Saturday, July 2, 2011

Here we are once again almost equidistant between the beginning and the end of the year and ready to celebrate our country’s birthday. Whether the first part of your year has been challenging or wonderful or both, the tradition of fireworks on July 4th is great inspiration to enjoy and make the best of the second part of the year.

Cinema Siren thought you might want a respite from all the blockbuster talk… (Michael Bay! J.J Abrams! It’s awful! It’s amazing! Must see! Must avoid!) Wouldn’t you enjoy instead a view of 10 great fireworks displays in the history of film? This list takes into consideration the hot summer weather, the deep seeded and tenacious desire in all of us to see an actually good movie. Believe me, there are plenty of great movies still out there to be seen, whether for the first time or the 10th.

So for this July 4th holiday movie viewing, here are my suggestions to you: 10 movies with fireworks, all of which in some way have inspired that same gut flutter, or awe, or excitement, that fireworks displays themselves create for their audiences.

10. Land of the Dead (2005): Zombies continue to be all the rage, and this film directed by king of the zombies George Romero stars Simon Baker (tasty Aussie actor from the Mentalist) John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper (who has the amusing quote “Zombies, man. They creep me out” ….Amen.) They use fireworks to distract and captivate the zombies so they can swoop in for the kill. For those who believe it isn’t summer without a good horror flick, or If the first part of the year makes you yearn for a bit of harmless zombie bloodsport, this movie is for you.

9. Count of Monte Cristo (2002): This lovely adaptation of the novel by Alexandre Dumas stars Jim Caviezel and Guy Pierce, in a swashbuckling revenge fantasy both beautifully filmed and acted. It has a great fireworks display during Caviazel’s dramatic first appearance as the Count. An exciting movie worth repeated viewing.
*note: pay attention to young Albert Mondego. He’s playing the new Superman.

8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix (2007): This summer is all about saying good bye to Harry Potter. Why not look back at one of the earlier films, including this moment of fun where the Weasley twins concoct a distraction for Miss Umbridge, by creating a fireworks display inside Hogwarts that simultaneously terrifies her and delights the students.

7. Return of the Jedi (1983): In the re-release of this Star Wars classic, the much discussed alternate ending has a great series of fireworks set off by the Rebel Alliance after defeating the Imperial Forces. After the more recent Star Wars releases, ROTJ may seem s bit low fi, but it has a heart older Star Wars lovers continue to appreciate and pass on to younger fans.

6. Summertime (1955): Katherine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi in a romantic drama taking place in Venice that fans of An Affair to Remember will love. Shot beautifully by director David Lean, the scene where they kiss against the night sky while fireworks erupt is romance legend.

5. Fellowship of the Ring (2001): Getting ready for The Hobbit? Just bought the whole LOTR special edition set with added scenes? Now is the time to watch Fellowship and enjoy the sweet fireworks festivities in the Shire. If you haven’t seen these movies, do it! It’s only getting hotter outside.

4. The Little Mermaid (1989): Animator superstar Glen Keane animated and Jodie Benson voiced the beloved character Ariel in this newer Disney classic, the last hand painted Disney movie, and one that has a huge fan following. The fireworks against the ship at the beginning marks a movie that truly celebrates what 2D animation can do.

3. Manhattan (1979): While it’s true a little Woody Allen can go a long way, if you have to pick one of his movies, pick Manhattan for its lush use of black and white and witty dialogue. The beginning, with its use of Rhapsody in Blue, scenes of all walks of life, and the fireworks over the skyline, is an unabashed love note to a city.

2. Holiday Inn (1942): Not strictly speaking a fireworks display, unless you consider, as i do, Fred Astaire’s tap dancing to qualify. Most people watch Holiday Inn around Christmas, but it takes place throughout the year, and Fred makes use of firecrackers in a tap dance that rivals the one where he’s walking on the ceiling in Royal Wedding. (*this is available for instant viewing on Netflix)

1. To Catch A Thief (1955): Without question the best use and most remembered scene using fireworks, this Hitchcock classic shows them both happening in the sky and between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Seeing these two legends of film making sparks fly onscreen in your own home after viewing your local pyrotechnics is a great way to end a July 4th celebration.