Jan 15

American Poll

Do You See15 comments • 512 views

baghdad barber In what is not remotely an attempt to fill in space before Popular comes back at the weekend, we present an important POLL concerning the word “American” as used in film titles. Obviously this is topical, thanks to the Oscar nominations received by AMERICAN SNIPPER, the gentle Clint Eastwood comedy about a guy helping out the people of war-torn Iraq by opening up a barbers shop (pictured). But there have been a lot of other films using this naming convention and now is your chance to determine which of them are GOOD. (You can pick five). Pete is promising a thinkpiece on this very topic so fill the comments boxes and he can nick your ideas. Also you can name the ones we forgot. And argue the merits of “American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt” and “American Ninja 4: The Annihilation”, for that matter.

Which 5 of these AMERICAN films are best?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 1
    Rory on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Good to see American History X creeping up. One of Edward Norton’s best performances. He was on fire in 1998-99.

  2. 2
    Andrew Farrell on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Peeeeete, now that word has lost all meaning.

    Missing (and better than all except 3): The American Astronaut.

  3. 3
    Tom on 27 Jan 2015 #

    I never saw American Beauty, and was under the impression it had rather lost its reputation over time, on account of being too dadcore. But perhaps not (or perhaps that would make our voters like it MORE, certainly a possibility),

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 27 Jan 2015 #

    If I were running this poll I would have taken out anything that doesn’t start with the word American – qualifying articles spoil the brain-numbing symmetry. Also I can’t believe we have An American Werewolf In London without An American Werewolf In Paris.

  5. 5
    Tim on 27 Jan 2015 #

    The American President is West Wing: the Movie, for what it’s worth. I like Corbijn’s The American, but then I’ve always had a weakness for stories about hitmen.

  6. 6
    Tom on 27 Jan 2015 #

    #4 I have edited the poll to make it more brain-numbing

  7. 7
    weej on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Please don’t deny us the pleasure of giving 0% to An American Carol.

  8. 8
    Mark M on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Re3: Yes, that’s was my feeling too – ‘instant classic’ quickly downgraded when people realised that it was often laughable (the much-parodied plastic bag scene) or tedious (the whole of the main bloke’s midlife crisis and sexually fantasising, all very sub-Updike and Roth, as if those guys weren’t bad enough). And that people also realised that Mendes is a lousy film director.
    But clearly not.

  9. 9
    Tommy Mack on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Yeah, he realises he’s wasted his life in a tedious job, pursuing a hollow suburban ideal of the good life but if his reponse upon awakening is to be a prick to his wife and sleaze onto his daughter’s friend then perhaps he wasn’t cut out for anything much more life-affirming in the first place. All the other characters were quite interesting though with the possible exception of plastic bag boy.

    Gotta say, the one Updike I’ve ever read, Of The Farm (which cost me £20 after I lost it inside a suitcase and had to pay brutal reparations to Wimbledon library), I found quite compelling, despite it definitely being guilty of male midlife crisis sulkfest.

  10. 10
    Mark M on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Re9: I occasionally feel I should give Updike another go now that I am middle-aged, but there’s always something more appealing to read first.

  11. 11
    Mark M on 27 Jan 2015 #

    Disappointed by the lack of love for American Movie so far.

  12. 12
    swanstep on 28 Jan 2015 #

    Yes, ‘American_______ ‘ titles are very odd. Filmmakers from other countries somehow manage to tell important stories without presuming or appending specifically national significance. Evidently since at least the revolutionary/founding fathers generation a big part of being American has been to bang on about being American, and this titling trend (which only really kicked off in the ’70s with ‘American Graffiti’, itself a lovely, unpompous title) manifests and continues that self-obsessed, self-mythologizing streak in the national character.

  13. 13
    Rory on 28 Jan 2015 #

    Well, Baz Luhrmann had a crack at it with Australia, and there’s This is England, The English Patient, Johnny English, and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, but yeah, not much competition really.

    I’d give An American Werewolf a pass for being about a national abroad rather than Being American, and American Pie half a pass for being named after a much older song. Not that the song itself gets a pass—in fact, that may well have inspired George Lucas’s title for American Graffiti. It’s all Don Maclean’s fault!

  14. 14
    Mark M on 29 Jan 2015 #

    I do think that films with an article (definite or indefinite) before ‘American’ are innocent bystanders here – it’s descriptive rather than declamatory. Although in The American Friend, Ripley is far from incidentally American – he’s hyper-Yank, as seen through a German Pop Art-ish perspective.

    American Gangster is the one I feel leans most on the heft it hopes that the adjective provides – this isn’t just another crime movie, it hopes we believe, this is a Godfather-weight epic, surely, otherwise why would you sit through 158 minutes of this? Whereas in American Hustle, American Splendour and American Movie, there’s irony at play in the title.

    Also, as noted, a number of these titles had done the rounds – American Beauty is the name of a Grateful Dead album as well as the rose that’s on the cover of that record and in the movie. American Gothic, too, has had multiple uses.

    Best of the bunch? I think The American Friend just shades it over American Psycho, although I’m perfectly happy with the current punters’ choice of An American Werewolf In London.

  15. 15
    Ed on 30 Jan 2015 #

    @8, @9 Updike at his best is brilliant, I think. Try the Rabbit quartet, or Couples. He has a bleak world view, and often deeply unsympathetic protagonists, but his style is spectacular.

    The Husker Du of dadcore.

    Which would make American Beauty the Blink 182. A horrible film, worst of all in its grotesque and misogynistic use of Annette Bening as a caricature straight out of George and Mildred.

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