What "Summer" Means to Me - Rooftop Cinema Club

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What “Summer” Means to Me

SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS is our new monthly commentary brought to you by Billy Ray Brewton, our Head of Programming, to (hopefully) give you a glimpse into why we screen the movies we do. This is our cinematic voice and we wanna blast it out to the masses! This month, Billy Ray shares his inspiration for our July lineup.

Summer in the South was always a little magical.

The moment school let out, everything changed. Your days became your own, and you could do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted to do it, provided you had really cool parents and a way to get from here to there. Luckily, for me, my parents were cool and that “way” was everything from my bicycle to my feet to the little fishing boat we’d occasionally take down the wide, deep creek that ran back behind the house. But – if the days were about adventure, the nights tended to be about one thing: MOVIES.

My place had a bit of a reputation as a place you could go to watch whatever you wanted to watch. This usually meant films that would normally make smoke come out of parents’ ears, films kids shouldn’t be watching, but films my parents let me curate for my friends and myself. One night it might be something pretty tame like The Sandlot or American Graffiti. The next night it might be something a bit more risquee like The Evil Dead or Body Heat. I never told my friends what we’d be watching – it was always a surprise, and usually welcomed. And, if they were lucky, and my mom felt frisky, there might be some banana pudding involved too.

The Sandlot

These days, when people think of “summer movies,” they think of Marvel movies and blockbusters – enormous films with enormous budgets that don’t really have to have anything to do with summer. When I think of summer, I think of scorching hot days, picnics, barbeques, baseball, the beach, backyard adventures and monsters in the closet. At some point, summer movies started becoming more about action, and less about adventure. A film like Jaws would never dominate a summer movie season like it did back in 1975. A killer great white shark is evidently no match for Transformers, superheroes, or an infinite amount of sequels. 

I know, I know – I sound like an old man pining about “the good old days.” And maybe I am. My back does ache every time it rains. But that nostalgia is baked into our national fiber, and we grow up relating so much to the way things were. In my heart, I like to imagine kids these days still do sort of the same thing. I picture a bunch of kids gathered around a big screen TV, each taking turns on choosing something off Netflix or Hulu, turning off the lights, and pigging out on Doritos and Mountain Dew, sometimes with their parents’ approval, and sometimes without. Sure, it’s not a requirement for appreciating movies, or summer movies, but I feel as if it goes a long way to helping kids open their imaginations as far as they can go. 

Dirty Dancing

Programming movies for Rooftop this summer has given me the chance to relive my childhood summers across our screens in every way possible. I mean – how many movies really feel as much like summer as Dirty Dancing or The Sandlot? How many movies about the beach make you feel like you’re at the beach as much as Jaws? How many movies in 2019 can take place at a summer camp and make you really feel like you’re at a summer camp? It’s all about that feeling. And being on a rooftop with a canopy full of stars above you – that’s just about as close as you can get to “that feeling” without washing the sand off your feet.

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