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What's the Fascination with Mafia/Gangster Movies?

  • 22-08-2021 7:29pm
    Registered Users Posts: 1,243 ✭✭✭Brid Hegarty

    The ones that come to mind are The Godfather, American Gangster, The Departed, Good Fellas, Black Mass, Scar Face. Do people like to watch somebody get killed for practically nothing?. Did I hear that there's another one out again about Whitey Bulger?

    It's as if any movie that has something along these lines is automatically considered good! You might say "what harm?" if people enjoy them, but does the constant spotlight on these movies mean that other movies - with a unique theme - don't get a proper chance? Just take something like 'Matchstick Men', or 'Office Space'. I'm not necessarily saying these are good, and yes you mightn't have heard of them (and that's partly my point), but these movies are more true to life in ways, and explore issues that other movies haven't. In fact I looked up the director of 'Matchstick Men' to see if he'd done any other films that ventured outside the typical idea of a movie, and it seems that movie is the only one!

    What's the fascination? Does anyone actually think that they're going to bear witness to anything similar to what you see in these movies? Do directors lack the imagination to do anything else?



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,639 ✭✭✭completedit

    Shite. Yankee culture needs to die tbh. Probably coming to the end of these type of films though.

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  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 89,382 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight

    The Departed was a remake of a Hong Kong film because they do good gangster movies there.

    In the US it goes back to prohibition , James Cagney as a dancer could waltz in and steal the show, just like Christopher Walken later on. Weapon of Choice is a fantastic video and James Cagney could have done it too.

    Movies can be an escape from reality, a lot of the based on real life ones are a little too mundane at the end.

    Someone did some research on Game Of Thrones vs Medieval Europe and the death rate of nobles was about the same. Gangster movies are the same in a modern setting with private fiefdoms.

    Real life can be petty , I doubt there'll be a major film about the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars but would not be surprised about a Netflix Original Series.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I was in my 30s before I copped that the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars weren't about the ability to sell ice-cream.

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  • >It's as if any movie that has something along these lines is automatically considered good!

    That's called survivorship bias.

    Anyways you just listed some excellent movies but seem to be under the impression that they're only well regarded because of their subject matter. If you don't like them, that's fine. We don't care.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,175 ✭✭✭Andrewf20

    Humans are interested in power as it puts us higher in the dominance hierarchy as Jordan Peterson would say. The higher in the dominance hierarchy we are, the happier we feel. Powerful figures (like in these movies) are interesting to watch because we might learn something about how they command respect. They may teach us lessons about how to be more powerful ourselves.

    That's my 2 cents anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,980 ✭✭✭✭RobbingBandit

    Yuve been away for a whil Billy, Yeah I don do dat no mor

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭OMM 0000

    One of the interesting things about gangster movies is the person we're rooting for is usually a bad person. It adds complexity to the experience as we don't have black and white feelings while watching the movie.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,885 ✭✭✭✭Ash.J.Williams

  • Registered Users Posts: 744 ✭✭✭Hyperbollix

    The Sopranos is a good example of the same thing. For one the focal point of everything is the family, which is common to most gangster material. Everyone can relate to family dynamics and most find it interesting and compelling. Most mafia stuff revolves around the idea of family being the one solid constant in life which is dependable - or turning on one another in the end. Another theme as old as time which is very relatable.

    Then you have the power aspect. Tony didn't attend a great college, isn't an elite professional like many of his neighbours, he's just a normal working class type who lives in a very wealthy area and has all the trappings of money. He knows powerful people and is influential. People are attracted to that and it's something which is also common in the mob genre.

    Then you have the criminality. Gangsters take the shortcut to wealth. They don't work 18 hour days in a drab office. They get rich through unlawful activities and are constantly trying to stay a step ahead of the authorities. Tony is in "waste management" but never goes to the office. The staff don't know him. When he's not gambling big money in one form or another he splits his time between a small deli shop and a lap dancing club. People are excited by the fantasy of chucking in their factory job and maybe trying a bit of armed robbery, extortion etc..

