The summer after you graduate from college can be tough. You're in an awkward transition phase and living at home isn't helping one bit. James Brennan, brilliantly played with just the right amount of awkwardness by Jesse Eisenberg, is stuck in his hometown for the summer and gets a job at an amusement park, which becomes an unexpectedly great decision. A warm and funny coming of age movie that will strike a chord with anyone post-21.
Another transition-focused coming of age film here but one that deals with the difficult yet exciting summer between school and college. It takes place over just one night and follows a group of teenagers through several vignettes, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and Harrison Ford. It's a sweetly nostalgic film that made a whopping $140 million from a $770,000 budget, making it one of the most profitable films ever made. It also helped to launch a certain George Lucas...
THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY
The idyllic locale of 50s Italy gains a menacingly dark cloud when sociopathic chancer Tom Ripley arrives to intrude on the lives of an already troubled American couple. Even as Ripley's schemes become increasingly nefarious, the weather and the beautiful locations remain stunning. Anthony Minghella's deeply involving Hitchcockian thriller is well worth a rewatch, especially if you're in need of holiday inspiration.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
After Scream kickstarted not only the horror genre but also the slasher subgenre, this film from screenwriter Kevin Williamson was fast-tracked and became a sleeper hit the following year. Based around a July 4th celebration that goes horribly wrong, we pick up events the following summer, something which is somewhat spoiled in the title, as the past comes back to haunt, and hack apart, a group of tanned youths. While it's not as smart as Scream, it's an enjoyably efficient horror film with a memorably nasty villain.
DON'T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER'S DEAD
Some slightly perverse wish-fulfillment here which we all watched as kids with a certain amount of jealousy. After a slightly selfish mother leaves for a two-month summer holiday to Australia, a group of understandably peeved kids find themselves under the rule of an elderly babysitter who then dies, leaving them to cover up her death in a seemingly comic but actually pretty sinister manner. Watching it again as an adult, you'll probably find it all rather disturbing.
A frank attempt to recreate a Spielbergian film of our youth, JJ Abrams' throwback blockbuster was a refreshingly simple and affecting adventure. Set around an alien presence crashing, quite literally, into a small town, it follows a group of friends who are simultaneously spending their summer making a film of their own. Abrams' loving effort to replicate some of Spielberg's magic pays off quite spectacularly.
No film has ever made us want to pack up our swim shorts and head to the airport quite as much as Danny Boyle's sun-drenched thriller The Beach. Set in Thailand, or more specifically, Maya bay in Ko Phi Phi Lee, it was probably responsible for about 65% of all Thai tourism post-2000. As well as some stunning cinematography, it also boasted a killer soundtrack, with Moby's Porcelain in particular being used at exactly the right time. You'll be googling plane tickets while you watch.
A rather alternative option here with Christopher Nolan's stunning thriller set against a backdrop of the Alaskan summer, where 24 hours of sunlight makes life a bit disorientating. It also makes it hard for Detective Will Dormer, beautifully underplayed by Al Pacino, who is finding sleep rather impossible. It's a morally murky film about a man finding his grip on reality and also what he considers to be right and wrong to be slipping, as he investigates the murder of a young woman. Arguably better than any of Nolan's blockbusters that followed.
The darker side of summer movies continues with this skin-crawling horror film that follows what happens to a small community when a flesh-eating parasite finds its way into the water supply on the Fourth of July. Shot as a mockumentary, it's a terrifyingly well-executed film that combines believably escalating panic with gruesome visuals. It's also based on a theory that's not too far away from fact which will help to make you think twice about, well, ever going near any form of water ever again. Maybe.
BLACK SNAKE MOAN
Despite the controversial marketing (a poster of Samuel L Jackson with a chained up Christina Ricci), this underrated offering from 2006 is much more then the exploitative b-movie it seems. Set in the Deep South, every frame is virtually dripping in sweat which helps to frame the story of a nymphomaniac and the retired blues guitarist who helps her to find redemption. Effortlessly cool, while being uncomfortably hot, but also surprisingly sweet, it offers an updated take on the classic Pygmalion set up.