Friday, March 11, 2016

Warm Weather Movies

I hate summer; let me just say that right from the start.  Summer as a kid was fantastic.  It meant no school and freedom and all that amazing stuff.  Summer as an adult just means my skirts are going to stick to me in unflattering ways and everyone in the office complains when I take vacation and emails me anyway.

Warm-weather movies, however, are my jam.  Even if they're sweaty, they're amazing looking.  Even if it's supposed to be a hundred million degrees, everyone's hair is perfectly windblown.  The heat is never too much, nobody ever seems to have to work when it's 95 degrees out, and everyone lunches outdoors.  The only possible exception to this theory was the movie "Jaws."  Everyone in that movie looks like six kinds of hammered shit, which, as I understand from the AMC "Behind the Movies" special, they were.

CAVEAT:  There are some spoilers here, so if you're the sort who will whine about that in the comments, just stop, man.  Nobody wants your kind here.

10.  A Time To Kill (1996).

Okay, this is kind of a brutal movie.  BUT, in its defense, it's also intensely interesting; and the season and location are as much of a character as anyone human in the cast.  An old-school Matthew McConaghey doesn't hurt much, either.

See?  GLOWING PERFECTLY.  Her hair isn't even falling.  What the FUCK?

9.  Dazed and Confused (1993)

This movie came out just after I graduated from high school.   And all I have to say is, in June in Northern Virginia, it was about 90 degrees with 90% humidity.  This movie is supposed to be in TEXAS, and these kids are all roaming around aimlessly and sweatlessly in jeans and long-sleeved shirts.
Texas kids in the 70s were born without sweat glands.
That said, it's the perfect early-summer movie.  We are all poor dumb Mitch, who stumbles into an entire universe of possibility.  Even if he DOES end up hooking up with the girl who literally looks like she's thirty years old, we all have that one night we remember from teenaged summers that sticks with us.

8.  Jaws 2 (1978)

Three years after the dark, better original, Jaws 2 came out.  It lacks the depth of the original, but includes all the fun of a really good slasher flick -- on catamarans and dingys.  (Seriously, it's evidence of how crazy shit was that the idea of allowing a teenager to just ... randomly sail off with his epically stunted friends into the Atlantic was a totes-okay thing back then).

So -- yeah.  The 1978 answer to Greg Brady, Chief Brody's son Mike, goes out with his goofball friends to randomly sail around for a while.  Through shark-infested waters.  And takes his little brother.  It's worth noting here that when I first saw this movie at age ten, in 1986, I had a crush on the character of Doug.  I still kind of do.
He seems DEEP!  He READS!  Shut up.
Naturally the great white shark zeroes in on this group of kids, because he knows a service to humanity when he sees it.  And even though they're being threatened by a massive shark with a serious grudge, everyone STILL LOOKS PRETTY FUCKING GOOD.  I'd have wet my pants and started tearing out my hair by this point, which may be why my husband has never taken me sailing.
Don't let death get in the way of good hair product, y'all.
7.  Now and Then (1995)

This movie sort of encapsulates pre-teen summer stuff for me.  Riding your bikes to get popsicles, swimming wherever the hell you felt like it, and, most particularly, that ONE SCENE where Gaby Hoffman goes home after fighting, and drops her bike in the yard and strides into the house like a badass.  We ALL had that kind of day once in a while, where you wander into the house for dinner like you fucking own it, reeking of dirt and that peculiar metal smell from chain-link fences and playground swings.

To say nothing of those pre-teen girl relationships that were so intense and all-consuming, it was like you were all nearly the same person.  It was only when you hit high school that you started to see the differences -- and hence, some of the cracks.

Also, once again -- hot enough to swim naked in a stream, not hot enough to sweat.

6.  Live From Baghdad (2002)

You probably haven't seen this one; it's kind of obscure.  But it's absolutely worth a watch, because it's about the growth of the 24-hour news cycle, and it's kind of captivating.  Still -- Baghdad in August?  I give you perfectly imperfect hair.

5.  Stealing Beauty (1996)

Italy, presumably during the summer; perfect hair for everyone.  That said, this movie gets it right in ways I'd never seen until then.  This, I think, is considered one of Bernardo Bertolucci's lightweight films; but it is so beautiful.  You can nearly feel the dust from the roads and the sun on your arms -- but, naturally, no sweating.

4.  Shag (1989)

YOU GUYS.  If you haven't seen this movie, you must.  Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, and a seriously hot Robert Rusler.  Just graduated from high school, four Southern girls run away to Myrtle Beach in 1963, before one of them is set to get married, as a last hurrah.  I envied Phoebe Cates's effortless tan here as a kid; and true to life at the beach, most of it takes place with the various cast members in bathing suits.  But -- perfect bubble flip, man.

"You ever see The Hustler?"
That first time alone at the beach without your parents is ... pretty much like this.  Totally disorienting, and sometimes life-changing.  And generally full of questionable alcoholic concoctions of one type or another.

3.  Before Sunrise (1995)

This one hits home for me, because nearly all of my trips to the European continent have been in the summertime.  And there is nothing like the smell of a large European city in the summer.  Like bus fumes and cigarette smoke and oranges, baked bread and heated pavement.  There's a sort of recklessness inspired by a city about which you know nothing, in which you do not know the language.  There's a freedom from fear that should, in and of itself, be frightening; but isn't.  And very much like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you wander, aimlessly, fearlessly, sure that even if you don't quite know your place in the world, you can sure as fuck articulate it.  

"Night in the park?  No problem.  Dew is Nature's hair serum."
I also found this movie so believable, mainly because when you're in a new place by yourself, anyone speaking your language becomes, immediately and without question, someone who speaks your language.  The sweet, flooding relief of finding someone who can understand you, literally, very often leads to those kinds of conversations in which you try to make them understand you, figuratively.  I've had a night sort of like this, on Bastille Day in Paris one summer, and the near-desperation for connection lends everything a kind of hallucinatory air.  The next morning you really can't believe you did or said those things, or that they were accepted or encouraged with such ease and aplomb. 

And because of that otherwordliness, I fucking hated the sequels.  These people should never have met again; because meeting again sucks all the magic right out of nights like this.  How do you ruin a perfect, magical night when you're 22?  Re-set it twenty years later when you're 40, when you remember all the perfectly cringeworthy things you said that seemed totally deep at the time.

2.  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

NOBODY makes summer in Mississippi look as good as Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.  This movie is all drama, all the time; but all those slamming screen doors and glasses clinking with ice make this one of my favorite summer movies of all time.  Some movies are more about atmosphere than plot, and this is one of them for me.  I honestly (and maybe flamefully) could not give less of a damn about Brick and Maggie the Cat; I just want to look at them as they move through that room, spitting at one another.

1.  Romancing the Stone (1984)

Jungles.  Sailboats.  Crashed airplanes full of marijuana.  Danny DeVito.  A giant emerald.  And a romance novelist hermit who ends up in the middle of a kidnapping.  This movie kind of has everything, including Kathleen Turner's perfect 80s perm.

What I love the most about this movie is the transformation of Joan Wilder.  She starts out looking like this:

And ends up, after several days kicking around a jungle being chased by bad guys, looking like this:

I mean... must be nice.


I'm sure I'm leaving a lot off this list -- Wet Hot American Summer, obvs; Meatballs, Friday the Thirteenth, all the camp stuff.  You don't like it?  Go make your own list.