Summer traditionally beckons thoughts of beaches and iced cream, of swimming in outdoor pools and sunning next to outdoor pools because there are children in there and you’d rather not swim in urine. You know, the pleasant stuff.
This summer, however, we’ve had fairly limited sun, and many days of rain and murky weather have nullified the above activities. But don’t worry, kids, there’s another traditional summer activity that is as much fun in and out of the rain: the summer blockbuster. For your education and entertainment, we present:
The Four Kinds of Summer Movies
(and some examples, and why you should see them)
The Fun Movie
Remember in your childhood when going to the movies was pure, uncomplicated fun? Pepperidge Farm remembers, and so do we. Since then your expectations have probably changed; you probably now want your movies to be clever and original, and possibly also insightful and with some message about social change. These are good things, yes, but sometimes there’s nothing better than suspending your grown-up expectations and watching a movie just for the enjoyment of it. Take, for instance, Man of Steel, probably the most anticipated blockbuster of the summer. It’s a retelling of the Superman story, beginning with the eponymous hero’s birth on the planet Krypton, his upbringing in heartland America, his dalliances with reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams!), and his fight to save the world from genocidal aliens. I was treated to an advance screening of Man of Steel, and I can tell you that it’s the epitome of a fun flick. Plus, there’s an even amount of explosive violence and shirtless Henry Cavill, making Man of Steel a perfect date movie for couples divided.
Also worth considering: World War Z, This is the End, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Heat.
The Interesting Film
As a student, you probably know the importance of connotation, and why someone might call one thing a “movie” and another a “film.” A film is a little more deliberate than a movie; rather than strive towards a goal like fun or romance, it asks complex questions and sometimes, if you’re lucky, answers them. Interesting films might not thrill the way fun movies do, but they stay with you a little longer. Mud, for instance, has proven immensely resonant in the days since I saw it, popping up in my head whenever I experience something that reflects its story: two children in the Deep South, interacting with the vagrant who mysteriously appeared near their community. Interesting films are especially good for conversation, so they’re well-seen by groups of friends.
Other interesting films: Before Midnight, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Kings of Summer, The Painting.
The ‘Oh, You Haven’t Seen It?!’
These kinds of films take interesting and turn it on its head. They’re usually documentaries, foreign films, or art-house pieces, and they rarely see wide release. These films may be enjoyable, but the guaranteed appeal is being able to bring them up and conversation and follow with “oh, you haven’t seen it?!”
“I saw this fabulous documentary about homosexuality in Uganda. I really enjoyed the director’s use of personal storytelling to blur the lines of personal and political. What did you think? Oh, you haven’t seen it?!”
Of course, non-pedants see these kinds of films as well, they’re just not me. Recommendations are difficult to offer (because I, um, haven’t seen many) but if you’re looking for quality cinema you should check out independent theatres like Bloor Hot Docs, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and the not-independent-but-very-affordable Carlton Cinema.
The Television Show
Well, duh, of course it’s not exactly the same as cinema, but we are in the golden age of TV dramas – and the summer is when they really shine. Mad Men wraps up soon, but Nurse Jackie is still in full swing. And, as the internet reminds us every day, Breaking Bad is coming back for its final episodes. These shows might not mirror movies in terms of production quality and star power, but the medium offers unparalleled suspense and continuity.
Some other awesome summer TV shows: Veep, The Newsroom, and the first season of Graceland.