I have a few film go-tos for summer when the weather is hot and humid and getting anything done outside is limited to a few hours. A cold beer and a lazy hot day makes for good couch watching and below I’ve listed some of my favorite films to watch when the mood strikes.
I occasionally post about film on here, see my post on David Lynch cars from a few weeks back. Blue Velvet could’ve made the list, I thought about it even though the film doesn’t have an entirely heavy summer vibe.
This is a easy pick, all jokes aside about the pandemic and mayor not wanting to close the beaches. Roy Scheider is a solid actor and I like the amount of depth he brings to the role. Spielberg was going for this kind of realism horror. A shark is pretty terrifying, a gigantic one is even more scary. He employed the Val Lewton less is more approach to the monster. When the shark finally does get a lot screen time though, the bond the three men have formed reveals the time worth spent developing it in slower scenes. That sort of pace is almost a lost art these days but Jaws also isn’t a terribly long film. It’s a great study on character development and editing.
One Crazy Summer
Better Off Dead is the best Savage Steve Holland film, but when I was a kid, this film absolutely was my speed of humor. Filling the rich people’s pool with lobsters feels incredibly relevant in 2020. Did I mention it has John Cusack AND Demi Moore AND Bobcat Goldthwait?
When Goldthwait puts on the Godzilla costume and gets stuck in it only to end up trampling a model of a new real estate development at a dinner party, it’s pure middle school hysteria.
Like Better Off Dead, there’s a big race between the rich and the underdogs that fuels the third act but the film is full of freaks and weirdos and random humor.
In The Heat Of The Night
You feel the heat in every frame of this racially charged who done it film from 1967. Sidney Poitier delivered flawless performances and isn’t stopping here and Rod Steiger and Warren Oates also make for a powerhouse supporting cast. Also Sidney slaps the shit out of a racist and it’s still every bit as awesome now as it was then.
You can’t really take your eye of Poitier, every scene is razor sharp like his detective skills, he’s phenomenal and a forever favorite actor of mine. Steiger brings a level of depth to his character that reveals itself more on each viewing. The scene at his house where Steiger lets a few walls down to relate his loneliness of his job only to quickly put them back with a quick racist shot at Poitier has a lot of uncomfortable layers that only a veteran actor like Steiger could navigate.
There was one summer when this was on HBO all the time and it was a super hot gross DC summer and me and my friend Matt would watch this one over and over and over. I don’t know why, probably summer boredom and heat but we also loved the plot and characters.
The way Thierry Arbogast captures NYC in the early 90’s is a time capsule we should all cherish. There’s a sort of thing about a French cinematographer capturing the Big Apple through their lens as an outsider of the city that seems to exemplify all of the little things that make NYC beautiful even when it’s 90 degrees out and the pavement is baking.
There is so much going on in this short clip below, note the ultra wide camera lens usage when needed and the tighter shots in the apartment. The tone of Oldman going from whimsical to sinister and the usage of light and sound. Seriously one of the best films of the 90’s.
Let’s set the record straight here. Both Predator films are amazing in their own unique way. The casting and pace of the first is perfect, but Danny Glover in a not-too-distant hot LA summer fighting gangs and an alien is hard to mess up. The supporting cast of Bill Paxton, María Concepción Alonso, and Gary Busey adds a similar vibe to the original film just in a concrete neo-noir setting.
Where Arnold gave us classic lines like “Stick Around” or Bill Duke’s “Anytime,” Glover has this inner dialog that is hilarious and relatable. Predator 2 doesn’t waste time either, it dives in and doesn’t stop, making it a fun summer watch with a few cold beers.
Stand By Me
Did you ever take a trip or go on an adventure with friends when you were a kid and came back to find out you, them, or everyone had changed a bit from it? Stand By me is a film that entirely explores this premise in what we now dub a “Coming of Age” film. It’s statement on friendships, social circumstances, and our mortality (and how we spend the time we have).
Summer itself represents a time to reflect on the things we did when we were kids as we seek our own form of current relaxation (in a pandemic it feels even more important). Stand By Me doesn’t just remind us to slow down and think about how we got here as we get older, it also gently reminds us to touch base with the friends in our lives while we’ve still got them.