My favourite summer films

I haven’t blogged much recently and I probably won’t be for another month or two – I’ve been studying for my last exam and within a week I’ll start to work on my bachelor’s thesis (I’m finally finishing my undergraduate degree in September and moving to Prague in January for my Master’s). Because I’ve been too busy to watch any new women-directed films, I am skipping a month of my Year of Female Filmmakers. However, I’ve decided to make a list of my favourite films to watch in the summer instead (which I think is kind of appropriate considering the heat wave that is currently hitting Europe).

Edit, 2.7.2016: A whole year already went by and instead of making another list like this one, I decided to make some changes with the list I published last year. I tried to include as many different films as possible – from different time periods, genres, and most importantly, different countries. You may not find all of your favourite Hollywood summer films here, but then again, at least a hundred of lists with these films on it already exist.

  1. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) – this was the first Godard film I ever saw and it immediately made me fall in love with French New Wave and Anna Karina.
  2. L’avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960) – the first part of Antonioni’s trilogy, about the search of a woman who disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip.
  3. La dolce vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
  4. Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964)
  5. La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991) – this film is a masterpiece, but it’s certainly not for everyone, considering it’s 237 minutes long. I watched it after I read a particularly amazing interpretation of the film in Žižek’s The Plague of Fantasies – and I recently re-watched it in my philosophical class on Aesthetics, which made me appreciate this film even more.
  6. White Material (Claire Denis, 2009) – Isabelle Huppert plays a (white) French farmer who runs a coffee plantation in Africa and decides to stay there in spite of an erupting civil war.This is just one of many Denis’s films focused on post-colonial West Africa and I probably don’t have to point out Huppert’s absolutely brilliant performance (she is easily my favourite currently working actress).
  7. Chocolat (Claire Denis, 1988) – no, this is not Chocolat with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. It’s another Denis’s film about a French family that lives in colonial Cameroon.
  8. The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973) – two sisters, neglected by their parents in a rural Spain where the aftermath of their Civil War still hangs in the air, wander around the countryside and slowly cross from reality into a fantasy world that one of the girls constructs for herself.
  9. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010) – this was the first Thai film that ever won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. And deservingly so – Weerasethakul is a wonderful director. His films Tropical Malady and Blissfully Yours also deserve to be on this list, if anyone’s interested in exploring his work even further.
  10. Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968) – this is probably my favourite film by Pasolini. It’s about the bourgeois Italian family that gets seduced by a mysterious man who suddenly enters their lives.
  11. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013) – Sorrentino’s 2013 Oscar-winning masterpiece that will make you want to visit Rome the second the ending credits will start to roll on the screen. A modern-day La dolce vita.
  12. Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
  13. Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006) – Sissako might be more known for his last film Timbuktu, but I deliberately chose to include this film on the list for it is one of the best and most relevant films I’ve seen lately and yet seems to be greatly overlooked. If you’re still sceptical about whether to see it or not, here is the trailer that will most definitely get you hooked.
  14. Touki Bouki (Djidril Diop, 1973) – an amazing Senegalese drama about two young lovers and students who dream about going to Paris and are trying to come up with the money for the trip. However, I wouldn’t recommend this to vegans and all other sensitive people who don’t stand the sight of dead animals on screen.
  15. Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
  16. Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat, 2001) – this English translation is actually not the best one; it would be more appropriate to call it For My Sister. Like most of Breillat’s work, this film sparkled a lot of controversy upon it’s release for it focuses on the relationship between two sisters on summer vacation and their awakening sexuality.
  17. Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971) – Australian girl and  her younger brother get lost in the desert after they escape from their father who goes mad in the heat of the day – only to cross paths with an Aboriginal boy who, although unable to communicate with them, saves their lives and brings them back to the city life. While there is a lot to appreciate about this film, it is its cinematography that is particularly breathtaking.
