Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The blog days of summer

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.


Rusty said...

I was watching an episode of Futurama recently where the robots were rebelling. All the robot trash cans were jumping into Sal's Pizzeria.

God, that movie is awesome. I wish it didn't cost $40.

Jeanette said...

OH FUNNY! Alanna and I decided last night to call today "Do the Right Thing" Day. Looks like we're all on the same page. Page 67.

J.J. said...

Criterion DVDs are always expensive, but at least you get some good supplemental features with Do the Right Thing.

Also, Dog Day Afternoon is worth a mention. Takes place almost entirely in a tension- and smoke-filled bank as the sun goes down in Brooklyn ... Watching Pacino and John Cazale sweat to death under the hot glare of the media and the fuzz ... And Lumet's opening montage of bleached cityscapes and lazy diegetic music is a perfect start. What is it with hot days and Brooklyn and tension boiling into violence?

RC said...

good thoughts on rear window.

how a hot summer...

i always think movies that take place in a desert...Three Kings, Syrianna, Jarhead, etc. always seem to make me hot...

i remember walking into the theater to see Syriana and the theater was so hot, b/c i think everyone's body heat was elevated by susch a hot movie.

also...always fun for the heat...Baseball Movies...like the Sandlot, Field of Dreams, or for Love of the Game.

--rC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Wild Things. Hot bodies. Hot climate. Hot story. Feel like taking a cold shower just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

Training Day. rising tempers, and LA in the summer.

Anonymous said...

FLASHDANCE. she pours the water on her during the final dance, and it makes me feel cool and refreshed. (FLASHDANCE was filmed in pittsburgh by the way)

Anonymous said...

continuing on the desert theme: "The English Patient" is very dry, as is "Lawrence of Arabia." apply moisturizer afterward. [ps: the word verification on this comment starts with the letters "dry"...)

Middento said...

Ooooh, I like your choices here. The movie doesn't revel in hotness but, among other good summer-oriented flicks, I would add A Walk on the Moon and naturally Summer of '42.

-K- said...

"Theh Seven Year Itch" Summertime heat is the basic premise to this movie.

Plus, there are these added features which make it nearly great:

- Billy Wilder directs
- Marilyn Monroe stars
- a now long gone Manahttan. To me, this is one of the most interesting features to the movie. It shows a NYC which middle class people could afford to live in and only the very fortunate had air-conditioning. Overall, it presents a sensibility and a way of life that is gone and, hey, it was just half a century ago.

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