This Fourth of July, here are 7 films about America to watch

This Fourth of July, here are 7 films about America to watch ...

What is the significance of a movie to be about America? It's not easy to answer it.

This July Fourth weekend, we have put together a group of movies we love that fits the budget (while trying to avoid the easy path of patriotic films). Rather, this is a group of movies that addressed the theme.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we welcome any nominations (especially outside the box ones) in the comments! While you're here, check out our list of the finest labor movies you can see at home, many of them would also be great fits here.

Black Panthers

Following the arrest of Huey P. Newton, French master Agnes Varda made this 28-minute documentary relatively early in her career. Vardas indelible style as a documentarian with a historical record of a moment and a location that is often excluded from American textbooks, the Black Panthers is a breathtaking portrait of a remarkable group of individuals trying to make a broken country a better place. Pete Volk

Black Panthers is available on HBO Max, the Criterion Channel, or for digital rental on Amazon.

David Byrnes American Utopia

Spike Lee directed this performance of David Byrnes' electric Broadway musical, filled with jubilant dance numbers and deep reflection on the country and world. It was one of Polygons' favorite films of 2020. PV

From our review:

The musical is intense and joyful, as performers follow Annie-B Parsons' choreography, caper, and cavort across the stage. They form a shape in Byrnes' hands, forming a stalemate of the present world, and the need to be kind to each other, and to do the work to produce a better future. The joy he can conjure up gives way to a larger sense of compassion that converts the instinct to dance and sing into the act.

Utopia, directed by David Byrnes, is available on HBO Max or for digital rental or purchase on Apple, Google Play, and other VOD vendors.

Minding the Gap

Bing Lius's debut documentary about his skateboarding-obsessed friends in Illinois was mentioned by multiple Polygon staffers in our picks for the best films of the 2010s, as well as in our list of the best sports movies, and our list of the best movies on Hulu. Minding the Gap: It's great! PV

Hulu has the option of watching Minding the Gap.

Southland Tales

The dreadful 2006 science fiction film by Richard Kellys (Donnie Darko) is unnervingly attuned to the entertainment industry, the military-industrial complex, and the American surveillance state. The film was not given a fair shake on its release, and frankly, was at least two decades ahead of its time. It is now seen as a prescient dystopia that is somehow equally scatterbrained and fatal focused.

Watch this hypnotic scene where Justin Timberlake, playing an Iraq War veteran who now deals drugs, mimes The Killers all these things that Ive done in a sequence that is almost like a music video. PV

Southland Tales is available on Starz Prime Video, for rent or for purchase online on Apple TV, Google Play, and other VOD retailers.

Killing Them Softly

Brad Pitt is supported by James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta in the 2012 neo-noir thriller. The film on the whole is fantastic, with excellent cinematography, excellent (albeit all too brief) supporting performances from James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta, and a chillingly intense climactic exchange between the two. To paraphrase Cogan: Were you living in America, and in America, you're on your own. Toussaint

Killing Them Softly is available on Hulu and FUBO TV, or for free with ads on Pluto TV, Plex, and Crackle.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

The Supreme Court changed Roe v. Wade's landmark 1973 decision that for over half a century upheld pregnant persons' rights to bodily autonomy in the choice of ending a pregnancy. Whats too often lost in the discussions over abortion rights is the individual stories of ordinary individuals who have been affected by it. Eliza Hittmans 2020 is a powerful, important, and necessary film, which is now poised to revolutionize American life.

Always is available for free with free with ads on Freevee, or for digital rentals or purchases on Apple, Google Play, and other VOD providers.

Pain & Gain

In this ripped-from-the-headlines satirical comedy, a group of bodybuilding idiots kidnaps one of their clients in hopes of making it big.

Michael Bays maximalism is a great match for Dwayne Johnson's most impressive actors (in one of his last roles), Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie. The result is Bays' most engaging film, with a surprising astute description of the American Dream's shortcomings, including the dangers that the program's access may cause. PV

On Prime Video and Paramount Plus, Pain & Gain is available for download.

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