On the Jersey Shore, there are generally two kinds of storms: the punishing ones that leave destruction in their wake, and the purifying ones that scour souls as well as beaches.
Movies about extreme weather are slightly more varied. On Sunday, after refrigerators were stocked with water, pantries with staples, and flashlights with D batteries, the e-mails started coming in to my inbox: Which movies paired best with a hurricane?
Well, exactly what kind of storm are we talking about?
There is extreme weather as a meteorological Judgment Day:
The Hurricane (1937): John Ford's ripsnorter about a Polynesian sailor (Jon Hall), unjustly imprisoned by racist French colonials and liberated by the storm that punishes his punishers. (I do not recommend Jan Troell's 1979 remake.)
Point Break (1991): Kathryn Bigelow's yarn about an FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) who lets a bank robber/extreme surfer (Patrick Swayze) choose between arrest or one last wave during a tsunami.
Hereafter (2010): Clint Eastwood's film about a tsunami survivor (Cécile de France) determined to find out why she survived when so many others did not.
There is hard rain as a symbol of moral baptism and rebirth:
The Shawshank Redemption (1994): Frank Darabont's film has a famous sequence involving Tim Robbins.
Rashomon (1950): Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece uses driving rain and the clearing afterward to suggest the moral confusion of a priest and woodcutter who have taken shelter from the storm and their moral actions after the rain stops.
There is rain as happy tears that bring divided lovers together:
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961): Blake Edwards' romance with Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and a cat named Cat in Manhattan.
Chasing Amy (1997): Kevin Smith's romance with Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams crying and hugging on a New Jersey thoroughfare.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994): Mike Newell's charmer with Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in the London rain and fog.
The Notebook (2004): Nick Cassavetes' tale starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the pair who reunite on a rain- and wind-swept beach in the Carolinas.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012): Wes Anderson's fable with Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as young lovers finding shelter from the storm during a hurricane in Maine.
And there are forces of nature that remind us that we must accept that which we cannot control:
Cast Away (2000): Robert Zemeckis' allegory starring Tom Hanks as a plane crash survivor who learns to respect, rather than fight, the elements.
Forces of Nature (1999): Bronwen Hughes' comedy with Ben Affleck as a groom on his way to his Georgia wedding to Maura Tierney, waylaid by both the weather and that life force Sandra Bullock.
I Know Where I'm Going! (1945): The Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger tale of a determined gold digger (Wendy Hiller) on her way to wed an industrialist in Scotland's Hebrides islands, waylaid by the weather and an islander (Roger Livesey).