GFT Blog: Summer on Screen


We're halfway through summer, and so far we've been spoiled with some brilliant weather and some even better film on the big screen at GFT: from Ari Aster's Midsommar, to Do the Right Thing in 4k as part of our CineMasters: Spike Lee season, to the latest from Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time in... Hollywood (screening in both 35mm and digital). On the blog this month, the GFT team talk about their favourite summer films. Tell us yours in the comments!

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My dad introduced me to Dazed and Confused when I was 11 and it remains a film that I still love to watch. It follows teenagers at the end of term and the start of summer and the group spans all years, ‘freshmen’ students who are being initiated into high school by the graduating seniors; modes include baseball bats for the boys or being doused in flour and ketchup for the girls.

But it’s really about the party and all the cliques weaving in and out of each other’s stories: the jocks, the nerds, the stoners, the popular girls and how they feel about life, their place in it and where they’re headed. It’s ambling, reflective and fun and makes you wish you’d been a teenager in the '70s.  Bonus points for the soundtrack, '70s style and a young Parker Posey, Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey, whose character Wooderson has some solid one liners: ‘you’ve just gotta keep livin’ man. L.I.V.I.N’.

Georgia Stride 
Knowledge and Network Coordinator

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I rewatched Stand By Me last summer. It’s still (imho) the greatest movie about childhood ever made. There’s something so deeply touching about that group of boys and their journey together. It perfectly crystallises that most difficult of expressions - what it’s like growing up. I challenge anyone to watch that film and not in some way relate it to what they experienced in the summers of their youth. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone? That about sums it up.

Gavin Crosby
Design and Digital Coordinator

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Considering your favourite summer films is of course heavily led by nostalgia, and while I’ve gone for a fairly recent addition to the pack, it is because it manages to evoke that exact nostalgia and wistfulness every step of the way. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey is vibrant and joyful, melancholic and tragic, fully immersive, and makes you long for youth while also easing the loss of it. Sasha Lane bowled me over in her film debut and Shia LaBeouf affirmed my faith in him (even if it had been tested plenty of times). One of the best road trip movies in recent years.

Sanne Jehoul
GSFF Co-director

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When anyone mentions the humid heat of summer on screen, the first film that comes to mind for me is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Richard Brooks, based on the play by Tennessee Williams. Elizabeth Taylor is electric as Maggie ‘the Cat’, playing perfectly off Paul Newman as the alcoholic and closeted Brick. The stifling heat throughout enhances the palpably oppressive environment, as the various family dramas unfold and the true nature of Brick’s relationship with his old friend Skipper is realised. Although Brick’s homosexuality isn’t presented as explicitly in the film as it is in Williams’ original play, Newman’s performance is so nuanced that the message is still clear. A taut critique of gender and family roles and expectations amidst a wealth of fantastic performances. For anyone that also gets cranky and hot-headed with their family in the summer heat, it’s definitely relatable! Oh the mendacity of it all.

Emma van der Putten
Industry Coordinator

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In 1997, my friends and I stole my mum’s VHS of Dirty Dancing and I fell in love. As the Ronnette’s started singing I was transported to the Catskills summer resort, I was obsessed with the fashion, the dancing and the dramatic soundtrack. Throughout the years of re-watching the fuzzy context of class tensions, abortions, and a fading world became clearer. I learned to appreciate the difficulty of the final lift and how you definitely should not trust your cousin who promises he’ll be able to catch you. But after all these years when those opening bars strike up I’m back in my childhood bedroom, walking about the Catskills, learning how to dance. 

Rebecca McSheaffrey
Children and Young People Coordinator

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At uni, my room-mate covered her wall in a giant poster of Brad Pitt (in his long-haired Legends of the Fall guise) while my wall was adorned by Johnny Utah. Point Break, with Keanu Reeves’ role as the “Quarterback Punk”/FBI hotshot turned undercover surfer dude, was the summer film played constantly in my teens, but the appeal wasn’t all down to Keanu. Director Kathryn Bigelow’s LA-set tale of surfers and robbers had it all: action, drama, comedy, jeopardy, terrible hairstyles and, at its heart, bromance.

The plot is ridiculous – Utah learns to surf as part of an investigation into a gang of bank robbers who call themselves ‘The Ex-Presidents’ – the characters are clichéd and the dialogue appears to be sending the whole thing up. But somehow it all just works.

Patrick Swayze’s surfer guru Bodhi and Utah’s FBI partner Pappas (Gary Busey) are both mentors to Utah, both strong-willed true believers of very different laws. As Utah, Keanu’s delivery of his lines is almost as stiff as the pink surfboard he carries everywhere. But what he did nail was the chemistry with Swayze, his inner wild cutting itself a little looser every time he catches a wave. But will he catch the criminals? You can probably guess, but it’s a lot of fun finding out.

