I love summer. I know it feels like it isn't coming at all this year, but the Earth's orbit is inevitably bringing this hemisphere closer to the sun (which is often hidden behind clouds, but is still there!). The days are getting longer, the nights shorter. My tan is making a valiant attempt at a comeback.
More importantly, this is summer movie season.
There are a few big blockbusters I'm planning to see in the theatres, sure. I've already seen Thor (fun popcorn movie, as goofy and good-natured as its main character), and I'll probably see the new Pirates of the Caribbean sequel (the book it's very loosely based upon, On Stranger Tides, is my all-time favourite magic-and-pirates novel) and maybe Cowboys and Aliens.
But this is also the season when I like to sink back on the couch on a warm evening and pop a movie in the DVD player.
For the list of movies I might see this summer is rather short, and the movies I won't see is rather long. I'd rather be dragged across hot coals than watch Michael Bay direct a bunch of robots spewing horrible dialogue. Also, I understand there are Transformers in his new movie.
So let me share with you my short DVD list for the summer.
If the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie sinks like a leaky galleon, I can always rent a few good pirate movies. Like Captain Blood, one of Errol Flynn's first big roles.
This is a classic swashbuckler, with a big mid-movie duel between Flynn and Basil Rathbone.
As far as westerns go, there are plenty of big-sky adventures on the video store shelves. I tend to gravitate towards the ones where white hats and black hats aren't much in evidence.
Anyone who's seen the classic The Searchers remembers watching John Wayne's dogged pursuit of his kidnapped niece. The question of whether he'll kill her or rescue her lingers until the end of the movie.
Or, on the funny side, there's Destry Rides Again, one of Jimmy Stewart's early westerns. Stewart rides into a typically rough, brutal western town and takes over as sheriff, then proceeds to wander around without a gun, avoiding fights, and carving napkin rings. He spends most of the movie baffling the local thugs, rather than gunning them down.
Some of the best stories being told on film aren't coming from the movie theatres. They're coming from television.
You can have your big, Hollywood dramas with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. I'll take another season of Breaking Bad, thank you very much.
Breaking Bad is the story of a brilliant chemist who flailed his way through life until he found himself an underpaid high school teacher in New Mexico, working a second job washing cars to pay for his family's new late-in-life baby.
Then he gets the brilliant idea to solve his financial problems in one fell swoop: he'll just cook up some methamphetamine.
Things go about as badly as you might predict. Rather than allow Brian Cranston's main character to justify himself, the writers continually show that he's motivated not by his family's welfare, but by a twisted mixture of pride, stubbornness and anger. Over the first two seasons, he's gone from a misguided schlub to a ruthless kingpin in the making.
The third season of the show is out on DVD soon.
So between pirates, outlaws, and cowboys, I think I've got the dog days of summer just about licked.
w Matthew Claxton is a reporter with the Langley Advance.