Weekend Rentals: July 4th Edition

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Though this weekend many of your fellow Americans will be doing such celebratory things as eating hamburgers in an outdoors setting and watching fireworks, we know that 1. it is hot out, 2. many of you are vegetarians, and 3. there’s an argument to be made that if you’ve seen one firework, you’ve seen ’em all. With that in mind, here’s an alternative Movie Rental Guide to the Weekend that is both indoors and firework-free. And as always, feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments.

For the History Buffs: John Adams (2008) 

If your perfect Fourth of July includes journeying back to the time when our founding fathers debated and eventually decided to declare independence from Great Britain, HBO’s miniseries John Adams, which aired earlier this year and is now available on DVD, is for you. Starring Paul Giamatti as the title character and Laura Linney as Abigail, the miniseries is a very serious look at one of the most important, but largely unknown, founding fathers. The series begins with the Massachusetts native’s decision to represent the British soldiers who were tried for their involvement in the Boston Massacre and spans all the way to his death on the Fourth of July, 1826. With in-depth scenes that delve into the issues that faced Adams and other early American leaders, John Adams explores how this day became a holiday in the first place.

For the American Studies Major: American Beauty (1999)

For those whose ideal Fourth of July is spent critically examining modern day America, look no further than American Beauty. Winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, the film centers on the Burnhams, a family of three that has achieved the American Dream. Beginning with Lester (Kevin Spacey), however, the Burnhams come to find the ideal American mold is too confining, that they want something other a nice life in suburbia. Therefore, they slowly but cautiously step beyond typical social boundaries in pursuit of their own desires. With exceptional acting, especially by Annette Bening (Mrs. Burnham) and Chris Cooper (the next-door neighbor), and the careful realization of a very deep story, American Beauty is an intellectual exploration for those who want to do more than just accept our independence.

Again, this one’s for the Sorkophiles: The American President (1995) 

Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, the film tells the story of a widowed president (Michael Douglas) who falls in love with a high-powered environmental lobbyist (Annette Bening). Though their affection for one another is strong, the president struggles to simultaneously fulfill both his personal responsibilities and his political needs, while his Republican opponent (Richard Dreyfuss) — who looks and talks like Dick Cheney — continues to gain political momentum. Sorkin’s script and Reiner’s direction meld nicely in a film that is more than just a typical romantic comedy. Plus, if you’re a West Wing fan, you’ll notice a some recycled dialogue.

— Brandon Hammer

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  1. What about

    Team America: World Police

    "We're gonna need a montage!"

  2. 12er

    as a concerned member of the class of 2012, i thought i should direct bwog to Stephan's latest exploits (and apparent belief that Butler dates back to before the revolution)


  3. Prez Bill Pullman

    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 are 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 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!

  4. !!!

    Fuck that, that song was on South Park and they REUSED it in the movie. I'll shout this with anger until the day I am dead!

    • For you

      The K-13? You don't wanna go down that run. That run has got a historih. Thirty-five people have died goin' down it, and some say you can still see their ghosts there. It was on that very ski run that a group of students were killed a wolfboy who escaped from a mental institution. You see, that ski run was once a burial ground to a tribe of vampire wichicaw who ate the flesh of children with no eyes. Yah-, a lot of history on that ski run.

  5. hot tip

    john adams is a total fag.

    happy independence day everyone!

  6. Prez Bill Pullman

    Remember, July 4th is a holiday to recognize when our founding fathers overcame their differences to defeat the aliens.

  7. How

    is The Patriot not on this list???

    How about instead of John Adams for History Buffs, we change it to The Patriot for People Who Like A Highly Dramatized Version of History and Heath Ledger?

  8. king's quest  

    >take book

    "I'm not quite sure how to do that."

    >pick up book

    "That isn't going to help the situation."

    >grab book

    "That's not very polite."


    "There's no need to be rude."

    >get novel

    "You pick up the trashy novel and place it in your sachel." (+1 point)

  9. note to Bwog

    American Beauty is a shitty movie. it does not "critically examine" anything nor is it deep. it is a glib, superficial movie that all too eagerly divides people into deep souls worth saving (kevin spacey, wes bentley, thora birch), and empty, repressive conform-o-bots who are not (pretty much everyone else). were it not for kevin spacey's substantial charisma the movie would have nothing at all going for it, and even so it is pretty dire.

  10. also

    do "sorkophiles" really need you to keep recommending aaron sorkin movies to them? he has not made that many. stop advertising your own narrow, boring tastes.

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