“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
Summer is many things to many people, but for this particular film lover it’s an especially wonderful time of year. While big summer blockbusters—which I haven’t much followed or cared for since I was a teenager—take over the multiplexes and dominate the box office during these summer months, there are other smaller, quieter joys to be found. To my mind, few things top the pure pleasure of ducking into a movie theater in the middle of a warm or sweltering day, leaving the brightness and heat behind for a couple of hours of dark, air-conditioned bliss. Believe it or not, even in Seattle, some days you need to find a way to beat the heat.
Some of my best summer memories, both as a kid and an adult, involved going to the movies: counting down the days until Batman (1989) would be released on the wall calendar in my room, watching Terminator 2—my first R-rated movie!—on opening day with my dad, spending a day with my new girlfriend (now wife) watching a triple bill of silly 1970s Woody Allen comedies (Sleeper, Love & Death, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex…) at a local theater in college, avoiding the smothering heat shortly after our move to Texas by attending the QT Fest at the original Alamo Drafthouse, sharing a bucketful of Rolling Rocks with an old friend while Tarantino gleefully presented his “Grab-Bag of Exploitation Night”(Shark, Billy Jack, and Big Bullet), taking my six-month old daughter to weekly matinee screenings for parents back when I was a brand-new dad, seeing The Tree of Life alone on a summer afternoon a few years ago and walking around in a daze—in sheer awe of the world—for the rest of the day.
A good movie can do that to you.
This month, we’re casting our net over the wide expanse of summer, in all its various cinematic shades, from Rear Window to Do the Right Thing to Dirty Dancing. (And I can absolutely guarantee you those three films have never been used in the same sentence before.) It’s a diverse issue and an enjoyable one, filled with incisive writing about heat, mystery, murder, love, memory, and nostalgia.
We begin with Kelsey Ford’s take on Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful NYC summer masterpiece. Next, Fran Hoepfner compares and contrasts the hilarious highs and lows of camp life in Wet Hot American Summer with her own summer camp experiences growing up, followed by Sabina Stent’s take on summer, male fantasy, and Marilyn Monroe inThe Seven Year Itch. After that, Kevin Harris writes about the effects of heat on an already unstable mind in Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, and Jacqueline Ristola reflects on the continued importance of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing more than 25 years after its release.
The last half of the issue traffics heavily in nostalgia: Amanda McCleod writes about her deep love of Dirty Dancing, John Douglass pines for an idyllic era he was too young to ever know inThe Sandlot, Gillian Singletary reflects on wayward college summers and Adventureland, and Anna Sjogren documents her experience at a recent 30th anniversary (!) outdoor screening of The Goonies, in the town where much of it was filmed.
It was a fun issue to put together, and hopefully we’ve managed to capture a little bit of summer for you in these pages. If we did our job right, you might not even need to go outside today. But you still should—even if it’s just to walk to a movie theater.