite the ungodly language (makes the Sopranos look like a PTA meeting) was realistic and superb.

I am now getting hooked on The Wire for some of the same reasons.

I also hear you on the goofball stuff, although Adam Sandler does not do it for me. I'd put the Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson crew in his place. I thought Dodgeball was totally hilarious, and it doesn't get much dumber than that!

I'm with you on the goofball stuff (I'll watch anything wiith Ben Stiller in an oversized mustache) but not on the violent stuff. Not since I had kids. The beating of a pregnant woman - and you're right, Michele, it is honest, unfortunately - sends me over the edge.

Now I'm going to ask that hotbed question: will guys who watch this think it's cool and beat THEIR pregnant girlfriends? Or do guys like that not watch HBO? (I do, but only for Big Love.)

And here's my last question: you watch movies at the dentist???

Oh, yeah I'm a total Wire-head. Since the first season. It's the truest thing I've seen anywhere about the narcotics trade. I caught Deadwood a few times and I was impressed, but somehow it did not strike me as realistic. I never bought that they talked like that back then.

Sarah, interesting question about whether these shows encourage violence. I personally feel that the effect of tv shows, video games, etc. gets overstated. Among the guys I knew who had killed people, it just seeemd like it was in them somehow. Maybe you could trace it back to childhood abuse, maybe not. You would see real differences even among siblings in levels of violence. Anyway, I think if tv and movies are influencing people, it's more the dehumanizing slasher films and shoot-em-up video games that have that effect than the more character-driven stuff that always acknowledges the cost of violence.

My dentist is a trip. She is an identical twin. Her twin is a dentist. They married identical twin brothers, one of whom is also a dentist. That makes their kids biological siblings. And she has flat-screen tvs over every dental chair, and every episode of Friends, Sex and the City and Seinfeld.

Has anyone read the latest issue of The New Yorker? There's an article by Malcolm Gladwell (Now him, I love!) about a method of analyzing movies before they're released to figure out how much dough they'll earn. And it's astonishingly accurate. (The studios just don't want to believe it yet.) Thing is, according to this study method, it doesn't matter who stars in the movie (brace yourself, Mr. Cruise) but IT'S ALL IN THE STORY! For instance, if the protatonist finds himself in a moral crisis by the end of act one, that pushes up the box office numbers.

Anyway, my point is that the scripts of guy flicks are more likely to have obvious plot points, big motivations, clear-cut goals, etc. (All the guys take the Robert McKee class.) Chick flicks tend to have low stakes (I'm with you, Michele---could care less what happens to mopey Jennifer Aniston) and few moral crises BECAUSE GIRLS AREN'T ALLOWED TO MAKE MISTAKES OR THEY'RE UNLIKABLE and studios still think morally conflicted women can't sell tickets.

So guy movies tend to have stronger stories--which are more satisfying when you're sitting nervously in the dentist's chair or on the couch after a long day prosecuting baby-killing drug dealers.

How's that for a theory?

Anyway, I watched 2 minutes of a Julia Roberts movie last night & thought---wow, Harley has cheekbones better than hers. Why didn't Harley get this movie?? My new theory is that Harley has too much intelligence in her face. Julia--even now--still looks like the protag of an average chick flick---not too bright, but a really nice smile.

One of my favorite all-time movies is Romancing the Stone. That should be a fave for people on this site, given the plot.

Signed, a "hopeful romantic."

I'm not really into violent flicks (and if anyone mentions Braveheart, I'm going to upchuck), but I did like V for Vendetta. Mostly, though, for the funny Stephen Frey skit.

Well, my current Netflix selection includes both The Break-Up (pretty good actually) and Highlander ("There Can Be Only One!") And I'm pretty definitely a guy. A good movie's a good movie...and a bad movie can be great.

M.J. Rose made an interesting point on her blog that sort of relates to the Malcolm Gladwell article you mention, Nancy. I think she was reacting to that WSJ article about how all the money spent on "The Interpretation of Murder" didn't buy anything higher than the bare minimum on the NYT list. Did you all see that? A bunch of publishing industry types were quoted saying "we just don't know what works," and M.J.'s response was, "well in Hollywood, they market test."

I was teaching this seminar on plot this past weekend to a bunch of lawyers who want to write legal thrillers, and one of them asked me what I thought of the software that plots your novel for you. Apparently you can buy this program that walks you through plotting by asking you a bunch of questions about your ideas and spits out a desirable plot structure.