  18. Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) – one of modern Italian classics about living in  Sicily, growing up and finding life’s meaning through watching films and working in a town’s movie house. An absolute delight of a film.
  19. 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957) – Hot summer day and 12 jurors caught in a court-room, trying to reach an unanimous decision. One of the best dramas one can wishes for.
  20. Summer’s Tale (Eric Rohmer, 1996) – this is just the first Rohmer film on this list. I love this man, and there is no other director whose films are more enjoyable to watch in the summertime.
  21. 35 Shots of Rum
  22. La collectionneuse (Eric Rohmer, 1967)
  23. Claire’s Knee (Eric Rohmer, 1970)
  24. Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995) – I could re-watch this trilogy every year for the rest of my life and never get sick of it. I love the dialogues and I absolutely adore Jesse and Celine – you rarely come across characters that are so human and real and with the dialogues that resonate with you on such a personal level.
  25. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
  26. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) – on the hottest day of the year everyone’s hate and racial intolerance builds up until it explodes into violence. Spike Lee’s best film to date – and an absolute cult movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, maybe start with this one.
  27. Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970)
  28. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, 2013)
  29. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
  30. Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, 2013) – this is not a regular summer love story between Franck and Michel (two gay men that meet at the beach) – because Michel may or may not be the killer of his ex-boyfriend who mysteriously drowned a couple of nights before. An unexpectedly good thriller that I recommend to everyone who doesn’t have a problem with male nudity and explicit gay sex scenes.
  31. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
  32. L’argent de poche (Francois Truffaut, 1976)
  33. Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001)
  34. Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
  35. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975) – the ultimate mystery story about students and a teacher from Australian girls’ school who vanish without a trace during a school trip.
  36. Volver (Pedro Almodovar, 2006)
  37. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)
  38. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller, 2015) – since I’ve already written an extensive review of this film, I won’t go any more into it. But I do urge you to see this film if you haven’t already.
  39. Home (Ursula Meier, 2008) – an unexpectedly good first feature film by French-Swiss director, once again with the one and only Isabelle Huppers in the main role.
  40. Pauline a la plage (Eric Rohmer, 1983)
  41. The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung, 1993) – haven’t seen a Vietnamese film before? You can start with this one.
  42. Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)
  43. Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993) – I don’t think any words are needed here. An ultimate classic that even got a sequel Everyone Wants Some!! this year.
  44. Tu dors Nicole (Stephane Lafleur, 2014) – one of last year’s hidden gems. Absolutely delightful to watch.
  45. Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski, 1962)
  46. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
  47. She’s Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986)
  48. The Adventures of Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994) – two drag queens and a transsexual travel across the Australian desert to perform their unique style of cabaret. And if this alone doesn’t win you over: it’s starring Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp.
  49. Swimming Pool (Francois Ozon, 2003)
  50. Something in the Air
  51. The Band’s Visit (Eran Kolirin, 2007) – Israeli film about a Ceremonial Police Orchestra travelling from Israel to Egypt where they experience all sorts of complications due to a miscommunication between Israeli and Arab language. An amazing film with quite a few comic elements.
  52. Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)
  53. Summer with Monika (Ingmar Bergman, 1953) – early Bergman with Harriet Andersson in the role of Monika – do I need to say more?
  54. The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
  55. La Cienaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2001) – ever wondered how life of an Argentinian bourgeois family looks like? If so, see this film by Martel whose films, as products of New Argentine Cinema, are quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
  56. Mustang (Deniz Gamze Erguven, 2015)
  57. Everyone Else (Maren Ade, 2009)
  58. Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970)
  59. Paradise: Love (Ulrich Seidl, 2012)
  60. Tracks (John Curran, 2013)
  61. City of God (Fernando Meirelles & Katia Lund, 2002)
  62. The Darjeeling Limited
  63. A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino, 2015)
  64. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001)
  65. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012) – you probably all know this film by now. However, if you still haven’t seen it, maybe this review will convince you to finally give it a try.

For the extended version visit my Letterboxd list.