Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summertime Flicks

Fun is in
It's no sin
It's that time again
To shed your load
Hit the road
On the run again…
Summer skies
In our eyes
And a warmer sun
It's one for all
All for one
All for all out fun

- It's OK by The Beach Boys (15 Big Ones, 1976)

There are many reasons summertime is my favorite time of the year. The previously dreary environment of the outside world is now warm, welcoming, and sunny with joy. Our clothing choices are no longer compromised by having to wear bulky, clunky winter coats coupled with sweaters and long johns. We, and I mean me - can now wear tank tops, pedal pushers, or skirts every single day if we want to. Hell, men and women can walk around naked now and still be comfortable. And, to be more specific to my current and previous age groups, the inspiring freedom of summer vacation allows us to concentrate on what’s most important in life - - doing whatever the hell we want to for as long as we can.

For me, at least for the last ten or so years, that has always consisted of watching as many movies as possible in a 24 hour time span and hanging out with my movie pals until all hours of the morning talking about movies and eating sweet organic junk food. Amazing. However, those are merely the activities I partake in during the summertime hours. There’s a mentality that comes with the territory that is also specific to the warm, sunny days and nights of June, July, and August. By not having to concentrate on the mind numbing repetition of school work and other such things, our minds are allowed to relax and wander into new zones of thought and feeling. I don’t know if this is a decidedly female trait, but during the summertime I have a difficult time completing just about anything because I become so enraptured inside my dreamy, listless world of imagination and enchantment. I'm not actually getting anything done, but I somehow feel accomplished - almost as if my soul becomes replenished during the summertime months because I actually have time to think things through. These feelings have been captured on film more than once and, not so oddly enough, have been captured most frequently by female filmmakers. These are the films of my youth.

Here are five examples of summertime flicks and the things they all have in common:

- The film usually only revolves around two female characters.
- Large chunks of the narrative are spent inside closed areas, which allows the two characters to get to know one another inside and out.
- Either actual or insinuated lesbianism combined with budding sexuality.
- Death.
- A journey - either of the metaphorical kind or the realistic.
- Rich vs. Poor.
- Gorgeous cinematography.

Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994): Juliet (Kate Winslet) and Pauline (Melanie Lynsky) provide fantastical, emotional, and sexual outlets for one another throughout the course of a single year - a year that changes everything forever.

The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999): Though it’s not strictly a summertime tale, Ms. Coppola and Jeffrey Eugenides (the author of the book it was based upon) make the Lisbon sisters’ story of death, depression, and desire feel romantically ethereal and honest while simultaneously honoring the summertime mentality.

Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat, 2002): While on a holiday by the sea, two physically opposing sisters discover sexuality only to endure disastrous consequences.

Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002): After the suicide of her longtime companion, Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) takes off on a journey to the Mediterranean sea with her best friend, Lanna (Kathleen McDermott) in an effort to get over the emotional damage and find a new life path.

My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004): The manipulated (“Mona,” Nathalie Press) and the manipulator (“Tamsin,” Emily Blunt) take charge in this darkly metaphoric film about the battle between good and evil.

And, I must give a shout out to Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2006) because it possesses all of the feelings I just discussed except inside the story of a little girl named Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) instead of a teenager.

And another shout out to The River (Jean Renoir, 1951) because it involves some summertime sass, but not quite enough to make the cut.

However, these are all great movies and I highly recommend a fourteen hour marathon of all of 'em! Or, at least do what I've been doing all summer long and watch one a week.


Alexa said...

Such great recommendations for my netflix queue! Thanks Sara!

Alexa said...

Just added Morvern Callar, Fat Girl, and My Summer of Love.

Alexa said...

Sara, I have (finally) finished all three and thank you, thank you! My Summer of Love was luscious; Morvern Callar was hypnotic; Fat Girl SO devastating. All were totally absorbing and have stayed with me (the sign of any good film).

B said...

I saw Fat Girl as an undergrad (somehow our student-run cinema got it) and I have to admit that I've never gotten over how brutal and uncomfortable I found it to be. It's one of those random movies my brain can't seem to shake, yet I've never met another person who's even heard of it, let alone seen it! I guess it is a summer movie though...if a terrifying summer.

I've also had Morvern Callar on my list for years and still have never seen it. I even bought the book once, hoping it would inspire me, and I'm pretty sure I've since resold it in a downsizing frenzy. I'll definitely have to move it back up the movies-to-see list.