By Isabelle Pinnock, Third Year, English
Summer can feel like a time that is weighed down with expectations of happiness, where a day spent doing nothing can feel like a personal failure. ‘Tis the season of endlessly scrolling through Instagram wondering how that person funded yet another European city break whilst you’ve been working at your sleepy hometown’s local pub with the same punters that have always been there, and will most likely stay there.
Today, Tilly is in *checks BeReal*, ah yes, Valencia. And today, you are *checks rota*, working a 12-9 shift on PotWash.
But if you’re a real summer worshipper, you’ll know that the beautiful bliss of it lies simply in the sun-drenched mundanity. For a few months, you are perfectly free of all adult responsibility and content doing the same things every day with mates you have had since primary school, and the worries of uni assignments far, far away.
The reasons why we love summer are the same reasons for why we love films where nothing really happens, and yet so much seems to happen; there is a certain meditative quality to the slow routine of it.
So, here is a roundup of movies that encapsulate the feels of a hazy day spent with your mates, tanned and drowsy from the sun, rolling into a warm night that lasts as long as the bonfire stays alight.
Dazed and Confused (2003)
Dir. Richard Linklater
Alright, alright, alright, nothing says summer like Matthew McConaughey's dripping swagger, even with a very dodgy trim. There has never been such a film to speak to the sense of longing for excitement experienced by youths when spending a dull summer at home. Richard Linklater hits the nail on the damn head in depicting what adolescent life is like in a sleepy commonplace town, right down to details like going for a drive as a genuine activity and paying homage to the undisputed rules of ‘shotgunning’ the front seat.
The characters in this film frequently complain of their boredom, yet everyone who has seen this film worships it for how cool it is. There is a certain poignance that reminds you when you are stuck in your office job, with no more holiday left, you will realise that six-week summer holidays spent lounging about getting perpetually stoned with your mates really were the golden days.
“Say, man, you got a joint? — It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”
Do The Right Thing (1989)
Dir. Spike Lee
This is a perfect example of a film where not a lot really happens, right up until an explosive end when everything happens. This Spike Lee joint follows 24 hours in the lives of various characters in a Brooklyn neighbourhood with Samuel L Jackson’s dulcet tones as a radio DJ making him the coolest character. Gradually, racial tensions rise and bubble until they reach boiling point.
Partially inspired by the Howard beach incident in 1986, this film is just as relevant today as it was in its release in 1989.
Full of life, warm colours, and long meandering shots, the audience is constantly reminded of how hot it is, evoking the feelings of a scorching summer day and making for one very profound extended metaphor.
Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (2019)
Dir. Quentin Tarantino
Even while in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Jake Cahill (Leonardo Dicaprio) can’t seem to find contentment, falling down the rabbit hole of a sell-out actor, and coming to terms with a rapidly changing film industry. Meanwhile, the other characters in this star-studded picture are pretty happy going about their lives.
Picking fights with Bruce Lee, inadvertently hanging out with culty, Manson-frenzied hippies, and enjoying parties at the Playboy Mansion. You know, just classic summer antics.
With all the trademarks of a Tarantino movie: dance sequences, a killer soundtrack, cheesy violence, punchy dialogue and unnecessary shots of bare feet shoehorned in, paired with the warmth of Robert Richardson’s cinematography, I imagine this film is just what a romantic summers day in the golden era of Hollywood was like.
The Florida Project (2017)
Dir. Sean Baker
Popping with vibrant colours and an incredible performance from the then eight-year-old Brooklynn Prince (which earned her the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Young Performer), this film peers through the innocent lens of a child’s summer holidays, perfectly encapsulating what life was like when you saw your mum and dad as incapable of doing any wrong, before viewing them as human.
This film will make you reminisce on the times you’d knock on your mate’s door and beg their parents to let them out to play, when climbing trees and getting ice cream were life’s greatest pleasures. Plus, Willem Dafoe is the chillest guy ever. What a film.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Dir. Phyllida Lloyd
It would be a disservice to this summer round-up not to include this absolute classic, where an unreasonably attractive cast spend their summer days singing an array of ABBA songs on a glorious Greek island.
Now, this is a film for the female gaze. The whole plot revolves around Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep) being a ‘reckless little sl*t’, which is great because no one bats an eyelid at a girl having some promiscuous fun in her youth. She is the ultimate trailblazer of hot girl summers. Not to mention how refreshing it is to see the men are sexualised just as much as the women – every Mamma Mia fan remembers the shot of the men lining up on the jetty in flippers all too well.
Of course, it is super cheesy, and whoever told Pierce Brosnan he could sing was fibbing because he can not, but we will excuse it for the sheer presence of Colin Firth reminiscing on idyllic seasons passed in ‘Our Last Summer’.
You may be the most miserable person in the world, but this film will make you feel joy no matter the circumstances. Mamma Mia feels like a holiday to Greece, albeit with a distinct lack of actual Greeks, whilst being young, sweet and only 17.
Instead of doomscrolling yourself into a pit of FOMO and daydreaming of summers where you will be able to afford lavish getaways, take a leaf out of these films, and try to enjoy the now.
You will never be this young with as little responsibility as you do right now, so seek pleasure in the simple things of everyday life this Summer.
Featured Image: IMDB
What is your favourite Summer film?