Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

Moulin Rouge

Ambitious, daring, energetic, and entertaining —Marty Mapes (review...)

Everybody comes to the Moulin Rouge

" Someone who honestly thinks the other 95% of us suffer from some mass delusion "
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This year, the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday. It doesn’t make a nice three-day weekend, so maybe you won’t be able to get out and see America’s splendor first-hand. In fact, you might end up staying home and watching a movie (after the fireworks, of course).

To assist you in the choice of a suitably patriotic post-fireworks movie, the Movie Habit staff (including our very own John Adams) have evaluated some American — and some American-sounding — movies for your Independence Day celebrations.

The Movie:

Irony, mystery, and poetry, liven up this space-western musical
Irony, mystery, and poetry, liven up this space-western musical

The American Astronaut, in which a space Capitalist wins a dance contest, transports a cat, and delivers The Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman’s Breast.

The “American” Angle:

Well, it does say “American” in the title, and “Astronaut” is what we called our brave space pioneers (not “Cosmonauts” like some former superpowers). Also, I’ll bet there isn’t a film-goer in the world that wouldn’t recognize the people in this film as Americans (not counting the gray area that is Canada of course).

Is it Patriotic?

Not particularly.

Is it definitively American?

See above. Also there is more than a hint of good old self-reliant entrepreneurial trickery. If space is colonized by America, it’ll look like this.

Watch it after the fireworks?

You bet. Heck, watch it anytime for the songs alone. I say “Hey Boy!”.

The Movie

American Beauty, in which Kevin Spacey seduces a very young Mena Suvari.

The “American” Angle

The title has at least two meanings, but one of them is just a variety of rose, which has very little to do with this nation.

Is it Patriotic?

Not particularly. Other than the setting, it has little to do with national politics or identity.

Is it definitively American?

Not really. If anything, the older man’s affair with a teenage girl seems almost French (although Chris Cooper’s macho, military, anti-gay character is pretty distinctly American).

Watch it after the fireworks?

No, probably not. Save it for Bastille Day, 10 days later.

The Movie

American History X, in which Edward Norton plays a horrible skinhead who indoctrinates his little brother into his world of hate.

The “American” Angle

It’s not actually about American History; its weighty title has more to do with the writer/director’s sense of self-importance.

Is it Patriotic?

Not really. If this is America, we ought to be ashamed.

Is it definitively American?

Unfortunately, yes. Though racism is not purely American, our history of slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow ensures that we will have more than our share of racial problems for generations to come.

Watch it after the fireworks?

It’s a pretty explosive movie, so maybe it would go well with fireworks. It’s difficult to watch, but it’s also very hard to dismiss.

The Movie

Lamerica, in which an Italian goes to Albania to scam some foreign aid money and gets caught up in the civil unrest there.

The “American” Angle

The metaphor of the title is that the Albanians yearn to get to Italy the way some Italians yearned to get to the United States a century ago.

Is it Patriotic?

No, although immigrants can sometimes be the most patriotic of citizens. Also, after watching the civil unrest depicted in in this movie, you will probably feel very grateful that you live in America.

Is it definitively American?

Nope. Only metaphorically.

Watch it after the fireworks?

If you’re in an introspective mood.

The Movie

Team America kicks terrorist ass!
Team America kicks terrorist ass!

Team America: World Police, in which a team of bad-ass American puppets saves the world from puppet-bad guys, and liberal puppet celebrities.

The “American” Angle

The puppet good guys are the personification of 50+ years of American foreign policy.

Is it Patriotic?

To quote the movie’s theme song, “America, F&&k Yeah!”

Is it definitively American?

It’s crude, rude and hilarious, f##k yeah!

Watch it after the fireworks?

You bet! Then go set off some of your own.

The Movie

Another Von Trier experiment in style and storytelling
Another Von Trier experiment in style and storytelling

Dogville, in which director Lars Von Trier, who is afraid of flying and who has never set foot in America, tells the world what’s wrong with America.

The “American” Angle

Dogville is part of Von Trier’s promised “USA Trilogy.”

Is it Patriotic?

Nope. The movie is very critical of American culture. And although there is a photo montage over the end credits of squalid Americans, the movie didn’t defend them against oppressors; instead, it attacked the ugliness of their small-town mentality.

Is it definitively American?

The social criticism has more to do with rural living than with American life per se, so no, it’s not.

Watch it after the fireworks?

Not unless you can stay up another three hours.

The Movie

Forrest Gump, in which a simpleton rises to the status of folk hero, hobnobbing with politicians, eatin’ shrimp, and sinking his money in the right stock at the right time.

The “American” Angle

The movie is a wonderful salute to — and time capsule of — the United States in the last half of the 20th century.

Is it Patriotic?

Yes. Run, Forrest, run!

Is it definitively American?

Yes. Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis deftly take Forrest through all sorts of highs and lows in the American experience using innovative American cinematic technology.

Watch it after the fireworks?

Sure. With a box of chocolates.

The Movie

Only the very good guys wear this much white
Only the very good guys wear this much white

Lemonade Joe, an old school 1960’s Commie/Czech parody of the singing cowboy western.

The “American” Angle

It’s as much about American consumerism as it is about singing cowboys. From where the filmmakers were standing, that was too fine a hair to split.

Is it Patriotic?

Sure, if you hail from an old Warsaw Pact country. Over here it might take your mind off Iraq and back to those glory days when Ron brought down The Wall. Or maybe it’s another chance to laugh at the Reds. Might as well make it a double feature with One Two Three.

Is it definitively American?

Definitely not.

Watch it after the fireworks?

Naw. Get out your copy of Sands of Iwo Jima instead.

The Movie

The Natural, in which a sidetracked athlete gets one more chance to bask in the sun and celebrity of baseball.

The “American” Angle

It’s the story of America’s favorite pastime (yes, baseball).

Is it Patriotic?

Sort of. It’s a great story of the American spirit and drive, as well as the age-old story of following one’s bliss.

Is it definitively American?

Yes. There’s nothing more American than baseball, Apple pie, and Chevrolet. The movie is also a very faithful adaptation of Bernard Malamud’s novel. Well, faithful, that is, right up to the ending, which is radically different from the book. But it works.

Watch it after the fireworks?

It’s a possibility. The movie itself ends with fireworks, of sorts, but since it’s a slow-paced drama; maybe save it for the wee hours, after the rush from the fireworks has worn off.

The Movie

Christopher Reeve was a great Superman and a true hero
Christopher Reeve was a great Superman and a true hero

Superman: The Movie, in which the man in blue tights develops a crush on a female reporter for a large metropolitan newspaper and… uh… saves the world from a madman.

The “American” Angle:

A boy is rocketed off from his dying planet to Earth, or more precisely, Smallville, USA, where he can get a new start and thrive in the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan megalopolis called Metropolis. It’s the ultimate immigrant story.

Is it Patriotic?

Heck yeah! The dude fights for truth, justice, and the American way.

Is it definitively American?

Historically, comic books have their roots in Belgium, but Superman was most definitely born in the USA. He started out as a hero of hope during the Great Depression and has been an American icon ever since.

Watch it after the fireworks?

Yes. Chances are the fireworks display will use John Williams’ Superman march at some point during the evening, so why not top it off with the movie?