Some Must-Sees – movies boys will like, and girls ought to
Some excellent choices for a Saturday Night In
Heat – absolutely Top 10. De Niro and Pacino play cat and mouse/cop and robber, with a brilliant supporting cast including Val Kilmer (the only thing I’ve ever liked him in), Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Natalie Portman et al. It’s simply exhilarating – Michael Mann brings us the greatest bank robbery scene since Dog Day Afternoon, but not until he’s laid out a story so engaging and characters so multi-dimensional that I never wanted the film to end. So he made it 3 hours long! I’ve never been so ecstatic in all my movie-going life.
Goodfellas – one of Scorsese’s best. A gangster flick with the perfect voiceover; star turns from Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and a frightening Joe Pesci; the wonderful Lorraine Bracco (later playing the ultimate in-joke as Dr Melfi in The Sopranos) and cameos from Scorsese’s own mamma and papa. Also one of the longest and most accomplished tracking shots in film history. Right from the opening scene, it has you by the throat and you don’t even want it to let you go.
Children of Men – from a filmmaker’s point of view, this is just incredible. The photography is notable for its ability to drag you into the action and carry you along, and to elicit a “how the heck did they do that??” response on several occasions. Clive Owen carries the story of a dystopian future where no children have been born for several years, and the planet is clearly in a crisis of gradual extinction. Amazing, exciting, wonderful stuff.
The Insider – more Michael Mann. This time it’s Russell Crowe who stacks on the weight and goes grey to deliver a superlative performance as a tobacco scientist who turns whistleblower. Al Pacino spars with him as the journalist who takes up his story. It’s beautifully shot, scripted, acted and completely gripping to the end.
Casino – another Scorsese masterpiece, more De Niro and Pesci. But this time they share the screen with a luminous Sharon Stone, giving the performance of her career as the manipulative, drug-addled wife of a casino boss (De Niro) who’s trying to go straight, but can’t leave the gangster life behind. Another amazing soundtrack, too.
Carlito’s Way – Brian De Palma follows up Scarface with Pacino playing a different character with similar leanings. Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller provide excellent support to Pacino’s Carlito Brigante, an ex-con trying to go good, who gets entangled in the dubious business of his lawyer, friend and ex-colleagues. It’s violent and exciting, and romantic too.
Infernal Affairs – the original Hong Kong police thriller that Scorsese made into the Oscar-winning The Departed. The original is better though – and stars the stunning Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu Wai as a cop undercover in a criminal gang, and a gangster who has infiltrated the police. Let the games begin.
(Needless to say this list could go on and on, but this will do for now.)