What to watch this Fourth of July weekend? There are, of course, those obvious holiday-title perennials, "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Independence Day" (the misbegotten "Independence Day: Resurgence," not so much).
Maybe it's the mood of the moment, but the five films I'm recommending here offer tougher, more conflicted visions, and some are patriotic precisely because they subject the very notion of patriotism to critical scrutiny.
"25th Hour." A hilariously profane diatribe attacking every class and color in America's melting pot is the scalding, ultimately bracing centerpiece of this wrenching New York elegy. It's the most cathartic of post-9/11 movies, and an "Hour" that may well be Spike Lee's finest.
“Blow Out.” A tribute to the mechanics of filmmaking, yes, but
"Flags of Our Fathers." Now is as good a time as any to revisit Clint Eastwood's thorny rumination on the uses and abuses of war heroism. (Watch it on a double bill with his "Letters From Iwo Jima," which is even better.)
“Jaws.” A grisly Fourth of July weekend sets up the premise of
"Rio Bravo." Fashioned as a rejoinder to the lone-wolf posturing of "High Noon," Howard Hawks' 1959 masterwork is the wisest and warmest of American westerns, a movie that exalts rather than scorns human frailty. To watch it is to be reminded that we really are in this together.