July 29, 2009

Movies For Hot Weather

Every year when the days become intolerably muggy and miserable I get irrational movie cravings. You'd think I'd want to kick back with something chilly and soothing, but it's quite the opposite. My brain craves fever dreams, it wants to bog down in sweltering incoherence and spin its wheels giddily. Suffering through the longest, hottest entertainments during the summer months is its own form of escapism -- it makes it easier to meld with a movie and project yourself into it, and the stain it leaves on your psyche lingers a lot longer. Here are a few of the movies that will help push you over the edge into delirium. Turn off your AC, press a glass of something cold to your forehead, and prepare to lose your mind in luxury.

First of all there's Night of the Iguana, adapted from Tennessee Williams' play and starring Ava Gardner, Richard Burton, and the incomparable Deborah Kerr. Most of the movie takes place at an isolated Mexican beach resort where the characters all take turns healing and destroying each other. Here's the trailer:

I've posted about Robert Altman's Three Women before. Watching Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall grapple for dominance in the middle of the Californian never gets old for me. Over time (and the movie is over two hours long, so there is a lot of it) camp humor gives way to existential dread amidst the most blinding '70s decor you've ever seen. The lugubrious soundtrack will pin you down and gradually drain your will to live -- but you cannot look away. Here are the first ten minutes:

This is a real firecracker. You don't have to have seen David Lynch's Twin Peaks TV series to appreciate his cinematic prequel Fire Walk With Me as one of his strangest and most emotionally charged films -- the movie shouldn't work, but for some reason it just does. Lynch gives you all the necessary info on a need-to-know basis as you tour the crime-scenes, roadhouses, and psychotic episodes of small-town America. If Sheryl Lee's sultry/horrified performance doesn't flip some sort of hidden switch in your amygdala, then you might not be human. Here's the trailer:

Here's another Altman treat. This one goes down smoother than 3 Women, but it has about 25 more characters to keep track of and over a dozen musical numbers, so this is long-haul entertainment at its finest. I couldn't find a clip that does Nashville justice, so here's a montage set to one of the movie's songs. Give it a chance and it will become one of those movies you quote at least once a week.

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