Here's something I've been thinking about for the past few months. What films out there portray Anglo/American relations? The U.S. and the U.K. get along fairly well okay as political allies, but in films, directors and writers like to examine our cultural divide, often with amusing results. Here, the list I've come up with. Do you have any films to add?
1. The Patriot - I watched this film with my youngest brother when he was 10 or so and remember explaining to him that we once hated the British, going so far to bring him over to the Old North Bridge in nearby Concord to give him a little learnin'. I love The Patriot because there are so very few films that explore this time in American history. Bonus: it's also the late Heath Ledger's breakout film.
2. Bridget Jones's Diary - Much furor arose over an American movie star (Renee Zellweger) playing a beloved British book character. But I think, as do a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic, she killed the part. Score one for the U.S.! Bonus: Hugh Grant finally breaks out of character and plays a sleazebag.
3. Notting Hill - British bookstore owner (Hugh Grant) falls in love with an American movie star (Julia Roberts). Hilarity ensues. Truth be told, I didn't enjoy this film when it came out. Maybe I should give it another try because it ends up on a lot of favorite rom/com lists. I guess I should also add Four Weddings and a Funeral here as Hugh Grant, yet again, ends up with an American, played by the wooden Andi McDowell.
4. A Fish Called Wanda - My husband and I firmly disagree on this film. I think it's one of the funniest movies ever -- brilliant even -- and I watch it whenever I need a good laugh. He had to leave the room at the fish scene and it has caused him to distrust my taste in movies ever since. There's lots of good stuff in this film about what it means to be British and it pokes fun at the stereotypical ugly (stupid) American. Kevin Kline steals the show. Best lines:
Archie: I used to box for Oxford.
Otto: Oh yeah? I used to the kill for the CIA.
5. An American Werewolf in London -- I never get sick of this film and watch it every couple of years. Although it's 30 years old, the makeup and special effects are still awesome. Great shots of the Moors and London's Underground -- you'll never want to travel the Tube at night after seeing this movie. Beyond being gross, it's funny and charming: "A naked American man stole my balloons." And a confession: I used to have a major crush on David Naughton. Anyone remember him in the Dr. Pepper ads of the 70s?
6. The Ghost Writer -- I don't admire Roman Polanski as a man, but he's a fantastic director. The Ghost Writer was one of my favorite films released last year. There was a nearly palpable anti-American feeling to this film -- from the stony, cold exterior shots* to the portrayal of nearly every American character in the story.
*Since Polanski runs the risk of arrest should he set foot on American soil, scenes that portray Martha's Vineyard and suburban Boston (Newton) were shot in northern Germany.