So Dusty, which movies are so bad they're great?

Sigh. I hardly watch any movies anymore. With babysitters so hard to get and so damn expensive, I'm always too cheap. Although we don't make it to the Gore flick which just depressed the shit out of me.

I did like Unforgiven though! Caught that one.

Nancy's point is very interesting.

My secret vice. Reality TV. I'm a Survivor regular (although the bloom is coming off the rose) and now I watch The Amazing Race. I think I like watching real people in anxiety-producing situations.

Off to San Diego!

Ooh, reality tv. There's a good one. I guess I remain true to form because the only reality show I'm really hooked on is "Breaking Bonaduce." I used to be a huge Partridge Family fan, and it's kind of amazing to watch little Danny all grown up, injecting himself with steroids and threatening to punch out the cameraman.

Hmmm...my favorite guy flick? The Rock. Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery and Ed Harris all in the same movie? How could it get any better? Comedy? Well, any Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan movie. Necessary Roughness with Scott Bakula and Hector Elizando :o) I also confess to having a thing for Nathan Fillion as Captain Tightpa...I mean Malcolm Reynolds on the short-lived Firefly and Serenity :o)
TV? Mark Harmon and Chris Noth and Vincent D'Onofrio.
Gotta go buy a car...mine 'retired' this last Friday:o(

We have similar tastes. I loved the Kill Bill movies and Sin City, and I love good zombie flicks (the Dawn of the Dead remake was stupid apart from its first 10 minutes). For TV I love Rescue Me (DH calls it a "male soap opera") and The Shield... and I'd love to get my hands on The Wire.

I think those who are already in violent frames of mind gravitate toward violent media... and then it's of a certain variety. Not the stuff with stories, but the stuff that as a previous poster said, desensitizes them even further than they already were.

I loved "Rescue Me" in the first season, then it got SOO farfetched. You already had to suspend disbelief to believe Dennis Leary as a firefighter (he's really hot, but not in the right way). Then they got going with the Jesus hallucinations, and Tommy Gavin being responsible for the deaths of virtually everybody in the world who mattered to him. It got too maudlin to believe. Nobody has that much bad luck, even when they deserve it.

I think the reason we like reality TV is that we don't know what's going to happen. (Unless the production starts to get too slick & foreshadows for us.) The trouble with those plot-by-software programs is that any 12-yr-old who's watched half a dozen guy movies can figure out the story before it's over. But....okay, what's going to happen on Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders? I haven't got a clue! And after watching for 15 minutes last night, I'm dying to know!

That said, I'll watch HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER any time I run across it. And LETHAL WEAPON (which the guys on Sunday Morning Shootout call a perfect screenplay.--See McKee.) but not the sequels.

I think ADAPTATION was on this weekend. Now, there's a movie that thoroughly examines guy flicks! Plus it's a hoot. But I'm not sure anybody but writers really gets it. My husband still thinks the movie was about 2 brothers.

My husband saw Flags of our Fathers on Friday night. He said I wouldn't like it - can't take that kind of big screen violence (the only way I could watch Private Ryan was to wait in the next room until the opening battle scene was over).

If the early Bond films are considered guy flicks, I'd watch them any time.

Best romantic comedy: Moonstruck.

I'm on the Adam Sandler side of the fence...no vince, no ben stiller. They just don't do it for me. However, I LOVED THE RINGER! Yes, I'm a guy-flick girl. I'll watch chick flicks but I tell you if I had to choose between BLADE and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY ...Honey BLADE wins.

You are so right about THE SOPRANOS--another show I love, and Dexter and Saved. Did anyone watch Saved? I loved that show.

I'm a dork...but seriously this is lots of good food for writing thoughts.

Okay - here's my confession my favorite guy-like movie--True Lies. I LOVE that flick, it's got violence, humor, stuff blowing up...and Arnold.

Romantic comedy? The Princess Bride.

I don't like horror flicks, or art flicks or campy flicks that are supposed to be funny, but fall way short of the mark (Napoleon Dynamite anyone?)

I don't watch the Sopranos but I watched Deadwood, initially because I live 40 miles from Deadwood and I got hooked on it because its phenomenonal.

