Don’t Want to Watch the Inauguration? Same Here.

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My husband and I went to see Hidden Figures yesterday. It’s a very good movie, and I highly recommend it. When it was over, the audience applauded – that doesn’t happen often.

I’ve seen movies since the election. Some have been funny but a bit mindless (Office Christmas Party) and some have been deeper but somewhat dark (Manchester By the Sea).  Hidden Figures was engrossing, it had humor, but it also was about a piece of American history that had nothing to do with the damn electionAnd that may be one of the reasons people clapped.

It was good to watch the story of the critical but unsung contributions that African-American women made to the space program – and not only did they make those contributions, they almost had to beg to make them. These women didn’t just go above and beyond to do their jobs, they went above and beyond just to have the right to do their jobs.

It also occurred to me that some of us (okay, several dozen million of us) have a tough date coming up: This Friday, January 20. Inauguration Day for Don the Con.

That day, and that evening, the news will be filled with news of the inauguration: Trump’s horrific speech, the paucity of the crowd, the kazoos and karaoke that will be needed to augment the fact that few self-respecting performers will go near D.C. that day, much less perform in any inauguration-related events. Okay, maybe my perspective colors the foregoing just a little. But you get the idea.

By the way, a disclaimer:  Friday evening, my local PBS affiliate is running an Alicia Keys concert as part of their Great Performances series, followed by an episode of American Masters about playwright August Wilson (who wrote Fences, recently brought to the screen by Denzel Washington).  Not too shabby at all, and it could be worth checking your local listing.

That aside, here are some ideas for Friday, Friday evening and the weekend:

  • See Hidden Figures.
  • Binge watch Parks and Recreation on either Netflix or Hulu Plus. Sure, it’s about small town, semi-dysfunctional government, but you get Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer and Leslie Knope. Plus, starting late in Season 2, you’ll see Rob Lowe giving “literally” a whole new pronunciation every time he says it, which is frequently.
  • Binge watch The West Wing on Netflix. Government as it should be.
  • If you have HBO, watch Season 1 of The Newsroom on HBOGO or HBONOW. Media as it should be.
  • If you have Amazon Prime, take advantage of the Amazon Video feature and watch Seasons 1 and 2 of Veep. It’s a darkly comedic glimpse into how an ego-driven highly placed government official operates. When it first aired, I figured it was a take on how Sarah Palin would have been as Vice President. Now it seems Trumpian.
  • If you have HBO (use HBOGO or HBONOW) or want to buy something to binge-watch, watch Season 5 of Veep. There’s a reason Julia Louis-Dreyfus keeps winning those Emmys. Plus, the arc for Season 5 is a Presidential election that’s even more fucked up than the 2016 one was.
  • Read Why Not Me by Al Franken. He wrote it before he even dreamed of running for the Senate, and it’s a hilarious (fictional) account of his run for the presidency in 2000 on the Democratic ticket. His platform is protesting ATM fees, and he goes after bank-loving Al Gore in the primaries.

Finally, here are some movies that will remind you that being American is something to respect, warts and all. A couple are available on for streaming on either Netflix or Hulu Plus, if you subscribe to either. Some are available for DVD or Blu-Ray purchase on Amazon at prices that are lower than a movie ticket – all are in inventory and available via Amazon Prime, so you can get them by Friday if you’re a Prime member or want to pay extra for two-day shipping (order soon!). Nearly all are available for rental on either Amazon Video or iTunes for less than $5.00.

This isn’t all-encompassing. They’re just titles that occurred to me after I watched Hidden Figures. Not every title is for everyone – for example, while I think Saving Private Ryan is a pretty amazing movie and I’ve watched it several times, I have never watched the first 20 or 30 minutes. And there are other titles that I realize I omitted, like Glory and ArgoMaybe Rocky.

