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For the week of January 10 through January 16, 2001

Chick-Flicks for Reel Women


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Chick-Flicks. How we despise that name and what it connotes, implying as it does the lowest of sappy mindless drivel produced with soaring soundtracks to tell you when to cry; mothers, lovers and/or children dying; lost love, betrayal, accidents, tragedy and mucho suffering.

Theyíre Sophieís Choice meets Ordinary People meets Beaches meets Message in a Bottle.

Woman with working brains donít much appreciate the label and men just cringe at the thought.

The fallacy with the idea of the chick-flick is that all woman want only to watch overly made-up unrealistic babes sitting around chatting and dishing---for instance, the often alluded to top-ten chick-flicks: Beaches, Waiting to Exhale and Steel Magnolias.

Watching a movie with gal-pals, (or even the odd evolved man), calls for something better than dramatized Oprah episodes. In short, it calls for characters with character.

My aim here then is to offer an alternative list of sorts. These are movies whose appeal is based on sparkling dialogue, intrigue, strong women and appealing men. I call this the "sense and sensibility chick-flicks," or S&SCF.

Firstly there is romantic comedy. Itís one of the hardest genres to pull off well and frankly the good ones were all made many years ago.

The best of the screwball comedies and topping the S&SCF list are such classics as The Thin Man, where Myrna Loy and William Powell share martinis and witticisms while solving crimes and looking smashing; His Girl Friday is one of the best films to highlight the incredible screen appeal of Cary Grant, as does The Awful Truth with delightful Irene Dunne, a flick that soars with sex appeal and lunacy; The Palm Beach Story, The Philadelphia Story, Holiday and It Happened One Night.

Two of the recent film versions of Jane Austen novels are included on the list as well.

Pride and Prejudice, (the six-tape A&E version), and Persuasion are so well-made, played and directed--with moving and intriguing situations and dynamics--that even men have been known to be sucked into Austenís world of repressed desire and eccentric characters.

But fear not. This list also includes movies featuring guys. Face it, we woman like to see cute guys, who are funny.

Diner and Breaking Away are two of these. They feature several actors in their thinner and untainted youth. In Diner, the first of Barry Levinsonís Baltimore movies, Paul Reiser, Mickey Roarke, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern and Ellen Barkin appear as an ensemble of just barely mature friends in the 1960s.

They were nearly all unknowns when the movie was made in 1982. Itís enjoyable to see these currently recognizable actorsí quirks already evident. Besides which, the movie is hysterical, convincing and uncanny.

Breaking Away featured Dennis Christopher as a bike racing fanatic with Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and Jackie Earle Haley. This gem of a movie, mostly forgotten, was nominated for Best Picture in 1979.

So, why do these particular films rate as S&SCF?

Because the guys look great, there are very funny lines, great performances and believable stories about true friendships which women relate to despite the friendsí genders.

What else makes it on this list? Movies with sex, of course.

Unbearable Lightness of Being. Itís smart---based on the Milan Kundera novelóit has gorgeous actors, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche, in an intriguing story with fascinating characters who have a lot of sex with each other. See? Something for everyone there.

Likewise, Women in Love, from the D.H. Lawrence novel, though emotionally very dark, has clever women, a dialogue driven plot line and an extremely earthy nude wrestling match between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed.

All About Eve may be one of the smartest movies made. The female leads are brittle, conniving, and vulnerable, and the men are no slouches either.

Some Like It Hot. Oh yes, this is one of the funniest movies ever and sense and sensibility women love it since it involves friends, men-in-drag, Marilyn Monroe at her ripest, and the funniest final line ever.

To wit:

An exasperated (and in drag) Jack Lemmon after being proposed to by Joe E. Brown: "But Iím a man!"

Joe E. Brownís nonchalant response: "Nobodyís perfect!"

Bull Durham is a movie which is very nearly perfect, synergizing sports, aging, romance and a smart, though daffy lead female role.

Though Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon famously fell in love during this movie, itís her repressed desire for Kevin Costner and his for her that generates heat. Itís literate, the soundtrackís a gas, and itís about that most cerebral of team sports --baseball.

Dr. No.

Let me explain my choice. Sean Connery, in 1962, was as choice a specimen of the male gender as you are likely to find anywhere, anytime. Besides that he shares the screen with Ursula Andress, a Jamaican locale, a thrilling adventure, and what man would say no to it.

Two seldom seen and great rents to share with gal-pals are My Brilliant Career and Impromptu, both starring the peerless Judy Davis, before Woody Allen discovered her and made her into another neurotic female version of himself.

How about a few epics and romantic adventures to liven up the night? What would any list be without Gone With the Wind and Citizen Kane? Letís add Shakespeare in Love, Last of the Mohicans, (1992 version), The Princess Bride, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

To sum it up, hitherto derogatorily called chick- flicks are merely sappy tearjerkers. They are not movies for, about or even made by women. They are menís fantasies and often feature glorified dead wives and prostitutes with hearts of gold and unnaturally buffed bodies.

Go ahead, if you must, watch those. We reel-women will be viewing A League of Their Own.

 

 

 

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