Saturday, July 1, 2017

But I Digress... May the Fourth Be With You

By Cat


As a change of pace, this weekend’s Holiday Digression is going to feature not 10, 20, or even 5 movies that fit the occasion. I decided that this time less was more – we’re highlighting 4 movies for the Fourth of July. These may not be the absolute be-all and end-all of patriotic movies, but they’re significant to me in various ways and feel appropriate to the season as well as the exploration of freedom and fighting for it. 

Some of these films might be available in select theaters during this season, but you would need to check your local listings due to the limited release. 

4) Stand By Me (1986)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Rob Reiner
Actors: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko, John Cusack, Gary Riley
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 89 minutes
More Information Here.

IMDb Blurb: After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy.

This movie is one of my favorites of all time. The cast is spectacular, the writing phenomenal, and the soundtrack brings it all together. This coming-of-age tale is one for the ages, really. It's a film that gives you a slice of Americana from yester-year as well as filling you with a sense of adventure. It deftly encapsulates the thrill of testing the boundaries of taboo, and the bond of friendship - especially the ones we cultivate when we're young.

Of course a 'where are they now' look at the cast is rather bittersweet, having lost River Phoenix (Little Nikita, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Sneakers) far before his time. If you've got older children in their teens, this movie might be a good starter for testing the waters of Rated R content. It's mainly for language, some violence considered mild by today's standards, smoking, and the like. There's nothing really raunchy in it aside from a smidge of adolescent toilet humor. The film just exudes the feeling of 'summer,' and fits perfectly with this holiday timeframe - especially if you're not in the mood for something overtly patriotic.

3) Independence Day (1996)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, YouTube (purchase), BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Roland Emmerich
Actors: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Length: 145 minutes
More Information Here.

IMDb Blurb: The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive.

The debate is on whether or not the sequel to this movie was as good as or better than the first - forget all that for now. You could watch either and enjoy yourself, really. For this list, though, I'm focusing on the original. I was working at an AMC Theater (my high school job) when this movie came out. The tim?ing of this film's release was on point. Everything about this movie was cool back then, and still feels that way now. Of course, some of it is goofy and a little cheesy. That's the point, though! This is one of those films that's there for entertainment more than trying to spark introspection. Forget the deep thoughts and just enjoy the thought of fighting flying saucers and some action-movie style fireworks that are all about the fire and less about the flare.

2) The Patriot (2000)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, YouTube (purchase), BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Roland Emmerich
Actors: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Chris Cooper, Tchéky Karyo, Rene Auberjonois, Lisa Brenner
Genre: Historical Drama, War, Action
Rated: R
Length: 164 minutes
More Information Here.

IMDb Blurb: Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

It wouldn't be a 4th of July list without something giving a nod to the United States' fight for independence. This is one of my favorite Revolutionary War period pieces. It's Mel Gibson (Braveheart, Signs, Blood Father) and Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale, The Order) at their best. Of course, this is our second entry that is bittersweet for the untimely loss of a treasured actor. I promise I'm going to stop tugging at 'the feels' for now, though - at least for that reason.

While I can't recall off the top of my head whether or not 'The Ghost' was an actual person from the Revolutionary War, I do remember The Swamp Fox; and this movie reminds me of those stories. Have some tissues on hand while watching this one. It's inspiring, heartbreaking, and on point for the meaning behind this upcoming holiday.

1) Born on the 4th of July (1989)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, YouTube (purchase), BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Oliver Stone
Actors: Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, Kyra Sedgwick, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava, Bryan Larkin, Jerry Levine, Josh Evans
Genre: Biography, Drama, War
Rated: R
Length: 145 minutes
More Information Here.

IMDb Blurb: The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.

OK, so this is my only soapboxy entry for this holiday compilation. There's a strong anti-war message here, but at the same time it's highly patriotic. This biopic is gritty and captures the essence of the Vietnam War era. It's not as humorous as, say, Forrest Gump (1994) but I honestly don't think that a 4th of July list is complete without a nod to the movie telling the story of someone born on America's birthday and with an important story to tell.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of movies to get you in the mood for the holiday. Whatever you have planned for this weekend or the 4th of July, itself; have fun, stay safe, and enjoy the federal holiday (if you’re in The States).

If you plan to light fireworks to celebrate the holiday, please take care to contact any neighbors that are combat veterans to let them know ahead of time so they can plan. Not every veteran experiences PTSD and it doesn’t present itself in the same way for everyone that suffers from it. Sure, they probably already realize it’s going to be a noisy night – but just one moment of your time could make all the difference in saving someone from experiencing a waking nightmare.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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