As the school year draws to a close, here are five iconic summer movies to watch!
Steven Spielberg’s first big hit was the original “summer blockbuster.” Coming from a decade renowned for the New Hollywood movement, which saw many sophisticated or niche films made by young filmmakers, “Jaws” provided unflinching enjoyment for all moviegoers. Released in the wake of the Watergate scandal and amid tough economic times, “Jaws” was a welcome distraction for Americans who had been inundated with nothing but negativity. Yet “Jaws” wasn’t just mindless entertainment. All the elements of Spielberg’s hit combine to create a unique and captivating film. John Williams’ score really shows the terror that nature can inflict on civilization, and the top notch storyline shocks and amuses, even with some social commentary underneath. What makes this film a must-watch, however, is the way Spielberg directs it. The summery setting of a bright and cheerful beach town juxtaposed with horrific shark attacks is…well, like a shark attack. It’s hard to watch at times, but we can’t look away as Spielberg keeps us on the edge of our seats wanting more. If you’re going on a beach vacation this summer or staying here on Isla Vista, “Jaws” is a perfect watch. But hopefully watching it won’t make you hesitate to get out in the water…
“Do What It Takes” (1989)
Spike Lee is known for his provocative cinema that defies social sensibilities while possessing an artistic look well made for the silver screen – and that reputation started with “Do The Right Thing.” This film, released in the late 1980s, revitalized a return to more serious cinema that many critics felt was lacking in the commercial age of cinema. Set in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Lee’s film tackles themes of racism, gentrification and morality, all during a heat wave that raises temperatures inside the characters as well as on the thermometers away – culminating in a shocking finale. The bright color palette – as well as the musical soundtrack – only adds to the film’s heated summer aesthetic and proves Lee’s massive ability as a filmmaker.
“American Graffiti” (1973)
Have you ever wanted to see a movie that evokes those melancholy feelings everyone gets on the last day of summer vacation? “American Graffiti”, directed by George Lucas four years before its release “Star Wars,” tells the story of several high school students with different ambitions, plans, and anxieties for the future. The night before two of the friends are supposed to leave for college, they and their group of friends each set off on individual adventures that mark them forever. The story is a period piece, set in the early 60s, and it’s full of nostalgia for youth and a seemingly idyllic time in history. The film also launched some major movie careers, including Harrison Ford, Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss (who, coincidentally, would star in “Jaws” two years later). What makes this film an essential summer viewing is that it captures a special vibe about those last days of summer, how crucial it is to seize the day before seemingly returning to the reality of the school – and in the case of this film, into adulthood itself. Plus, the conversational dialogue between the characters, with the captivating soundtrack to back it up, reminds us of the conversations we have with friends on a lazy summer day, making “American Graffiti” a timeless classic of the season.
“The Seven Year Itch” (1955)
“The Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy Wilder, is the perfect film to capture the unique feeling of ‘summer in the city’. While most summer movies are set at the beach or resort, “The Seven Year Itch” is set in the sweltering heat of Manhattan during the scorching days of summer. The romantic comedy film tells the story of an ill-married middle-aged executive who can’t help but develop a crush on his new upstairs neighbor, played by Marilyn Monroe. The best thing about this movie is its charming aesthetic that captures the oddly empty feeling during summertime that one gets in an otherwise hectic city, in addition to the comedic daydreams the protagonist has as if they were the result of heat exhaustion. The film is even more famous for Marilyn Monroe’s white dress and can seem outdated in much of its humor. Nonetheless, it’s still an entertaining viewing for someone who appreciates the classic Golden Age of Hollywood.
“Friday 13″ (1980)
After the release of this campy horror classic, numerous films with much the same plot, set in much the same setting, came out – but ‘Friday The 13th’ was the first to perfect the ‘slasher’ trope. summer camp”. Capitalizing on the terror success of Michael Myers in “Halloween,” the 1980 film tells the story of a naïve group of teenage counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, one by one getting caught by an unseen killer. The horror movie spawned a million more sequels and copies and introduced Jason Voorhees to movie audiences as well as a new sub-genre of horror movies called “slashers” that were also maligned for have been commercially successful. As terrifying as it is to be a counselor at Camp Crystal Lake, the bucolic nature scenes make the film worth watching if you’re a fan of the outdoors. And despite the ostensibly creepy premise, the movie is a pretty enjoyable movie for its campy action and cheesy ’80s appeal – and it’s scary during the funniest season of the year.