Weekend Rentals: July 4th Edition
Written by Bwog Staff
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