In the summer of 2014, filmmaker Ceyda Torun returned home to shoot what she so dearly missed, Istanbul’s street cats. This documentary painstakingly puzzles together the lives of seven felines that weave themselves into the wonder of this ancient city that has long been the playground of thousands of strays. One might think this is just a cute concept, but it provides a sense of the city and its inhabitants in a manner that can mesmerise like the eyes of an Egyptian Mau.
The burgeoning attraction between the innocent Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and the dreamy and steamy bad-boy Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) is what gave foundation to the term ‘Summer Love’ for us ’90s kid-romantics. Baby’s family is white wealthy, and decide to spend their summer vacationing at the Kellerman’s, a family resort with sweeping acres of golf grounds, pools, fancy clubhouses and more. A little bored with the archetypical luxury vacay, Baby wanders away and crosses paths with Johnny, an in-house professional dancer offering lessons and leading the staff in some ‘dirty’ dance parties for pick-me-ups after long days. Baby is floored by Johnny and more so by his passion for the art, and quickly falls in step—literally with him. What follows is a summer of stolen kisses, dances and two worlds colliding.
Any plotline in the Ocean’s movies is a flimsy excuse for the real show: a supercharged dose of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, et al as a gang of urbane, globetrotting thieves, exuding movie-star charisma nearly as blinding as the Mediterranean heat. While Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Thirteen set the action in Las Vegas, Twelve is a personal favourite for its tres chic European cadence, every backdrop (Amsterdam, Rome, Sicily) more gorgeous than the next. Don’t stop to overthink the actual shenanigans, which entail a ridiculously ironic heist of the Faberge egg. Ocean’s Twelve, like summer, demands that you put your feet up, grab that beer and take a load off.
Jilted by his long-time girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) heads to Hawaii, hoping to be serenaded by the island’s swooning coastline. Much to his chagrin, at the Turtle Bay resort he spirals further when he bumps into his ex, already canoodling a kooky British rock star. Peter’s mopey attempts at dealing with his singledom, while sincere, also become fodder for a slew of gags involving a funny cast of characters who make up the resort staff and guests, including front desk concierge Rachel (Mila Kunis) and Paul Rudd as a hilariously jaded surfer man-child. Hawaii needs no overselling but its soothing charms as the ultimate post-heartbreak getaway might be this rom-com’s most underrated achievement.
This Woody Allen-favourite romance-drama takes us straight to the heart of an idyllic European summer, where two friends—the more practical Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and head-in-the-clouds Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) vacation in Barcelona. Through a storyline which features amidst much of the city’s Gaudí splendors, the two women meet with—and take a fancy to—Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), celebrated painter and your typical Latin lover. Added to this love triangle is a fourth oddity—Antonio’s former wife Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz), who is very beautiful and very unhinged.
Matthew Broderick plays Ferris, a bratty high-schooler from Chicago, who wakes up bored one day and convinces his best friend and ball of anxiety Cameron to skip class along with Ferris’s girlfriend Sloane. The trio dash off in a red-hot Ferrari convertible that belongs to Cameron’s father to gallivant all over the city, catching a baseball game at Wrigley Field, climbing the Sears Tower, and stopping by to gawk at paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago, a scene often recreated at the site by the film’s devotees. In 2021, this 1980s classic should feel dated but such is the impact of its message of “carpe diem” teen abandon that even today inside many a middle-aged heart, there is a Ferris Bueller waiting to explode.
A boozy California summer is a promising stage for any story. But when the sunshine greens of Napa Valley serve as the reunion grounds for Amy Poehler’s gang of harried, hilarious and occasionally cuckoo girlfriends, you gotta string along for the ride. The company is sparkling. Six forty/fifty-something women—SNL veterans and real-life friends Maya Rudolph (Naomi), Ratchel Dratch (Rebecca), Ana Gasteyer (Catherine), Paula Pell (Val), Emily Spivey (Jenny), and Poehler (bossy group-Mama Abby)—are out to celebrate the shaky milestone of a 50th birthday. If you can’t tell already, they are sort to get themselves punch-drunk on excess laughter: wry to goofy to raunchy. Inspired by an actual getaway to the wine country for Dratch’s 50th birthday, Poehler’s feature directorial debut serves up a relatable insight into the sometimes fruity, sometimes tart, sparingly bitter notes of lasting female friendship. Bonus visits from Tina Fey, Cherry Jones, and Liz Cakcowski—and you will not mind that the movie doesn’t rely on plot points. Instead, it grabs onto the meandering but reassuring quality of everyday gaffes, meltdowns, patch-ups and most importantly, conversations. Bungled BnB hook ups, dodgy tarot sessions and Millennial art exhibits, rolling (down) vineyard slopes, and big, blurry swigs from Valley pubs mix rather well in this glass. But don’t swirl and sniff. Down it in a gulp, and you might be nostalgic for summers yet to arrive, and the middle age you now wish to live.
–Sohini Das Gupta