I don’t know how things are where you live, but I am sick and tired of this goddamn winter. I have already shoveled approximately 8.6 metric tons of snow and another major storm is due to hit this weekend. I’ve had it. I’m done. I don’t want to think about snow anymore. I want to think happy thoughts about warm weather. Today’s Roundtable will focus on our favorite movies about fun in the sun during the summer season.
We’re joined this week by a new guest contributor, Chris Chiarella from Sound & Vision magazine.
One of my favorite movies set in the tropics is the highly-underrated ‘The Mighty Quinn‘ from 1989. The movie stars a young Denzel Washington as the police chief of an unnamed small tropical island (the film was shot in Port Antonio, Jamaica) who has to track down his best friend (played by Robert Townsend) who is a suspect in a murder. Although the movie’s marketing (including its trailer) made it look like a comedy, the film is actually a pretty intense drama and one of my favorite roles from Denzel’s storied career. The tropical locale is essentially a character in and of itself. It adds a sense of both beauty and unfamiliarity to the proceedings. Sadly, the movie has not been made available on Blu-ray, nor do I see it currently listed on Netflix. However, it is available on DVD should any of you want to add a great film to your collection.
While everyone knows ‘Better Off Dead’, many people don’t know its unofficial sister film ‘One Crazy Summer‘. As a product of the 1980s, these two movies were beloved and much-watched titles in the Hickman household. Featuring a lot of the same cast members, a similar style of humor and wild daydream sequences, they’re a fantastic duo. In ‘One Crazy Summer’, John Cusack plays Hoops, a recent high school grad who’s sent to Nantucket for the summer. He and his little sister are to live with their aunt and uncle. Having done this every summer, Hoops has many friends there who are always excited for his return. During this particularly crazy summer, he gets mixed up with an arrogant wealthy local, falls for a girl with a bad rap (Demi Moore) and has to overcome his fears and weaknesses. It’s hilarious, fun and unforgettable. The only downside is that it’s still not available in HD.
Setting aside exotic forays like ‘Blood Diamond’, I have to go right to one great big extravaganza of surf, sun and ex-Presidents: ‘Point Break‘. Almost everything in the movie, from the cast (Anthony Kiedis!) to the dialogue (“You let ’em go!”) to the endless freefall sequences make up a treasure trove of fun action flick panache, but there’s more to it. Kathryn Bigelow & company captured something that almost transcends the action film trappings, and I think the key element is the summertime surf. For those enduring dire weather, watch ‘Point Break’ and dream of sleeping on the temperate beach.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I have no idea how I wound up with ‘One Crazy Summer‘ on VHS when I was in elementary school, but the movie dug its hooks into me and still hasn’t let go. I mean, the movie opens with a browbeaten cartoon rhino whipping out a machine gun and mowing down a gaggle of bullying bunny rabbits. Sold! ‘One Crazy Summer’ delivers everything I never knew I needed in a comedy: Demi Moore as a folk singer type, a Ferrari being chopped down the middle, massive explosions, the most deservedly nightmarish looking bastards this side of that episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ with the masks, and – why not? – Godzilla.
Forget holding a boombox over his head; this is the movie that springs to mind whenever I think of John Cusack. It’s my favorite slobs-versus-snobs comedy from the ’80s, and with a big chunk of the movie being set on Nantucket’s legendary beaches, it’s just the thing to defrost the housebound winter blahs.
Chris Chiarella (Sound & Vision)
‘The Blue Lagoon‘ always struck me as a nice place to swim/prance around naked/knock up Brooke Shields. Balmy breezes most of the year, plenty of free fruit and nary a flake of snow. Noisy neighbors, true, but they mostly keep to themselves.
Whenever we reach this deathly cold period of winter, there’s one summer movie I’ll often find myself watching as a reminder of the concept of heat: Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing‘. Aside from being a masterpiece and still the most compelling and complicated film ever made about racial tension, ‘Do the Right Thing’ is a minor miracle of summer heat design. Hoping to evoke the sense of an uncomfortably sweltering summer day, Lee and his cinematographer Ernest Dickerson decided to experiment with color-coding. Almost every single piece of set design and costume is brightly colored in primary hues, and Dickerson lit it all for maximum color saturation. As a result, the screen glows with such powerful oranges, yellows and reds that I swear I feel heat radiating off of the screen whenever I watch the movie.
Though immediately jarring to the eyes (in a good way), there is also a subtlety to these techniques that sneaks up on you and makes a psychological impact. It’s a very flashy and clever summer shooting style that I don’t think has ever been topped. This is only one of many things to love about Spike Lee’s masterpiece, yet it’s often overlooked. It’s an amazing achievement, and I encourage anyone living in hermit mode right to pop the Blu-ray in your player immediately. It might not warm you up, but it will remind you that there’s such a temperature as “too hot.” Maybe that’ll help ease the pain.
When I think of the warm comfort of the tropical sun, the movies that come to mind for me are the early James Bond films, especially ‘Dr. No‘ and ‘Thunderball‘. Watching ‘Dr. No’ now, in particular, practically feels like a travelogue to the Jamaican filming locations, and like stepping back into a past from before I was even born. I could use a distraction like that about now. Perhaps I’ll crank up the heat in my home theater this weekend and fire that movie up, in between bouts of shoveling more snow.
What are your favorite movies about the temperate season? Tell us in the Comments.
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