Thursday, July 07, 2011

American Patriotic Fuzzy Wuzzy Movies Part II

Aaaaaand... we're back...

Yes, yes, this was promised a few days ago, actually on July 4th, and as its July 7th when I am writing this, I'm a bit late.  But I've given you thirty posts in a little over 35 days, what more do you want from me?  Geez... needy bunch of readers, aren't you? 

Been a busy few days, forcing me to take a few days from blogging, but that's okay, we all need a little vacation from what we are doing every now and again, right?

The Lovely Steph Leann wanted me to point out to you that she wanted "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on this list, though she didn't fight for it.  However, she's appalled that "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" only made it as far as the Honorable Mentions...  that let to this exchange:

Her:  Why did you leave that off the list?  That movie is perfect!
Me:  Because I haven't seen it in forever, and I can't even talk about it knowingly...
Her:  Just because you haven't seen it in a long time doesn't make it any less awesome.  It should be on that list. 

Her bags were packed, though I talked her off the ledge. As it is, however, my decision stands.  You can read part 1 of this list by clicking here.

"Get off my plane!"

That's the key line from Harrison Ford led movie, a movie that is so utterly ridiculous, yet so utterly entertaining its ridiculous how utterly ridiculous and utterly entertaining this movie is!   The President and his family are flying in Air Force One, when a terrorist group takes over, one that somehow got on the plane.

Vee have iz wife.  Iz dah-ter.  He veel negotiate.  Gary
Oldman rules.
The terrorists think that the President has been jettisoned via the escape pod on the bottom of Air Force One, which we know first, doesn't exist in real life, and second, when Harrison Ford is your President, you know he's going to kick some major Russkie butt. 

The cast is stellar, including That Guy Hall of Famers William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Capt. Jim Brass and Xander Berkely, as well as A-listers like Gary Oldman, Glenn Close and of course, Han Solo himself,   The action is nonstop, and the movie is one of those that can be watched again and again and again, and still be entertaining... my 46th favorite film of all time.

This is not a movie I can watch over and over, because... well, I'll say it, it kinda bores me, at least a little.  But at the same time, parts of it are so riveting and moving, I can't turn away. 

Ray Kinsella thinks he's going crazy when he hears this random voice telling him, "If you build it, he will come", and of course, instead of getting his head examined, he builds it.  And he comes.

He builds it.  They show up, right out of the corn.
This is one of those films that hits you two ways--first, its entirely fantasy, and completely implausible... yet, its that unrealistic fantasy that carries the movie, that drive that Ray has to follow his heart despite what anyone and everyone tells him, that eagerness and curiosity that asks, "What if...?"

It might be something you haven't seen, or maybe something you haven't seen in a long, long time, and if so, I invite you to watch.  This is a beautiful movie all the way around, and even though I've often thought of Kevin Costner as somewhat of a mediocre actor, he definitely pulls his weight here.  James Earl Jones, Timothy Busfield (who, by way, was in a few scenes with legendary actor Burt Lancaster, who didn't know that Busfield was an actor and had him--Busfield--fetching coffee and running errands for him--Lancaster--until he realized they were in a scene together... Busfield happily did it anyway for a Hollywood Icon) and Amy Madigan lead a strong cast, but its the story, the idea that a dream, a vision, a voice can be so strong, so empowering that its life changing, that you have no choice but to follow it--that is what makes this movie what it is.

And yes, its about baseball, and yes, its really not "America's Pastime" anymore... that would be football now.  But baseball is true Americana, its truly an American invention, an American ideal, a creation of the American spirit.  This movie embodies that very imagination.  Its truly Americana. 

If ever there was a movie that could have been called "Revisionist History", it is this movie.  That being said, there are few movies that I've had more fun with at the theater than Nic Cage's "National Treasure". 

Nic Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a historian who's spent the better part of his life looking for a treasure that many people tell him doesn't exist.  The treasure was supposedly left by the Founding Fathers of the United States, but he's never been able to get close...

Is it a declaration of independence.... or a declaration of love...?

...until a set of circumstances has him and his buddy Riley in possession of a hostage, played by Diane Kruger, but also the original Declaration of Independence, stolen from its D.C. home.  They also find themselves being chased by the FBI and Harvey Keitel, but also a former friend turned foe Ian (Sean Bean), who wants to find the treasure for himself and his own greedy team.

To properly enjoy this movie, you have to take "disbelief" and not only suspend it, but put it through the paper shredder--and not a standard one, I mean one that does cross cutting and will tear up CDs and credit cards--take the shreds and spread them all over the back yard.   Because when you see the liberty bell in Philadelphia, that might be the only thing about this movie that is believable.  However, this movie is completely fun, funny and has a great story behind it. 

The film follows one clue after another, incorporating our countries monuments and locales into the story line itself, wrapping them up with a plot involving what our Founding Fathers could have meant by what they wrote and said. 

I will say, though, that while "National Treasure" struck gold, "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets" tried the same thing and, in my own humble opinion, laid a dud egg. 


Good morning.

In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world, and you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind.

Mankind. That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests.

Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live. To exist.

And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice:

We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We're going to live on!

We're going to survive!

Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

Dude.  I frakkin' love this movie.  U-S-A!  U-S-A! 

Okay, so I cheated.  Unlike the other movies on this list, its not a theatrical release, and actually, its not even a movie... its a mini-series.

Paul Giamatti was lauded deservedly as Adams.  Another amazing
performance is that of Tom Wilkinson, who plays Benjamin Franklin
in a humorous, yet likable light.  Wilkinson also portrayed the
jerkface Cornwallis in "The Patriot", also a revolutionary war movie,
and number 7 on this list.
But its the best mini-series I've ever seen in my whole life.  Paul Giamatti stars as the title character, with Laura Linney (told you I dug her) as his beloved Abigail, and the seven part mini-series chronicles Adams' life from his mid-30s, and right around the time of the Boston Massacre, taking you through the disputes and disagreements of declaring independence from Britain, tours of Europe to ask for money and help during the revolution, the end of the war itself, his battles with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson alike, and finally, the end of his life.

Its based on the book by David McCollough, and it does deviate from the book a bit, thus deviating from facts, its still a riveting story from start to finish... even the slow parts are great, and even eye opening, like how much resistance there actually was to independence--so many states just wanted to keep the status quo, and some even enjoyed the British rule. 

I highly recommend you rent it or buy it, and spend some time on it.  You'll get a better appreciation for who we are and how hard it was to get where we are now.

So there ya go... your top ten Americana Patriotic Fuzzy Wuzzy Movies.  As its a few days past this year's Independence Day, perhaps this list will come in handy next year...

The Summer of Blogging Day Thirty One

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