Unabashed lens flare, grainy road trips and ceaseless indie-folk tunes. Trying to emulate the exciting, languid nature of summer on the silver screen can be tricky. It’s a matter of inspiring us to make the most of wonderful weather while we are on the couch avoiding it. These films embrace summer lovin’, or anything hot and sunny.
500 Days of Summer (2009)
The ultimate 2000s indie, twee, office-romance movie where Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets Summer (Zooey Deschenel). For 500 days, portrayed through a fragmented narrative, Tom is thrown helplessly around a relationship that is endearingly one-sided, gut-wrenchingly awkward and painfully bleak. But the flash mob scene to Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams Come True makes everything okay.
Before Midnight (2013)
The third part in Richard Linklater’s masterpiece Before trilogy takes place in Greece. Your level of familiarity with the previous films is irrelevant; this form of cinema is completely unique and totally immersive. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Deply) wander through a beautiful Mediterranean coastal village in meticulous 12-minute shots. They candidly discuss relationships and philosophy in a way that’s neither pretentious nor unbelievable. Linklater has an unrivalled ability to make you feel present, like you’re incredibly important in driving dialogue along.
From Here to Eternity (1953)
An iconic image: two lovers, locked in a passionate, sandy embrace as the waves cascade over their monochrome bodies. From Here to Eternity may exhibit elements of melodrama and ludicrous key lighting (the type you’d expect from the era), but don’t let the cheesy title fool you. The film follows three soldiers stationed in Hawaii before the attack on Pearl Harbour, played by Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra. It won eight Academy Awards the year of its release. Watch it to understand why.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)
Few films can portray comic timing through subtitles, but this is one of them. Jean Dujardin plays Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, aka agent OSS 117. This spy spoof is set in the blaring Egyptian heat, where Hubert is disguised as the head of a chicken farm in Cairo. With Nazi fortresses, femme fatales and catastrophic car chases, this is sensational satire. Director Michel Hazanavicius would go on to use Dujardin again in silent-smash The Artist.
Some Like it Hot (1959) Billy Wilder was the funniest man alive. If you need proof: he wrote, produced and directed Some Like It Hot. It depicts the cross-dressing antics of jazz musicians Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, respectively) as they flee to Florida, escaping mobster Spats Colombo (George Raft). Marilyn Monroe provides the love interest which only confuses matters more. It’s an undeniable classic.
The Beach (2000)
Trekking through Thailand this summer? The Beach will tease you with the oases to come. A boyish Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Richard, an American backpacker who sets off for a secret island sheltered from throngs of tourists. Fans of the original novel by Alex Garland may contest the revised ending, but no one can complain about the tropical waters of Koh Phi Phi, or the performances by Tilda Swinton and Virgine Ledoyen.
The Endless Summer (1966)
“On any day of the year it is summer somewhere in the world … ” The Endless Summer is the quintessential ‘60s surf film. This documentary will make you want to throw off the shackles of the working week and pick up a longboard. Filmmaker and narrator Bruce Brown tracks the global surfing trip of Mike Hynson and Robert August as they carve their way across the world. It is never particularly didactic or informative, but asks: what if you could chase summer forever?
The Way Way Back (2013)
Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s directorial debut is an indie masterclass in the broken family unit. Duncan (Liam James) reluctantly spends his summer vacation at the beach house owned by his mum’s (Toni Collette) new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell). Trent is detestable and pushes the shy, insular Duncan away from the family. Duncan takes a job at the local water park where his confidence (and love life) blossoms. It’s a heart-warming (albeit dysfunctional) tale made intriguing by Carell playing against type.
And to last you right through to Autumn …
Dazed and Confused (1993)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
National Lampoons Vacation (1983)
The Boat that Rocked (2009)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Point Break (1991)