Steven Rea is the movie critic. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics, author of the books Hollywood Cafe: Coffee With the Stars and Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling With the Stars, and producer at ridesabike.com.
Movie theaters were invented, of course, as places to gather in a communal manner, to see and hear great spectacle, hilarious comedies, acrobatic action, tumultuous tragedy and remarkable tales of talking pets.
Said venues were also invented for days like these: when the temperature is Saharan, the sidewalks melting, the furnace-blast air wafting with stink. Movie theaters. Air conditioning. Escape. Ahhh.
So, here’s a list of five films that will take you away from the swelter and the smog, playing now at a theater near you. And if the idea of shlepping out anywhere doesn’t appeal, I’ve added a link to the Online Movie of the Week as well.
I Am Love -- Luca Guadagnino’s lush melodrama opens with a montage of Milan blanketed in snow. Snow! Remember that stuff? Tilda Swinton stars as a Russian married to an Italian textile magnate, with a trio of grown children and a villa to die for. And then one of her sons introduces her to a young chef, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), and her whole world becomes alive -- and adulterous, and tragic.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse -- The chaste yet torrid triangular love thing happening between Bella, Edward and Jacob reaches its summit (literally) during an awkward sleepover in a pup tent in the mountains. Fake snow is falling, and Kristen Stewart displays her thespian prowess by faking frozenness with a succession of shudders, shivers and sulks.
Cyrus -- No snow in this one, but Jonah Hill is chillingly funny as a 21-year-old weirdo trying to thwart the romance between his mom (Marisa Tomei) and the affable loser (John C. Reilly) she meets at a party. It’s set in L.A., where the weather is perfect.
Get Him to the Greek -- No snow in this one, either, but Jonah Hill is chillingly funny (again) as a record company underling assigned to make sure Russell Brand’s drug-addled rock star gets from London to Los Angeles in time for his gig. With pit stops in New York and Las Vegas, and laughs along the way.
Winter’s Bone -- It’s cold in them thar hills – the Missouri Ozarks to be exact – in this gripping adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s thriller about a 17-yearold girl (Jennifer Lawrence) looking for her missing dad, who’s messed up in nasty meth lab business.
And the Online Movie of the Week is “Elevated,” a trully creepy suspenser set in a high-rise’s elevator car. Vincenzo Natali, director of the bio-horror hit Splice, currently in theaters, is the perp.