For All Mankind

Of the 600+ films in The Criterion Collection, almost 200 are listed as from the United States. While not all of these films are explicitly thematically based  around life in the US, the American selections for the Collection do make up a mosaic of diverse perspectives on life in this country, proving that there is no sustainable solitary understanding of what it means to be an “American,” but there exists instead an array of possibilities for interpreting American identity. What the American films do have in common, though, is provide proof that excellent films have been made in the US for quite some time. So, after exhausting yourself with Independence Day Parades, firecracker-lighting, and Budweiser, settle down with a great American movie. Here are a dozen great titles from the Criterion Collection about “America” and “freedom” in the many senses of those terms.



Hesher (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a character that represents almost all different sides of life, and mainly, childhood. He’s reckless, narcissistic, always looking for fun, and you never know whether or not he’s your friend or your greatest enemy. Hesher is a cypher, someone that you can never truly understand or grasp. Many will love him and many will hate him. A character such as Hesher can’t be easy to write. If he becomes too extremist, he can lose any hints at humanity and could become a total cartoon. But director Spencer Susser and co-writer David Michôd (the director behind last year’s tremendous Animal Kingdom) managed to find an authentic grounding in this coming-of-age film that chronicles the extreme emotions of childhood. Hesher isn’t the star of the film, but he represents everything about childhood and what the lead, T.J., is going through. Here’s what Susser had to say about writing a jarring tone, the max levels Hesher goes to, and writing spontaneity:

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published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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