To inaugurate August 2006, the D.C. region and much of the Northeast plans to weather a heat advisory this week. Point of order: "advisory" is too docile a term. The temperature is 101. With the swampish humidity, walking outdoors feels like sinking beneath the raging, flaring surface of a supernova. It's incapacitating. So let's not play its game. Let's not beat the heat. Let's revel in it. Consider these three films and their ability to both convey and evoke rising mercury. Lug your TV set onto your back porch/yard/alley, suckle on a beer and melt into:
Body Heat. In the opening shot, William Hurt suffers the Floridian heat while watching a building burn. From the get-go, Body Heat -- Lawrence Kasdan's pulpy paean to Double Indemnity -- lays it on pretty thick. White polyester sticks to tanned bodies. Slippery brows are constantly wiped. The napes of necks glisten perpetually. Every conversation in every scene starts with chitchat about how hot it is. Even the dialogue is hardboiled. (Ned: "Maybe you shouldn't dress like that." Matty: "This is a blouse and a skirt. I don't know what you're talking about." Ned: "Maybe you shouldn't wear that body.") Those ever-present windchimes at Matty's house hardly cling-a-ling. No breeze. No respite. And no turning back, once Hurt and a ravishing Kathleen Turner commit to murder. Right down to its equatorial end -- and final word -- watching Body Heat is like having one long, steamy roll in the hay.
Do the Right Thing. If Rosie Perez's hot tamale aerobics during the opening credits don't make you pass out, surely the ensuing saga of race relations will. Do the Right Thing turned Bedford-Stuyvesant into more than just a location. It was a place in time -- a living, breathing, sweating, sun-drenched sauna of good and bad neighbors in 1989 Brooklyn. I think of Do the Right Thing and my olfactory nerves kick into overdrive: pizza, belching manhole covers, body odor, suntan lotion, lipstick on sweaty lips, broiling blacktop and then, of course, smoke and fury and hate. When things get too heated, we'd do well to listen to Mister Señor Love Daddy: "Whoa. Y'all take a chill. You got to cool that shit off. And that's the double-truth, Ruth."
Rear Window. The setting: air-conditionless Manhattan. You're stuck in a wheelchair (ass sweating into cotton pants that stick to the seat) with a gunky cast covering your leg (which is sweating doubly and creating a foul cast stench). You can't even sit still because there's a murderer living across the courtyard. Instead, you wheel feverishly around your apartment, struggling against diaper rash and a sinking feeling that you're the killer's next mark. Such is life as Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, in which almost all of Hitchcock's shots and setups originate from within Stewart's apartment. This choice turns stuffiness into claustrophobia. We're stuck in the summer, in a wheelchair, in a stew of hot-blooded murder. As the wise old IMDb tells us, the 1,000 arclights used to convey summertime on the Paramount set were so hot they once set off the soundstage sprinkler system. Yee-ouch.
Now your turn. What hot pics deserve a look in the mucky month of August?
Side note: Apologies if the formatting of this post (and others) is off. I don't know how to wrangle photos and text so they look neat and flush on everyone's browsers everywhere. If anyone has any Blogspot tips, fire away.
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