My "secret" video fave Grease 2 - I can (and sadly have) watch it time and time again. - but shhh - don't tell =)

But I *heart* guy flicks - The Die Hard trilogie - love them....

had never thought of the plot point issues before - could be why I like to write Romantic Suspence more than straight romance - hmm... (could aslo be all the dang testoterone in my house of 5 guys and me - sheesh!)

Movie confession: I sit through the beginning of Armageddon just to see Michael Clarke Duncan cry and ask for a hug.

Confession #2: Under JD's bad movies can be great comment, I love the movie Signs. Yes, the one starring Mel Gibson as a former minister (Can't he be excommunicated for portraying a Protestant? Just a suggestion), written and directed by the Boy Who Thinks He's A Wonder, and the whole thing is about aliens and cornfields. It's the best nonsense ever. Well, except for The Village.

I have no problem with violence -- used to skip out of afternoon classes in high school to see THE GODFATHER a few more times -- but God save me from anything where kids are killed or menaced in any way. Accidental drowning. Car crashes. If there's someone under 16 involved, I can't go there.

I just saw DEPARTED and loved it. After the final killing (you who've seen it know which one I mean) a lady in the back of the theatre yelled, "THANK YOU!"

Signs was a great movie for the first hour and a terrible one for the second. Sad, really. The build-up was so scary that I got goosebumps, and then we have stupid green men you can kill with water??? My seven-year-old could've done better than that. Whereas The Sixth Sense is one of the most brilliant movies of all time. Another great scary movie, but not at all violent -- The Others with Nicole Kidman.

Oh, and thinking about Signs reminded me how much I heart Joaquin Phoenix, which in turn reminded me of one of my all-time fave gory movies -- Gladiator! I generally hate Russell Crowe these days, but in that one, mmm hmm, he was fine.

Wasn't Joaquin in Parenthood? With Harley?

Yes, Ramona. Back when his first name was Leaf. From the first rehearsal, reading from the script, he made me cry. He was so good. And he was a sweetheart.

Joaquin was named Leaf? How utterly wrong for him. He was also amazing as Johnny Cash. I'd say he was cheated out of the Oscar, but losing to Philip Seymour Hoffman is nothing to be ashamed of.

Someday we need to talk about Hollywood names.

That little kid in Parenthood? That was Joaquin Phoenix??? Of course it was. Oh, dear, just thinking about that character is making *me* want to cry!

As a working professional, I relate to John Wayne and Indiana Jones movies, but in terms of my love life - "King Kong" is an allegory of my love life. I did not understand the "romance" of "Brokeback Mountain," but I understand killing 3 Tyranasaurus Rexes for the woman I love....

If you like violence, and a great movie, go see "The Departed". The acting was fabulous. And it isn't called "The Departed" for nothing.

Love the Bond movies. The Die Hard movies too.

Dont forget the Lethal Weapon series.

I would like you to try one of my favorite movies. When you need a laugh try UNDERCOVER BLUES.For anyone else who have seen it, kill the lights! Gets me everytime. Even when I know its coming. And Morty OMG He really took over that movie. Kathleen Turner and Quiad were great in this one. Try it, you'll like it. SusanCo

LOL go Dave!

I hated Signs, but loved The Village. I love it when I don't know what's coming but I know SOMETHING'S coming!

Lori I am embarrassed to say I laughed at Napoleon Dynamite.

Michele - I actually didn't see the second season of Rescue Me. Just the first and third. It didn't take long to figure out that the characters hadn't grown much (unlike on The Shield). This is why DH calls it a "male soap opera." LOL

I liked the second half of Signs because I thought it was making an entirely different point (about faith) than the marketers made it out to be (about aliens). The Village, on the other hand, sucked badly.

OK, here's another. Jackie Chan, anyone? He is sublime. I love the "Rush Hour" movies, but they're not really guy flicks. I consider him the modern-day equivalent of Fred Astaire.

So many great movies! I really can't do extreme violence of any sort (but blowing up cars, well, that's OK). One of my favorite totally dumb, completely predictable, and utterly enjoyable recent flicks was Sahara. Michele, I'm totally with you on The Sixth Sense, The Others, and Jackie Chan. Also Jet Li and that adorable Thai boy (anyone see "Ong Bak, Thai Warrior"?). And Gladiator -- oh, yes. Also The 13th Warrior, with Antionio Banderas. I still think the scariest movie of all time was Jaws.