All that said, though, here is the list:

MOVIE TITLE   SYNOPSIS/WHY IT’S ON THE LIST   WATCH IT VIA ……
42: The Jackie Robinson Story Jackie Robinson, one of baseball’s greats, was the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues, and endured racism and hatred with dignity and, when possible, equanimity. Kind of like someone else …. Based on a true story. Blu-Ray is $4.00 on Amazon (DVD is $4.99). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Air Force One Harrison Ford as POTUS kicks some bad guy butt (“Get. Off. My. Plane.”).     *sigh* Streams free on Hulu Plus for subscribers. DVD is $6.59 on Amazon ($7.79 for Blu-Ray). Rent on iTunes for $3.99.
All The President’s Men Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, reporters for the Washington Post who uncovered the Watergate story. This is why bad people in public life hate the media, but why the press is vital to democracy.  And to impeachment. *sigh* Based on a true story. Blu-Ray is $8.49 on Amazon (DVD is $8.79). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
The American President It’s like The West Wing as a feature movie (screenplay by Aaron Sorkin).   Michael Douglas plays POTUS, Annette Bening plays the environmental lobbyist in whom he takes an interest, Martin Sheen is Chief of Staff and Michael J. Fox is a senior advisor.  Oh, and Richard Dreyfuss plays Dick Cheney. Okay, maybe not Cheney himself, but a very Cheney-like person. DVD is $7.99 on Amazon (Blu-Ray is $8.99). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Dave In this comedy, Kevin Kline plays a regular guy who owns a temporary staffing agency but bears a striking resemblance to the U.S. President, which POTUS Chief of Staff Frank Langella exploits. Sigourney Weaver plays the FLOTUS. DVD is $7.89 on Amazon ($9.99 for Blu-Ray). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Good Night, and Good Luck David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow and George Clooney as news producer Fred Friendly help topple opportunistic demogague Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch hunts of the 1950’s. Based on a true story. Blu-Ray is $9.99 on Amazon (DVS is $10.66 but inventory is low). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Independence Day Americans lead the world in kicking alien invader butt.   Is anything else ever really needed for a good movie night? 🙂 DVD is $5.00, Blu-Ray is $7.99 on Amazon. Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
A League of their Own If very little is more American than baseball (see The Natural), then the America quotient is upped by ladies stepping up to play professional baseball during World War II. Based on a true story. DVD is $5.19 on Amazon (Blu-Ray is $14.94). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler Forest Whitaker plays a White House butler who serves eight Presidents over his career, during times of tumultuous change in the U.S.   Based on a true story. Streams free on Netflix for subscribers. DVD is $10.04 on Amazon. Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Lincoln Steven Spielberg’s production centers around Daniel Day-Lewis’ masterful portrayal of the 16th U.S. President. Based on a true story. DVD + Blu-Ray Combo $8.99 on Amazon. Rent for $3.99 on Amazon Video or iTunes.
Miracle It’s the 1980 U.S. Olympics Hockey team! It’s Kurt Russell playing their coach, Herb Brooks!   What’s not to love?! Based on a true story. DVD is $5.99 on Amazon. Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
The Natural Arguably the best baseball movie ever made, and very little is more American than baseball. The spectacular ending nearly always makes me cry. Blu-Ray is $9.49 on Amazon (DVD is $9.99). Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Raiders of the Lost Ark It’s Harrison Ford as Dr. Indiana Jones (everybody forgets the “Doctor” part) teaming up with the U.S. government to fight the Nazis in the ’30’s to gain possession of the Ark of the Covenant.   Has such an oddball summary ever been written about a movie that works as well as this one does? Streams free on Hulu Plus for subscribers. DVD is $9.98 (DVD + Blu-Ray Combo is $14.89) on Amazon. Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.
Saving Private Ryan Each time I’ve watched this, I’ve never been able to watch the first 20 minutes or so, but – to me – when we recognize our military and our veterans for their service, it’s for what’s in this movie. It’s gripping and it’s about everyday Americans, heroes by virtue of the world they fight to save. DVD + Blu-Ray Combo $14.15 on Amazon. Rent for $3.99 on Amazon Video or iTunes.
Selma Story of the march from Selma to Montgomery, AL led by Martin Luther King, Jr. to secure voting rights for African-American.   Based on a true story. Streams free on Hulu Plus for subscribers. DVD is $8.63 on Amazon ($13.90 for Blu-Ray).   Rent on iTunes and Amazon Video for $3.99.
Star Wars (A New Hope) Because the good guys win. And because you know, from start to finish, with no ambiguity, who the good guys are.   It’s like an old Western set in space.   What kind of person doesn’t want to yell “Yippee!” at the end? Sadly, the best option appears to purchase this via download from iTunes or Amazon Video for about $20.
To Kill a Mockingbird Because this is a list of classic American movies where the heroes do right. Watch it or read the book. Really. Streams free on Netflix for subscribers. DVD is $7.50 on Amazon. Rent on Amazon Video or iTunes for $3.99.

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