Maybe it is the way it captures the suspended reality of summer, or how it evokes a special childhood memory, or the way it makes you succumb to chance and to the languid summer magic, or its ability to transport you to another time and world that have nothing to do with a summer escape. It can be more about a mindset than about a place, it can bottle a sense of endless possibility and far-flung adventures as well as hidden depths. A summer movie can have a different meaning for each one of us, but one thing I can say for sure. The films you will find below do not fall in the category of fleeting summer entertainment. They are the kind of films that linger with you long after you’ve watched them and which may even accompany you throughout the years. Eight of my favourite creatives from around the world talk about their favourite summer movie.
Roma (2018), directed by Alfonso Cuarón
“Roma”, 2018 | Esperanto Filmoj, Participant Media, Netflix
My choice is Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. It’s both a tragic and beautiful story about the many faces of love. Set in Mexico City in the 70’s, this black and white film brings you into another time and life. Very touching, and also inspiring architecture and style, with a surprisingly clean touch.
Before Sunrise (1995), directed by Richard Linklater
“Before Sunrise”, 1995 | Castle Rock Entertainment
I rarely cry in life, but films often release the waterworks. I also seem to be more of a romantic in the dark confines of a cinema. It’s the screen, the all enveloping story and my willingness to submit.
Before Sunrise is simple in concept – two young Euro-travellers meet, talk, walk, fall in love and then reluctantly resume their separate onward journeys – but profound in execution, due to the detailed focus on dialogue and heightened emotional build-up that seems so familiar to anyone that has ever experienced a summer romance. All the stages of a blossoming love are witnessed in real time as Jessie (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) glide through the city of Vienna, exploring each other’s identities, exchanging personal philosophies and establishing a foundation for what will become a lasting relationship.
As a standalone film, the ending is left perfectly poised with hope that these two soulmates will indeed meet in 6 months time at the same Viennese train platform as is their plan, but as part of a trilogy (so far?), we know that the journey will be more authentically true to life’s uncertain path – all of which makes this first instalment so bittersweet.
A River Runs Through It (1992), directed by Robert Redford
Francisca Mattéoli, author and travel writer
“A River Runs Through It”, 1992 | Allied Filmmakers, Wildwood Enterprises
I’ll say A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford. Norman McLean wrote the book when he was 74 – quite an achievement. Most of the fly fishing scenes were filmed on the wonderful Gallatin River in Southern Montana, in June and July. The scenery is gorgeous, the story extremely touching. It made me want to visit Montana and write about it in my book, “Adventure Hotel Stories”.
Stealing Beauty (1996), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
“Stealing Beauty”, 1996 | Fiction, France 2 Cinéma
The first movie that came to mind when I thought of favourite summer movies was Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty. For me, this movie embodies all the wonderful things about summer. True, there is no beach, but there is the beautiful scenery that is Tuscany, the colours captured in Daruis Khondji’s stunning cinematography. Afternoon siestas, lazing by the pool, the music of Mozart floating over the sound of cicadas, summer nights, art, food, great conversation, an amazing ensemble cast, a hypnotic soundtrack. Perfection.
Le temps des gitans (1988), directed by Emir Kusturica
Delphine Jouandeau, photographer
“Les temps de gitans”, 1988 | Forum Sarajevo, Ljubavny Film, Lowndes Productions Limited
Le temps des gitans from Emir Kusturica is my favorite summer movie. It transports you through its visual and sound power. Everything is there, the sad, the burlesque poetry, the abjection. This film exults a particular energy, magic… It’s a summer movie from the light it transmits.
Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953), directed by Jacques Tati
Tony Stella, illustrator
“Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot”, 1953 | Discina Film, Cady Films, Specta Films
From the opening notes of Alain Romans’ score, I am immediately transported to a blissful childhood nostalgia. Summer, Sun, Sea and Tati’s timeless observation of the human character. In 1953, it was Tati’s second film and the first introduction of “Monsieur Hulot” – also my first Tati film. It is forever linked to the time it was shown to me by my Parents – laughing together recognising others and ourselves on summer vacation – rushing to the wrong platform mislead by the unintelligible station information. The world of Monsieur Hulot was still visible in my childhood; I am afraid it is now gone forever, but, because of his genius, I’ve become a Monsieur Hulot myself refusing to let go – always trying to put the fallen brick back on the crumbled wall… I am forever indebted to Jacques Tati and Pierre Étaix whose posters and illustrations shaped my work even beyond the film.
The Before trilogy, directed by Richard Linklater
Nadya Zim, photographer
“Before Midnight”, 2013 | Faliro House Productions, Venture Forth, Castle Rock Entertainment
My summer movie or actually movies are Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight (2013). All three movies are one big amazing story of love and relationship through time and outside of technology. Something that nobody has a luxury to experience in modern day. The movie was also shot through time with the same actors, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Richard Linklater is a genius director because he knows what real is. The story is about love, real love, complicated love. Plus, the location is romantic Europe. What else do we need during summertime?
The Knick, Seasons 1 and 2, directed by Steven Soderbergh
Mary Jo Matsumoto, painter and sculptor
“The Knick”, 2014 | Anonymous Content
I don’t have a go-to summer movie, but I can’t recommend Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick (Season 1 and Season 2) enough! It’s better than any film I’ve seen in years and somehow I missed it when it came out in 2014-2015. The story tackles the violent, backward corrupt world of racial segregation, bigotry, elitism, poverty and sexual mores of 1900. The religious and racial issues are sadly still very relevant and modern. Soderbergh shot and directed season 1 – 20 hours of lavish costume drama – in less time than it would take to shoot one big movie. And Season 2 is even better!
It’s a bow to Orson Welles with up-close (he’s wheeled on a small platform so he can move in and out among his actors) hand-held takes that go on forever and capture expressions in a way that’s haunting. Soderbergh had his sets pre-lit so the actors didn’t have to wait around and could power through whole scenes at full boil. Plus, film nerds like myself can appreciate the low-light capacity of the digital camera he used to pay homage to candlelight scenes in the vein of Barry Lyndon. All that aside, it’s the character development that hooked me. I’ve loved Clive Owen since Croupier, and his cocaine-shooting brilliant Dr. Thackery anti-hero is as good as it gets. Eve Hewson as nurse Lucy Elkins had a character arc that blew me away. Andre Holland as the African-American surgeon, Dr. Algernon Edwards, brought me to tears almost every episode. Even the smaller characters are great – a nun who performs abortions, a beautiful woman who lost part of her face to Syphilis, a doctor whose theories foreshadow Nazi propaganda. It will definitely take you to another world, so it’s my vote for good summer late-night entertainment.