Sunday, May 18, 2008

America: Heck Yeah! (Updated and bumped!)

I have often maintained that America needs immigrants because, well, that's where Americans come from: some place else.

Living in L.A. my whole life, I have no doubt that the vast majority of Hispanics who come here embody the American spirit--the willingness and drive to improve their lives for their future generations--in many ways better than we do. Most of us born here are too busy enjoying the lives our ancestors made for us to really have the same hunger, certainly not with the desperation someone from an impoverished or war-torn country does. And when they get here, it's not uncommon for them to express an admiration and defensiveness of the country we don't, or are reluctant to.

But the cinema is well-informed with anti-American propaganda, so much so that the occasional potshot (the obese, obnoxious tourists in In Bruges) hardly goes noticed.

But a pro-America attitude, or even friendly expression, does get noticed, at least by me, and it makes me feel good when it does happen.

But as I'm writing this I can only think of a few recent examples.

The World's Fastest Indian -- The Anthony Hopkins movie about the kiwi who comes to America to race has him encountering all kinds of generous Americans who help him get to his destination.

Tracy Ullman: Live and Exposed -- I like Tracy's act more sometimes than others, but her performance chops get better and better over time, which is really apparent in this show. When she ended it with a salute to America, I found myself surprised and surprisingly warmed.

Schultze Gets the Blues -- I love this deliberate (slow moving) picture of a retired German salt miner who becomes obsessed with zydeco and journeys to America to experience it first-hand. But what makes it especially wonderful is the warm welcome Schultze gets when he journeys through the bayous.

The Visitor -- I haven't seen it, but I'm hoping that a movie that is so transparently about the harshness of the immigration and naturalization services has to acknowledge the fact that America must be well worth coming to. I'll review it in a few days.

Sad that I can't think of any more off-hand, especially with all the foreign movies I've seen. But maybe I'm missing some?

Victoria offers these suggestions:

Three films on this topic come two mind:

I Remember Mama

Similar theme, Sweet Land

About Indians, The Namesake
Along with the Eddie Murphy classic Coming to America, which she rightly pegs as Eddie Murphy's last great movie.

Hector says:

Maybe I need to watch Stroszek again. That was cheerful, wasn't it? An accordion, a dancing chicken… A whole lot of Wisconsin… it's been a while.

Y'know, Fritz Lang didn't make a lot of happy-happy joy-joy movies.

Trooper offers up this from Scarface:

Immigration Officer #2: So where's your old man now?
Tony Montana: He dead. He die. Sometime. Somewhere.
Immigration Officer #2: Mother?
Tony Montana: She dead too.
Immigration Officer #1: What kind of work you do in Cuba, Tony?
Tony Montana: Ah, you know, things. I was, uh - This, that. Construction business. I work a lot with my hands. I was in the army.
Immigration Officer #1: Any family in the States, Tony? Any cousins, brother-in-law, anybody?
Tony Montana: Nobody. Everybody's dead.
Immigration Officer #1: You ever been to jail, Tony?
Tony Montana: Me? Jail? No way. No.
Immigration Officer #1: Been in a mental hospital?
Tony Montana: Oh, yeah. On the boat coming over.

True confession time: Though I am a long-time De Palma fan, I have never seen Scarface. And I'm kinda off him since that abomination that was Redacted, so I may never see it!

8 comments:

  1. Great topic! You and Ron from Althouse are kindered souls, in terms of cinema-blogging.

    Three films on this topic come two mind:

    I Remember Mama

    Similar theme, Sweet Land

    About Indians, The Namesake

    Let me think of more. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    ReplyDelete
  2. Best immigrant movie, Scarface.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Immigration Officer #2: So where's your old man now?
    Tony Montana: He dead. He die. Sometime. Somewhere.
    Immigration Officer #2: Mother?
    Tony Montana: She dead too.
    Immigration Officer #1: What kind of work you do in Cuba, Tony?
    Tony Montana: Ah, you know, things. I was, uh - This, that. Construction business. I work a lot with my hands. I was in the army.
    Immigration Officer #1: Any family in the States, Tony? Any cousins, brother-in-law, anybody?
    Tony Montana: Nobody. Everybody's dead.
    Immigration Officer #1: You ever been to jail, Tony?
    Tony Montana: Me? Jail? No way. No.
    Immigration Officer #1: Been in a mental hospital?
    Tony Montana: Oh, yeah. On the boat coming over.
    (Scarface, 1983)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh! How could I forget. One of my favourite 'feel good' movies:

    Coming to America

    That was Eddie Murphy's last real hurrah, when he was half-way decent. Sure, it's a silly farce, but at heart it shows you the America that allows you to see what you're made of.

    A little bit of a cheat, though, since IIRC, he went back to Africa and didn't really emigrate to the US.

    But who can not love a film which has this line:

    "The royal penis is clean, your Highness."

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    ReplyDelete
  5. Maybe I need to watch Stroszek again. That was cheerful, wasn't it? An accordion, a dancing chicken… A whole lot of Wisconsin… it's been a while.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Victoria,

    I think Ron and I are kindred souls, in the sense that we have to put boobs on our page or we have no traffic. :-)

    Ah! The Namesake! Excellent, excellent movie that was overlooked...last year or the year before?

    I'm gonna update with all your suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stroszek was Werner Herzog, not Fritz Lang. We've just been talking about Lang so much lately that you're seeing him everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  8. More seriously, a great movie about coming to America: Enchanted. What else is it about? And let's not forget West Side Story. Nice counterpoint in that, the men are negative, the women positive.

    ReplyDelete

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