As summer continues to linger on, our TFR contributors share what their 'Summer Sizzlers' are. These films provide viewers with the vibes of summer, whether they traditionally branded as summer flicks or not. So sit back on your deckchair, sip on a cool drink, and enjoy.
call me by your name
- Alison Traynor
If you are looking for a film that gets you in the mood for summer, but that also has substance and emotional impact, then look no further than Call Me By Your Name. It may have only been released last year, but Luca Guadagnino’s incredible coming-of-age drama is already being hailed as a classic, and quite rightly so.
It is impossible to separate the ambience of summer from this film. Set during the Italian summer of 1983, the cinematography ensures that this time of year has never looked so divine. The film focuses on the burgeoning relationship between the teenage Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s student Oliver (Armie Hammer), who is staying with the family.
Everything about this film is achingly beautiful. The relationship between Elio and Oliver and the inevitable pain that goes with it is so touchingly portrayed that you cannot help but become entirely invested in their lives. It induces both tears and laughter in equal measure. All of this is topped off by a wonderful summery soundtrack, featuring a wealth of Sufjan Stevens numbers. What more could you possibly want in a summer flick?
- Patrick Byrne
All the hens kept by Mr and Mrs Tweedy have become slightly serene after a lifetime’s captive egg-laying, all except Ginger, their high-spirited leader who longs for a better life for them beyond the fence. After dozens of escape attempts have fallen apart, she enlists the help of Rocky; a runaway circus rooster, who claims he can teach them to fly. Thus begins one of the most poignant farces ever produced. While never losing the urgency of a prison-break movie, Chicken Run finds time for about five or six maniacal subplots, from Mister Tweedy’s increasing paranoia over his plotting chickens, to Ginger and Rocky’s slow-burn romance. Every scene has gags which work perfectly, all either devilishly clever or brazenly dumb, and keen to capture both the humour and bleakness in the chickens’ situation: “My whole life flashed before my eyes……It was really boring”.
The voice acting is superb, the Claymation is seamless, and the Wallace and Gromit sense of gadget-mania abounds in well-earned scenes of spectacular action incorporating a nail-biting array of homemade escape contraptions and the rancorous chicken pie machine.
With plans for a sequel announced this year, let’s never lose sight of this Aardman gem.
but I'm a cheerleader
- Hiram Harrington
What’s more summery than falling in love? Jamie Babbit’s debut 1999 film But I’m A Cheerleader tells us that the answer is two girls falling in love.
Natasha Lyonne stars as Megan Bloomfield, a clueless high school cheerleader whose parents suspect her of being a lesbian. Due to their conservative nature, they send her away to a conversion therapy camp to “cure” her homosexuality. Through meeting other teenagers like her, Megan comes to realise that she is gay, but learns to accept it rather than reject it.
If the initial setup seems dark, the film is anything but. But I’m A Cheerleader is a light-hearted critique of gender roles and heteronormative practices told through the lense of bubblegum teen romance. Despite the outlandish therapy Megan is subjected to, she still finds a way to fall in love (with a fantastically rebellious Clea DuVall, at that).
Featuring a cameo from RuPaul Charles himself, But I’m A Cheerleader is the classic summer coming-of-age story, featuring misfits, stolen kisses, and sneaking out. Due to the film’s atypical setting however, it makes this story so much more heartfelt and earns its status as a feel-good cult classic. This is one summer lovin’ Grease can’t top.
- Cian Mac Lochlainn
Looking back now, it is hard to believe how many faces we instantly recognise in brothers, Paul and Chris Weitz’s classic high-school comedy American Pie. Along with established stars such as Eugene Levy and Alyson Hannigan, the film introduced Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Coolidge, and John Cho to the world. The film, centres around high school seniors, Jim Levenstein (Biggs), Steve Stiffler (Scott), Chris “Oz” Ostreicher (Chris Klein), Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholson), and Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), in the few weeks leading up to their prom. With the exception of Stiffler, the only one who has lost his virginity, the group vows to lose theirs before graduation each encountering their own unique obstacles along the way.
It may be clichéd at this point, but the opening scene of every movie is arguably one of the most vital in helping establish the atmosphere and set the tone. American Pie chooses to go for the jugular early by having the quintessentially clueless dad Noah Levenstein, portrayed to perfection by Eugene Levy, and Jim’s mother, walk in on their son masturbating to pornography. It is a situation that many adolescents never hope to find themselves in, but the scene’s relatability is what makes it hilarious as Noah proceeds to offer Jim some, obviously awkward and unwelcome, advice when it comes to sex.
The film has also aged remarkably well, with many of the jokes maintaining both their original freshness as well as maturing with contemporary comedies. It could be argued that this brand of cringe humour, that proved to be a successful formula for TV shows such as The Office, The Inbetweeners, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, became part of the mainstream of comedy due to the success of American Pie.
ferris bueller's day off
- Liz MacBride
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a perfect movie to watch during such a transitory and transformative period as the lengthy summer breaks between school terms. The fear of change and the ever-present threat of ‘growing up’ looms over its three central characters throughout the entire movie, as they skip a day of high school before it’s too late, and they all split up to go to different colleges. In the end it seems like Ferris and his friends are able to conquer those fears by cavorting through the streets of Chicago all day, solidifying the idea that the pressures brought on by adulthood are easily escaped. However, much like Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, the artwork at the center of the movie itself, the closer you look, the more disconnected all the different elements of the film become. We’re told to invest in Ferris’ goal from the beginning, but we’re given no real reasons to suggest why we’re supposed to be supporting him; we’re told but never really specifically shown what exactly even makes him so special or important in the first place. Ultimately, it’s like the whole movie promises adventure and intrigue, but never truly delivers an authentic sense of freedom. In a lot of ways then, the movie itself is kind of exactly like summer – brimming with unnecessary hype, anticipation, and expectations that never really fully come to fruition.
- Lauren O'Hare
Uptown Girls is a film from my childhood that created a magic I find difficult to describe. Though not a film set during summertime, it evokes that same feeling of warmth and hope, that often people metaphorically attach to summertime. Uptown Girls follows the tales of two girls, one a child, Ray, who has been forced to act like an adult, and a young woman, Molly, retrograding in the opposite direction. Uptown Girls uses the city of New York as a memory ground, enhancing the finite theme of growing up and becoming a different version of yourself. New York City acts as a structural device to enhance the glory and gore of growing up, though New York City isn’t the only place where people laugh and cry at the same time. Summer is fleeting, its joy, and its sun, as it transforms into Autumn. The Uptown Girls exist spinning, spinning, spinning like the teacup rides of Coney Island, a place of growing importance throughout the film, as they spin to new and old selves, like summer and autumn always become one another eventually. Molly and Ray find calm in the chaos in Coney Island, and that’s what summer has been for me. Lorde in her song, ‘Perfect Places’ sings; “I hate the headlines and the weather, I’m 19 and I’m on fire.” I’m 19 and I’m on fire, what could be better? Yet all this heat feels apocalyptic too.
Perhaps my takings from Uptown Girls as a summer film won’t be everyone’s, but for me it captures a duality, of knowing and not knowing, of the natural and forced. It’s a duality which reminds me of my conflicting feelings of summer, and growing up, and accepting myself as an independent person, as Molly and Ray find parts of themselves and who they want to be in each other. If anything, you’ll hopefully laugh at the pure joy of the film, and the sad parts may leave you with the same warm melancholic feelings you get from DMCs at night time. It captures a moment in New York, and a moment in New York is something I know many dream of. After all, summer is about dreaming.