In Lake Tahoe for the 4th. Posting will be light, as they say. So in honor of Independence Day, here are some movies I recommend:
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – A civics lesson from Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra, proving that all you need to stop “graft and corruption” is a filibuster-long guilt-trip. This movie has actually been blamed for increasing the use of the long-forgotten filibuster rule in the Senate. But, in 2013, the filibuster of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis proves that it can still be used for a passionate political purpose in this less Capra-corny age.
Glory – In this noble Civil War film, there is a shot of a man’s head getting crushed by a cannon ball. It happens very quickly — half a second. You wouldn’t notice probably unless someone made a montage of it repeating again and again, like a Goth kid did in my highschool film class. For everyone else, this film is about a young white colonel (Matthew Broderick) who commands an all-volunteer black unit, which includes a runaway-slave-turned-soldier played with Oscar-winning gravitas by Denzel Washington.
The Patriot – I don’t know if I’m imagining the scene where (Aussie playing American) Mel Gibson impales someone with the Stars and Stripes. (Maybe that was a Simpsons episode?) The important thing is, in the world of this movie, it could happen. Written by Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat, this movie includes both quirky historical fidelity (the bundling bag sequence) and ridiculous historical simplification (the portrayal of certain groups invoked a firestorm of criticism by Spike Lee). A patriotic guilty pleasure.
Team America: World Police – In this Americanization of the British puppet t.v. show Thunderbirds, the theme song says it all. ‘America, f*ck yeah!’ You’ll also be treated to the heart-warming ballad “I Love You Almost As Much As the Movie Pearl Harbor Sucked”.
Citizen Kane – The original title was The American, which tells you what Orson Welles and screenwriter Joe Mankiewicz thought of the contradictions their polarizing protagonist embodied. He was clearly based on newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst whose mistress, it is rumored, nicknamed his manhood “rosebud”. Forget how acclaimed the movie has become and just sit back and enjoy it in the anarchic, freewheeling spirit in which it was made.
Yankee Doodle Dandy – A biopic of dancer/songwriter George M. Cohen, played with Oscar-winning gusto by the Christopher Walken of his day, James Cagney, this story of hard work and American success ranked number 100 on the AFI’s list of the 100 Greatest American Films.