Lindsay Clydesdale
Marketing Manager

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Yes; I was one of the naïve teenagers lured in to believing that the world was changing for the better and people all over the world would love and respect each other and share the resources of the planet in ways sympathetic to the overall ecological balance of nature. In fact it was a diversion from the political shenanigans of a minority of powerful people looking to increase their already shameful exploitation of the planet for profit. If only my generation hadn't been so politically blind and had focussed our energies in revolutionary activity instead of hedonistic pleasures such as watching Woodstock the movie and indulging in mind altering substances the world might now be a better place: it could hardly be much worse! I offer my apologies to the present generation of young people. Rest assured I am now more tuned in to politics and the issues around planet abuse.

John Lafferty
GFT volunteer

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For me, I Know What You Did Last Summer is a summer must watch. I first saw it on a rented VHS at a friend’s sleepover. This was back when I wasn’t allowed to watch scary movies at home so used to binge them at friends’ houses, horrified and curious all at the same time.

 It’s a great time capsule film of 1990s teen movie stars, with Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr and Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. It’s also full wonderful nonsense moments – Ryan Phillippe hanging out a car’s sunroof, Jennifer Love Hewitt screaming “What are you waiting for?!” while spinning in circles in the middle of a street, and poor Buffy having her hair hacked off in the middle of the night. 

Oh and the villain has a hook-wielding, note-leaving mad man. What’s not to love?

Emma McDonald
Youth Programme Officer

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I was mostly out and about during the summer exploring and hunting out sticklebacks in the River Wandle or riding around annoying the cast of The Bill who used to film in our area! But one film that does stand out to me as my summer film is Dirty Dancing. My friends and I would obsess over the songs in the film and sing them whilst riding around the local parks. We thought we were so cool! Many a time did we try to re-enact the log scene on a random fence or wall, arguing of course over who got to be Baby and inevitably someone would fall off and scraped knees and tears would follow! As an adult it’s a film with an enormous amount of nostalgia and automatically takes me back to summer holidays spent playing, chasing down the ice-cream van and wading in rivers for tadpoles.

Karlean Bourne
Front of House Manager

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Have I banged on about Call Me by Your Name on the GFT Blog enough yet? Yes? Well, tough, because here we go again! Long and lazy summer days, humid evenings and meals alfresco, billowy blue shirts and dancing in the streets of Italy, Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 languid summer romance Call Me by Your Name is not just an ode to ephemeral summer romances, it is also a love letter to the summer months. Complemented by an amazing soundtrack (I don’t even want to tell you how many times I have listened to Psychedelic Furs’ Love My Way), Call Me by Your Name has an irrepressible re-watchability to it, and with each viewing I enjoy it even more (and get that bit closer to booking a summer trip to Italy). 

Margaret Smith
Press and Marketing Coordinator

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Little Miss Sunshine is one of my all time favourite films – and soundtracks! Despite being quite dark and tragic in places, it's sweet and funny and I can't help but smile every time I watch it. The film is set around 7 year old Olive (Abigail Breslin), who is utterly committed to making it to the beauty pageant – with coaching from her slightly foul-mouthed grandpa (Alan Arkin). Olive unexpectedly makes the finals after someone drops out ("something about diet pills"), so the family take a round trip across the country to make it in time. The irony of the final scene where people are scandalised by Olive's dance moves (many of which I've practised myself), still makes me laugh out loud. The relationship between Olive and her grandfather is special, and their on screen chemistry is amazing to watch but I also loved her relationship with her brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) particularly following his mid-road trip melt down, which was brilliantly done. In the end, they let Olive be Olive and support her when she needs it most.   

Debbie Aitken
Festival Manager

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The summer school holidays of 1977 sticks in my mind as a major cinematic moment for me due to the experience of seeing the film which changed my opinion of cinema, Star Wars.

I went to see this in my local cinema, the Classic in Crosby, Liverpool (now run as the Plaza Community cinema – a 3-screen volunteer run venue). Normally, summers were times spent down on the beach or cycling around with my friends making the most of the school holidays and catching the occasional summer blockbuster. Having grown up around the time of the moon landings, sci-fi was something we devoured, from Dr Who to Blake’s 7 and many others. Star Wars not only changed my view of cinema and its ability to tell stories but also of how amazing film could be as a big screen shared experience. 

I remember taking my little brother along with me (I was 11 and he was 6) and we sat mesmerised in the cinema, glued into our seats and were transported into a magical world with such an incredible story, acting, music and special effects we had not seen the like of before. We forgot we were sitting in a cinema and ever since, this has been my benchmark of just how good film can be, when we forget the world outside and cannot shake off the memory of this for some time afterwards, if at all!

Angela Freeman
Senior Front of House Manager


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