A nice “Summer” vacation on the Criterion Channel
Hey again, cinephiles. We’re just on the verge of a new batch of Criterion Channel arrivals on August 1, but I thought it might be fun to just suggest some flicks based on a theme. I decided to search “Summer” and found that Criterion Channel has more than a dozen movies with summer in the title alone. Here are three world cinema classics I’ll eagerly recommend.
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Back in 2018, Criterion put out a box set containing 39 of Ingmar Bergman’s feature films, plus a few miniseries, some shorts, and a bunch of extras. It’s called Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema, and I made myself a challenge that if I bought the box set (which I did last year), I would watch everything by the end of 2020. So far I have watched 23 movies and 1 miniseries (if you want to see what I’ve watched, I’ve made a list on Letterboxd and I keep a kind of diary in my Instagram stories).
Bergman actually has three different movies in the set — and on Criterion Channel — with “Summer” in the title. But Summer Interlude and Summer with Monika are both doomed romances that are kind of sad. (Bergman is famously not the cheeriest of directors.) I’d much rather recommend his breakthrough comedy Smiles of a Summer Night. There’s some signature sadness here, but mostly it’s a delightful romantic comedy full of farcical entanglements, seasoned with plenty of witty quips.
Dry Summer (1963)
This Turkish film from director Metin Erksan was restored through Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project. It’s a darkly comic tale of greed, lust, and betrayal. A stubborn farmer dams up the spring that runs through his property so that nearby farms get none of the water. This triggers a war with his neighbors. Meanwhile, the farmer lusts after the new bride of his younger brother, plotting to find new ways to get close to her. It’s a fascinating film, and not widely seen in the U.S.
Capricious Summer (1968)
There was much upheaval, socially and in the film world, in the ’60s, which led to a number of “New Wave” movements worldwide. While the French New Wave is easily the most famous, the Czechoslovak New Wave should not be forgotten. The films that were produced in this time are odd and beautiful and honest. One of the leading filmmakers of the Czechoslovak New Wave was Jiří Menzel, whose tragically funny Closely Watched Trains won the Best Foreign Film Academy Award in 1968. That same year, Menzel’s follow-up, Capricious Summer was released. It’s a quiet comedy about three middle-aged men whose lazy summer is thrown into mild chaos by the arrival of some circus performers.
More Pop Culture Beast – Criterion Channel Picks:
*Criterion Channel Picks: Sports flicks for Opening Day, July 23, 2020
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 16, 2020: Last House on the Left & More
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 9, 2020: Contemporary Color & More
*Criterion Channel Picks – July 2, 2020: But I’m a Cheerleader & More
Justin Remer makes movies, directs music videos, and plays in the bands Duck the Piano Wire and Elastic No-No Band when he is not writing movie reviews. His folk-rock documentary MAKING LOVERS & DOLLARS is currently streaming on Amazon.