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  • Jennifer

...Escapist "My Summer Movie List"

With the summer solstice approaching on June 21st, and then the deep, underwater days of summer, which I always estimate to be between July 28th and August 3th (the sleepiest, dreamiest week of my calendar year), I bestow upon you my “Summer Movie List.” A la a high school teacher and her “Summer Reading List.” It’s time to enjoy the longer daylight, the warmer temps, and the magic of nature which is on full bountiful display during this one precious season.

What makes a great summer movie? For me, it’s all about “transportation.” Escapist entertainment. I want to be brought somewhere. Bring me to the outer galaxy where I make alien “Contact,” or the galaxy underneath our own sea where I try to avoid being chomped on by a great white shark (a.k.a. a carcharodon carcharias) called “Jaws.” Or cart me off to the hot, sweaty jungles of Latin America where I get to fall in love with con-man-turns-good-guy Jack T. Colton. I then get to fall in love with him again as I’m whisked off to the dreamy world of sun-drenched indigo scarves, long-lashed camels, and silky whipped cream sand dunes in North Africa. Hello, “Romancing the Stone” and “Jewel of the Nile.” I am in summer movie heaven. And who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned ‘80s American road trip? Watch “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” Walley World, you make me fantasize about being ten again.

Some of the below movies are Hollywood blockbusters. Cue big, bold excitement. And special effects. Others are quiet, feathery, contemplative films. Call it the Sun and the Moon. The Yin and Yang. Either way, you’re in for a ride. So, if it’s Saturday night, and you’re done mowing the lawn, running your errands at the AC overloaded mall, and are all freshly showered sans that gooey sunscreen, grab your summer beverage of choice – wine, tea, beer? How about a sunny Arnold Palmer (half iced tea and half lemonade)? Sit back, and let these movies take you away. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.


1. ROMANCING THE STONE (1984) – a whopping #1 on my “25 Favorite Films” list. Need I say more? But seriously, this movie, set in both New York City and South America, is action-packed, smooch-filled, colorful, and fun. It fills you with life – a PERFECT movie for the hot, hot days of summer. Olé!

2. OUT OF AFRICA (1985) – an impressive #3 on my “25 Favorite Films” list. I love to watch this movie on a summer night, with my 10th floor terrace door open, letting in all those warm summer night breezes. We're talkin' atmosphere. This movie transports you, and your living room, to Africa – and leaves you feeling mystified and misty-eyed. It’s simply beautiful.

3. JAWS (1975) – lucky #7 on my “25 Favorite Films” list. We all know the terror this movie bestows. It is the quintessential summer flick, and perhaps 4th of July flick. A handful of sand, a menacing dorsal fin, and a boat-load of screams – this movie reigns supreme in its horror-filled majesty.

4. CONTACT (1997) – an inspiring #12 on my “25 Favorite Films” list. This intergalactic movie gets you gazing all wistfully at those summer night stars. Summer is a great time for dreaming about the mysteries of our universe – and this movie takes you to that thought-provoking, exciting, and poignant place.

5. THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996) – an unlucky #13 on my “25 Favorite Films” list. This film indeed chronicles the unluckiness of a lovelorn couple in World War II North Africa. Hauntingly beautiful, this is my favorite movie set in the steamy Sahara Desert. Are there many? Anyway, it's my numero uno. This movie is poetry – be sure to keep a box of tissues handy.

6. CAST AWAY (2000) – this movie is classic summer escapist entertainment. When I want to disconnect from the world, and not listen to a lot of dialogue except for fun conversations between a South Pacific plane crash survivor and his volleyball named Wilson, who are trapped on a desert island for years – this is my "go-to" flick.

7. THE JEWEL OF THE NILE (1985) – let’s head back to the Sahara Desert (ie, movie #5) and hang out with the lovable characters from Romancing the Stone (ie, movie #1). This hilarious sequel is fun, exciting, and big-time – just like the 1980s decade in which it was made.

8. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008) – an awesome “ancient aliens” plot-line. This movie ties as my favorite with Temple of Doom in the Indiana Jones franchise. I love its South America setting with crazy monkeys, man-eating bugs the size of New York City roaches on steroids, and a UFO the size of a Pre-Columbian pyramid. This movie ROCKS for the summer.

9. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) – another heart-stopping alien movie, but without all the "handsome archaeologist swash-buckling” of great Indiana Jones. This movie is quieter, more mysterious, and psychological. It might just be the best Oscar-worthy alien move ever made. It makes you want to take a midnight walk to listen to summer crickets. But beware of alien craft.

10. NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION (1983) – how can anyone not love this “summer American road trip” flick? This movie was MADE to be watched during the dog days of summer. Speaking of a dog – it also has an amusement park with a moose for a mascot, and cheeky little scenes starting from Chicago and parking in LA. Watch this movie and laugh until it hurts!

11. INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996) – okay, so this movie for obvious reasons might usurp Jaws as the best 4th of July movie ever. Anyway, it is the ultimate summer blockbuster – exciting doomsday alien theme, exciting special effects, and enough A-list actors to keep you glued to your couch. Despite my intentions, whenever it comes on TV – I get sucked in!

12. APOCALYPTO (2006) – every summer movie list needs a great epic. This is mine. It’s a 16th century Mayan adventure that mesmerizes me with its lush Central America setting, and its chronicling of a mysteriously powerful culture. I love this nail-biting, suspense-filled saga.

What are some of your favorite summer movies – Grease, On Golden Pond, or maybe Anaconda??? E-mail me and I might do a follow-up post!!!

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