Video Picks

America has gained a new popularity with young and old alike. They can’t get enough of it. Flags adorn mini-vans right next to the clinging Garfield and “my child is an honor student at George W. Bush Jr. High School.” This patriotism lies not with the usual weekend warriors who sport camouflage but with regular folk as well.

The events of Sept. 11 should not be taken lightly, but maybe some people should consider the possibility that painting your house red white and blue is going a little overboard. Why not show your patriotism in a more discrete way by renting movies with the word American in the title? You won’t be disappointed; the number of films available is overwhelming.

“American Movie” is one of the funniest documentaries out there. The story follows a low-budget filmmaker named Mark as he tries to finish his first film entitled “Coven” (that’s koe-ven, not cuh-ven). The completion of this first feature will allow Mark to finance his opus “Northwestern.”

Mark is unabashedly trashy and has a friend who is ridiculously mentally inept thanks to some long nights spent with Mr. Bojangles. The camera follows him from the airport parking lot where he sits in his rusted out POS trying to finish his script, to the mortuary where he works as a night janitor.

Mark is brutally honest about the reality of his struggles. Not everyone can make a movie like Steven Spielberg; it is especially hard for a 30-ish guy with no film school training and practically no money. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you, now go see it.

Annette Benning’s character in the film “American Beauty” is the reason that middle-aged men have crises and teenaged girls hate themselves. Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Lester is alternately pathetic and strangely uplifting.

This film garnered many awards and accolades, and for good reason. It makes the saying “looks can be deceiving” an incredible understatement. The neighbor boy is so foxy you’ll want to have “like 10,000 of his babies.”

“American Pie” and “American Pie 2” are both so over-sexualized it’s a wonder that most of the teenage boys and girls who go into the theater don’t end up blind from masturbation before the closing credits roll. If everyone were as inept as the main character (Jim) when it came to self-pleasure, the Catholics wouldn’t have anything to worry about. It is absolutely absurd to even think that someone could be so stupid as to glue his penis to his own hand, but I suppose anything is possible. These two movies have some laughs, but the casting of Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad is the only reason to watch either one.

George Lucas made the film “American Graffiti” following the commercial failure of his first film “THX 1138.” “Graffiti” is one of the best “teen” movies. The film has a really impressive line-up including Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams and Suzanne Sommers. Lucas seemed to have an eye for actors who would go on to commercial success.

The movie is essentially about cruising, a lost art. The kids in this movie are mostly just hanging out at the burger joint and driving around with the occasional life decision made along the way. I highly recommend it for the natural acting that Lucas gets from the young players because of his non-intrusive style.

“American Gigolo” is hot, hot, hot. I don’t care what anybody says about Richard Gere and rodents; I think this is a good movie. Can everybody please stop “hatin'” on poor Richard? I think it’s time.

I am sure that there are a few that I left out, most importantly “American Me” starring Edward James Olmos. I haven’t seen it but I have heard great things about it. Maybe someone could watch it and let me know what they think. I won’t listen to your opinion, but it would be a good try just the same.

Thank you and have a good time at the video store. Do try to stay out of the room marked “for adults only,” you won’t need it if you rent “American Pie.”