Here on the East Coast, where Flavorwire is headquartered, a giant snowstorm has struck for the second time this month. All over the great city of New York, people are grumpily shuffling along in inadequate footwear. Huddled over their office desks, they count the moments until they can go home and huddle up in front of that modern equivalent of the blazing hearth: the Netflix queue.
As a native of the great frozen expanse of Canada, allow me to tell you one of our secrets for getting through winter: You have to keep the hope alive that, one day, things will be different, that you will someday be able to go outside for more than purely functional reasons. You have the keep reminding yourself that the sun exists, as do beaches and all the summery things that make the rest of the year bearable. Movies can perform this hope-extending function. So here are ten sun-drenched, but also great, films streaming on Netflix that you can watch as we endure this second awful blast of winter weather.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Anthony Minghella’s beautiful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s classic novel is set entirely in the Italian riviera. In fact, it’s even a little too bright for the murder mystery it depicts, but everything is so beautiful you certainly forgive it. Even Matt Damon’s evil murderer type is consistently bathed in golden light.
The makers of this documentary, who are also responsible for 1992’s Baraka, call it a “guided meditation.” Threading together beautiful images, generally of some kind of worship, from over 25 countries, it provides an experience pretty darn close to hypnosis. And also: colorful!
Take This Waltz
Sarah Polley’s last narrative feature is quite deliberately and explicitly set in the summer. Michelle Williams, as the central figure, wears clothing so saturated in color it is almost distracting. A fairground ride plays an integral role in the story. Toronto does what it can to keep up with the aesthetic.
Beach Blanket Bingo
You know, just once in your life you should sit down and watch one of the many beach movies that Hollywood produced in the 1960s. Yes, they’re deeply silly, and yes, they tend to abuse the practice of the “musical number,” but you’ll be able to articulate their merits and flaws at dinner parties like the pop culture historian you secretly want to be. Plus, no one will tell you this, but Beach Blanket Bingo is actually kind of… fun?
The Kids Are All Right
Lisa Cholodenko’s film about a lesbian couple whose children grow curious about their birth father is a quiet sort of film. But it’s a better piece of propaganda for the value of family, chosen and otherwise, than many a pamphlet put out by the concern trolls of the political non-profits across the spectrum. Plus: Their house is really amazing. It’s a good, “I wish I lived in LA” type of movie.
The Virgin Suicides
Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of the Jeffrey Eugenides novel is classic Coppola, all dreamy soundtrack and soft filters. But it is also an ode to summer in the suburbs, with fading sunlight winking through tree branches and even the most modest of strict-Christian-parents dresses looking a little clingy and filmy.
Movies as romantic as Cairo Time are typically about, let’s face it, much younger people than Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig play here. But they go ahead and prove that actually, romance is a much deeper and richer thing when you are older, even if it’s only a brief affair. There is a fair amount of twilight in this one, but I include it anyway because summer evenings are the best kind of night, too.
Valley of the Dolls
Just the facts: this movie, based on the unbelievably popular Jacqueline Susann novel, is absolutely amazing. In a camp way, of course; your cultural palate has to extend to enjoying watching women throw things at walls and wear fabulous coats and negligees. And to watching Sharon Tate be a regrettably bad actress. But I re-watch this often, regardless. It is somehow very watchable in spite of its flaws, a rare quality.
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Miranda July’s first movie is still my favorite of hers. It is possible that I love it because it employs John Hawkes, and John Hawkes can do no wrong in my eyes. Another film set in sunny Los Angeles, though at least the houses here seem like houses you or I (or everyone we know) could actually afford. Maybe we should all move to Los Angeles.
The Endless Summer
This iconic documentary about surfing is the ultimate wish fulfillment for a person, like me, who sometimes thinks she would have been perfectly happy as a surfer burnout. I would get more sun and not have to spend so much money on vitamin supplements and gyms. I could fall asleep to the sound of the ocean from my beach shack. Sounds pretty nice, actually. Too bad I’m almost 35 and need to save for retirement. But in the meantime this is pretty enjoyable.