    Humour - the whole witty wiseguy thing, embodied by Joe Pesci basically.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,243 ✭✭✭Brid Hegarty

    The attention seeking J Peterson needs his big words to make it seem as if he's actually saying something we don't already know. All he does is make everything long winded. And where is he now... in rehab or something?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,243 ✭✭✭Brid Hegarty

    Speak for yourself. Why would people root for the bad guy? Isn't that at least a bit neurotic? If he's the same guy who'd have no problem (in a real life scenario) killing your sibling, standing over their body and laughing, then why would you root for that person? And don't tell me because it's fiction.

    I'm not saying you're wrong about the 'rooting' argument. I just think you'd have to be an easily manipulated person, controlled by emotions, to find yourself rooting for the bad guy. I don't lack the perspective that the soprano types fans do, and therefore different themes allure me.

  • We're all the bad guy in someone's story.

  • Registered Users Posts: 860 ✭✭✭moycullen14

    It's as old as time itself. The concept of the 'flawed' hero. And when you find yourself rooting for a lying, cheating, psychopath, you do begin to wonder about your own moral compass. All part of the fun of the engagement. All the world loves a 'bad boy'

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,243 ✭✭✭Brid Hegarty

    No, all the world does not love a bad boy. And even at that, there's a difference to a trouble maker and a murderer. Sorry, but you're not very convincing.

    If it's as old as time itself then what's so novel about these soprano type things.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭OMM 0000

    You're misunderstanding.

    When you watch The Soprano's you think Tony is a scumbag, but you also want him to win whatever war he's fighting.

    You don't have to think in a black and white way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,060 ✭✭✭✭bodhrandude

    I like the Italian New York accent. 😊

    If you want to get into it, you got to get out of it. (Hawkwind 1982)

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,473 ✭✭✭buried

    Its the most visceral form of modern drama from the last 30 - 40 years. It is also a visceral form of dramatic escapism, as the organised criminal world is a world that 99.9% of the audience will never know. I would disagree with this notion that the audience continuously "roots for the bad guy", the conclusion to the vast majority of works in this genre, especially the greatest pieces of work, always results in the "bad guy" either dead, imprisoned or eradicated. That's half the reason audience watch also, the gradual rise and ultimate fall. I would agree that nowadays there is far too much saturation of the genre being created by a lot of sub par writers and studios, who just seem to want to portray a showcase of edginess, recreating the same visual design of the likes of 'The Sopranos' or 'The Wire' but have none of the imaginative writing capability and build of those two series.

    "You have disgraced yourselves again" - W. B. Yeats

  • Posts: 1,263 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    I find gangster movies a bit predictable: hardship sequences, ostentious displays of wealth sequences, can't forget to include a few beatings, don't forget the strip club sequences and slow moving domestic sequences contrasted against fast paced cat and mouse with the cops and other villians; it's all glamour constantly juxtaposed against violence and hardship.

    All that said, that moment in White Hot, when Stan Laurel stands on top of that gas tank and shouts "I've made it Da, the top of the morning to you" just before it explodes is great art no matter which way you spin it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,902 ✭✭✭Mister Vain

    Scarface is the only film I like out of the ones you listed. The soundtrack alone is brilliant. I hate films with constant narration. Snatch is the only exception.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 89,382 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight

    Kung Fu Hustle - is a different take on a gangster movie. "like Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny."

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,060 ✭✭✭✭bodhrandude

    The True Romance Mafia bit was inspired I have to say, there's also the guest appearance of the little known actor at the time who would play Tony Soprano.

    If you want to get into it, you got to get out of it. (Hawkwind 1982)

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,177 ✭✭✭Fandymo

    So you just don’t understand it. That’s fair enough. Others do understand, so they enjoy it. Maybe in time you’ll learn to understand the dynamics and you too can enjoy some of the greatest stories committed to celluloid. Until then, continue watching inane comedies like Office Space that you understand.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    True Romance is an underrated masterpiece in my opinion

    Adore that movie