he Hurt Locker opens this week, and one of the most remarkable things about this remarkable war movie is that it plays more like a gut-busting Sam Fuller/Don Siegel WWII action film than it does one of today's somber, navel-gazing, message-driven war films. Perhaps even more remarkable -- though it's sad that it has to be so remarkable -- is that director Kathryn Bigelow is a woman, out-shooting most of today's male directors. But thankfully she's not the only one to give men a run for their money in guy-oriented genres.

1. Near Dark (1987, Kathryn Bigelow)
Bigelow has already racked up an impressive career of male-bonding films of all genres. Most of them are underrated gems or cult films, and I like all of them, but this vampire film is my favorite (though, technically, the word "vampire" is never used in the film). It was one of the first films to remove the classic gothic setting and place the bloodsuckers in the modern-day American west, among the denim-clad rednecks, neon bars and pickup trucks. It's relentlessly violent and sometimes disturbing but at the same time it knows how to pause for moments of glorious beauty and even a touching love story.

categories Cinematical