Ben Picks Ten: Films for the Fourth July 3, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
Tags: 1776, Abigail Adams, American Revolution, Ben Franklin, Glory, Independence Day, Jimmy Buffett, John Adams, Mma Ramotswe, patriotic movies, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Long Hot Summer
At our house, watching “Independence Day” on the Fourth of July is a family tradition. So our friend Ben decided to present my Top Ten list of great films to watch on the Fourth, in case you’re planning a little July Fourth Film Festival of your own. Maybe your family will pick a favorite and start their own tradition!
Here are my top picks:
Independence Day. The unlikely but lovable team of Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith save the world from evil aliens on the Fourth of July. Lots of good humor and camaraderie as well as epic battles. A must-see for us every July 4th.
1776. The beloved musical presents the Founding Fathers as they wrangle over the Declaration of Independence, face the prospect of war and a split from the Mother Country, and generally rub each other the wrong way. Highlights include (of course) our hero and blog mentor Benjamin Franklin and a classic role for Richard Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee.
John Adams. Okay, I’m cheating, since this is a series rather than a single movie. But if you want to really experience what it was like to live in Colonial times and post-Revolution America, don’t miss this marvelous series. Its realism is just riveting, down to the tiniest details. John Adams is an unlikely and unlikable hero, but strong appearances by Abigail Adams, George Washington, and Ben Franklin (who steals the show yet again) make this a series we want to own and watch again and again. Our friend Ben thinks every American should watch it at least once.
Glory. This stirring Civil War movie documents another revolution: the fight to free America from the abomination of slavery. It portrays the true story of the first Black U.S. battalion. This brutal but brilliant movie pulls no punches: There is no happy ending, so if this one’s your July 4th pick, consider yourself forewarned. But if you’re looking for bravery and valor, this movie would be hard if not impossible to beat.
The Long, Hot Summer. Don Johnson and Cybill Shepherd sizzle in the fantastic 1985 remake of the 1958 classic starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Based on a novel by famed author William Faulkner, this pre-air-conditioning look at Mississippi life during an unforgettable, sweltering summer will have you sweating as much as its characters. But you’ll love every steamy minute.
The Empire Strikes Back. Jedi knights strike a blow for galactic freedom as they take on the Evil Empire in my favorite of the Star Wars movies. May the Force be with you!
The Fellowship of the Ring. Humble hobbits battle the evil overlord Sauron for the freedom of their world in the first installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings.”
Jimmy Buffett Live in Anguilla. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Chill out with a margarita or bottle of Land Shark Lager and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Anguilla and the antics of the colorful and wacky Parrotheads on this live concert DVD. There are two CDs for the car, too, the best recording of Jimmy Buffett’s music our friend Ben has ever heard. So kick back, wiggle your toes in the sand, pig out on cheeseburgers and Junior Mints… but watch out for those land sharks!
Avatar. This time, the movie’s about struggling for planetary freedom and environmental wholeness as Good battles Greed. The computer-generated planet is light years beyond anything created before; it really has to be seen to be believed. And like the other movies here, there’s so much going on that every viewing shows you something new. Enjoy!
Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music. The revolution of the Hippies, the late-’60s/early ’70s Peace and Love generation, vegetarianism, the Back to the Land Movement, the Flower Children, and their flowering of clothing, art, ornamentation, and above all, music, is always worth revisiting. The Summer of Love may not have coincided with the Woodstock Festival in 1969, Joni Mitchell may have composed “Woodstock,” with the immortal line “We are stardust, we are golden,” having never been there, but this 1970 documentary captured the music, and the feeling, that sparked a genuine revolution in search of a better world. Hungry for more? Try Across the Universe and Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same for a real Sixties flashback.
And some very close runners up:
James Bond. When it comes to Bond, our friend Ben goes for the gold: Goldfinger, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Goldeneye. But all the James Bond movies make for entertaining summer fare, so pick your faves and settle down with a martini (shaken, not stirred).
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Mma Ramotswe is on the case in these episodes set in her beloved Botswana. Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood love Alexander McCall Smith’s novels and the subsequent film series. The action is low-key, but the temperature is hot!
Pirates of the Caribbean. Aaarrrrr! What’s summer without a good swashbuckler or two? Who could resist Cap’n Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, Davy Jones, Tia Dalma and the crew? My favorite is the first of the series, The Curse of the Black Pearl, but I think Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End are almost as much fun. Grab a bucket o’grog and plenty of pirattitude and enjoy ‘em, you savvy?!
That’s it for us. What are your favorite summer movies?!