I’m not gonna lie to you – summer is not the best time for indie films. At least not for me. In fact, watching films in general becomes trickier than ever throughout the summer months (and I’m not even mentioning the 1001 Movies Challenge, ’cause god knows what happens with that!).
It would probably be a whole different story if I lived in NYC. I’d be at every film screening at Bryant Park and go to every rooftop festival in Brooklyn. I’d spare some nights for the concerts in the park, too though, and would definitely want to see some of the plays. Oh, NYC summer nights would be busy!!
However, as I’m still here, I opt for my typical Czech summer routine.
The summer days are long, the nights are warm and one simply tends to spend more time outside. And since there are no outdoor cinemas as exciting as those in New York, staying out in the evenings does not include watching films for me. Most of the time, I just stay longer in our garden. And when I get back in and have a late dinner, all I really want is to relax and unwind.
It’s definitely not a time for strong stories which I normally love so much and so often find among the indies. It doesn’t mean I don’t watch any, but I tend to watch my all time summer picks for the most part. And those include mostly adventure, comedy and romance. If you can mix it all together, then all the better!
The following are some of the films I most often find myself in mood for once the sun gets unbearably hot, and evenings get sensationally warm, and when all you need is a glass of good wine (and maybe a little pot of ice cream) and a comfy couch to curl up on – and to just press play.
This is the first film I always want to watch once the weather starts getting hot. It brings just about the right summer feel. A great adventure with a lot of good laughs. Just what I love. AND the one and only Harrison Ford. I mean, can you EVER imagine anyone else in this role? I certainly can’t. I love him in comedy roles, but this one has to be my all time favorite.
Sometimes, all I need is a late spring day when the sun starts to burn a little too much and I’m already dusting off the Indy DVDs. My personal favorite will forever be The Last Crusade – you simply can’t beat the Ford-Connery duo! The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes second, followed by Raiders of the Lost Ark and finally The Temple of Doom. Not that I watch it in this order (although this year accidentaly did 😀 )
The Mask Of Zorro
This is the romantic adventure at its best! It simply has it all – the old-fashioned romantic type of hero, love, adventure, comedy (the Indiana-Jones-Spielbergian type of comedy), fine actors AND the most beautiful soundtrack I’ve ever heard.
For me Zorro is the ultimate romantic hero. And to truly understand me means understanding my love for this character (and this film). The one I’d like to marry ever since I was a child. And with the face of Antonio Banderas, well, it can’t get much better than that. Plus I have a thing for men in black with a cape and a hat. I also love the art of swordplay. Zorro is simply smoking hot and the sexiest hero I’ve ever seen. And of course he fights on the right side of the law.
Seriously, my undying love for this character pretty much defines me.
As for Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom I known prior to the Zorro film as Sheherezade from Les 1001 Nuits, pairing her with Antonio Banderas was a dream come true. To me, a kid at the time of Sheherezade, she was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I wanted to look just like her (the fact that I’m a natural blonde wasn’t much in favor of that, though).
Honestly, I’m not sure there has ever been a more beautiful on-screen couple in the entire history of cinema. It just doesn’t get better than this!! They’re the definition of perfect.
Luckily, they’re both great actors, too – as of course is Anthony Hopkins in the role of the ‘original Zorro’. I love the scenes where he trains Alejandro to become his successor. They’re probably the best part.
Nah, seriously, this film is great. I know that it doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but I will never understand why. For me it really is a masterpiece. Adventurous masterpiece. A take on this classic hero that has absolutely no competition. And no, there’s no need to make more Zorro movies. (Which is why I decided to erase the sequel from my memory because it’s just so bad). It’s got humour, some great quotes that will make you laugh out loud and will stick to your mind and of course that epic soundtrack. Oh, we miss you James Horner!
P.S. That dance seen!
The Sissi trilogy with Romy Schneider in the lead about the Austrian-Hungarian Empress Elizabeth (called Sissi), is another of my all time favorites and something for which I will always have a soft spot in my heart.
I’ve read tons of books about Sissi, most of them through summer holidays. And probably because summer always brings back memories not just of the afternoons spent with these books, but also of our family vacation in Vienna – the only true family vacation we’ve ever been on – I always feel like watching these films. (And also like going to Vienna – but pressing play on the DVD is somewhat easier and more practical than the 4-hour drive).
Apart from all the beautiful gowns, beautiful palaces and beautiful Austria and Bavaria, I love the portrayal of the relationship of Sissi’s parents (you simply gotta love this unconventional royal family of Vickie and Max!) and I also love Sophie’s (the willain mother-in-law) husband Franz Karl who hears only what he wants to hear and says ‘bravo’ to everything. And if that wasn’t enough of comedy for you, then there’s the colonel Böckel who’s desperately in love with the Empress.
These films just seem to be escaping time. They never get old and became part of Vienna’s history as much as the royal family itself!
A Good Year
My favorite role of all of Russel Crowe’s. I’m not a huge fan, but I absolutely adore him in the role of Max Skinner, a British investment broker with a heart of stone, if he has any at all.
When Max gets the news of his uncle’s passing, he takes a trip to France, to the house in Provence, where he spent a huge part of his childhood, with the single intention: to sign the inheritance papers, take pictures for his real estate agent-friend and sell it.
Oh, the ungrateful son of a bitch! (sorry, but he really is, and I love it! 😀 ). Who would sell this absolutely amazing house in the middle of Provence! A little piece of heaven anyone who loves France would kill for. But such is Max.. Luckily unforseen circumstance make him stay longer and discover a much laid-back lifestyle he might wanna trade for the English hectic one.. He might even have a heart in the end!
This film depicts everything I love France. And makes me green with envy for this house in Provence. It’s actually my ultimate dream – a house in Provence with a vineyard. I mean… is there a better life than that?! Everytime I watch this film, I feel like I myself am on a vacation there. It’s an ultimate feel good movie and it brings so much peace and happiness into my soul.. As does France.
P.S. Gotta love Max’s relationship with his assistant! 😀
Under the Tuscan Sun
Ok, this is the alternative for when things go wrong with the Provence house. I’d like one in Tuscany then. Sadly, I’ve never been to Tuscany, but I’ve always been fascinated by it and drawn to it. Yes, I should finally do something about it, I know! But back to the film..
The story of an American author (Diane Lane) who takes a vacation to Italy as part of her new beginning after divorcing her husband, and then on a whim decides to buy a house and stay there, is similarly as A Good Year a very feel good movie. Only this time set in beautiful Tuscany as opposed to Provence. It’s a heart-warming, uplifting story about taking chances, finding new family and starting new chapter by taking the road less traveled. All wrapped up in the fantastic Italian flavors! A perfect summer treat.
Le Magnifique (The Man From Acapulco)
There’s no one more magnifique than Jean-Paul Belmondo. Definitely not in the role of Bob Saint Clar – the fictional hero of Francois Merlain, the author of trash crime books (both played by Belmondo).
This is my absolute favorite of all of his films and probably my all time favorite comedy, too. It’s so silly, so ridiculous… and yet so perfect. A perfect pick for a summer night when you don’t want to think too much, with Belmondo at his best. Words are unnecessary here, this film just needs to be seen and experienced!
I’ll be back in August with another set of films but meanwhile, I’d love to hear some of your favorites so please, feel free to leave a comment!