My guilty favorites -- I watch these when I need a pick-me-up or just something to make me smile -- Sister Act, Galaxy Quest, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Little Mermaid.

Romancing the Stone rocked, as did the first Indiana Jones movie.

The only reality TV I've ever watched was Celebrity Duets, and yes, I did dial my fingers off for Lucy Lawless :)

My DVD collection consists of the entire Bond series (got the double disc platinum collector's set from England last month!), THE SAINT, THE PROTECTORS, THE BARON, THE CHAMPIONS, THE PRISONER, THE PERSUADERS, THE ADVENTURER, Indiana Joneses, Die Hards, Lethal Weapons, anything with Bogart, Karloff/Lugosi/Chaney, Christopher Lee's Dracula series from Hammer Studios, anything with Cagney, all the Dirty Harrys, etc etc etc. A Good Guy, A Bad Guy, A Girl, and a A Gun, and I'm happy.

And there in the middle of it all...like a crown jewel.....

SOMEWHERE IN TIME. Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Universal, 1980.

Saw it way back when in Miami. Badgered the manager until he gave me the poster. Got the soundtrack on LP. Tracked down the novel. First VHS movie I ever bought (for the unheard of cost of $125.00). Wore out the LP, got cassette for the car, went to CD, then the 24K CD, then the full soundtrack, then the DVD, then the Special Edition DVD, then the privately published sequel "Memories of Elise". The scene where Reeve finds the penny brought me out of my chair in the theatre with a howl of "NO!!!" that scared the crap out of the entire theatre, and that scene *still* makes me tear up, not to mention the final scene.....

Just a slight contradiction.....

Wow, I've never seen that movie. But now I will. Thanks for that, WS.

Hi Michele! I just started reading your blogs, and had to post on this! (I owe you an email, and that's coming soon).
My "secret" obsession is with baseball movies; some are total guy flicks and I can't get enough of them. For instance, since the world series started, I had to watch For Love of The Game yesterday. Also some great ones are 61*, Field of Dreams, A Leauge of Their Own, Hardball, The Sandlot, etc. I can watch them over and over again...
At the same time, I am a sucker for stupid romantic comedies and of course, Disney movies.
Anyway, I can't believe you mentioned your SEVEN year old. Happy Birthday Will! Talk to you soon!

Hi Johanna -- I'm so happy to see you posting here! Tell all your friends about this blog; it is so fun. I'm not at all surprised you love baseball movies.

I just told Will HB from you!

Yes, Jackie Chan, yes.

And I'll stop whatever I'm doing to stare at Bruce Lee. I adore him.

I guess Mr. Personality, Steven Segal...does not fit the profile....

I confess I love monster flicks. I enjoyed Aliens Vs Predator, god save me. I can't stand slasher films or chick flicks. I do love well made animated films - Ice Age, Monsters, Inc, etc.

Oh wow, guy flicks...

I adore "The Dirty Dozen," "The Guns of Navaronne" and "Bullitt." Love pro football too for its orchestrated violence and quasi-military strategy.

But like William Simon, I can't get through "Somewhere in Time" without bawling.

Hi Kris -- thanks for posting! You just reminded me that one of the all-time hottest tough guys is Steve McQueen. But I can't watch him without feeling sad that Ali McGraw gave up her promising career for him.

WS, try watching "The Lake House" with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. I think it may've edged out "Somewhere in Time" on my "romances" list...I must be the only person in the USA who doesn't have HBO. Consequently, I am on Season 3 of "The Sopranos", checking the DVDs out of the library. Michele, I just watched the episode with Richie killing his pregnant girlfriend last night! I generally can't stand overt violence on screen (I go for escapism) but "The Sopranos" has me mesmerized, go figure.

Oops, meant Ralph not Richie. What was I thinking of - "Happy Days"?!

PJ Parrish wrote: "I adore "The Dirty Dozen,"

And leave us never forget the all time classic classic CLASSIC goes down in history scene in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE where Tom Hanks and Victor Garber break down in tears over The Dozen....

I am a little late to the party but you gotta love Invasion USA -- one of my favorite Christmas movies. What Chuck Norris does to the Aventura Mall in Miami is a must for me about 12/23! Maybe it's being in retail!
mary alice

Ha, that's funny, May Alice. Great to see you posting!

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