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Top 5 Summer Films

Katie Da Cunha Lewin

First up, we have a summer classic: Spike Lee’s 1989 Do the Right Thing. On this sweltering day in Brooklyn, New York, tensions are high in this neighbourhood in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mookie (played by the director) works in an Italian pizzeria that serves a predominantly African-American clientele. When an argument breaks out about the celebrities represented on the wall, the whole neighbourhood is affected by the repercussions. Taking place over the course of one day, this important film tackles gentrification, racism, and police brutality and introduced the world to the Public Enemy song ‘Fight the Power.’
 


Another summer classic is Billy Wilder’s 1959 hit Some Like it Hot. Two musicians (played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon) witness a mob murder in Chicago and look for an opportunity to run away. They find a band heading to Miami with an opening, but it’s for women only: cue two amazing transformations by Curtis and Lemon. Marilyn Monroe is Sugar Kane, and gives one of the most iconic performances of Hollywood: beautiful, sultry and vulnerable, Monroe adds an amazing depth to the film. With its unbeatable cast, gorgeous songs and (somewhat) questionable romances, this classic comedy is a great summer movie.
 


If you are looking for another comedy but want it a million times sillier, check out Wet Hot American Summer. Following the day in the life of camp counsellors, this movie from 2001 takes on an 80s aesthetic to pastiche the camp movie. Featuring some appearances from now famous Hollywood comedy stalwarts (think Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, and the first professional role for a certain Bradley Cooper), this movie uses all the clichés of that genre to great – and extraordinarily silly - effect.
 


For an entirely different take on summer heat, the British film My Summer of Love explores a blossoming relationship between two young women in a Yorkshire summer.  Tamsin and Mona meet, both bored and lonely, one from an upper-middle class family, one from a working-class family and encounter resistance and incredulity about how they feel for another one. Starring a stellar cast of British actors, including Emily Blunt in her first role and Paddy Considine, My Summer of Love suggests the possibility of summer, and the lasting effect it can have on a life.
 


Our final recommendation comes from the classic director Norman Jewison and his exploration of race and crime in steamy Mississippi in In the Heat of the Night. Sidney Poitier plays a police detective named Virgil Tibbs, wrongly arrested for the murder of a wealthy industrialist. Tibbs helps the police who have arrested him to solve the murder, encountering scepticism and racism from the local community. In this powerful film, Jewison uses the setting to great effect, adopting the metaphor of heat to expose simmering tensions in American society.
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