“Summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage,” sang Regina Spektor over a decade ago on her aptly titled tune “Summer in the City”, which may sound at first like a cheery celebration of the warmer months but is actually a mournful lament told from the point of view of a sad pervert. The song also leaves out key details that define spending summer in a concrete jungle, such as the overwhelming feeling of dread that permeates every waking moment you spend outside and not in a swimming pool (or, at the very least, a pelopincho).
You feel it too, don’t you? The sweltering, suffocating heat of the streets. The humidity causing you to feel like you’re melting just minutes after leaving your house. The utter thrill of descending into the Subte and being hit in the face with a tidal wave of body odor. The scent of sweat and soot. That feeling of being trapped in some state of decay, unable to complete the journey into complete rottenness but feeling like garbage all the same. Are we being a tad dramatic? Maybe. But listen, unless we’re lounging luxuriously by a swimming pool or enjoying a good asado, we’re perfectly comfortable confessing that we’re not big fans of sub-tropical weather in this maze of concrete and asphalt.
Here’s what we are fans of: staying indoors, where it’s nice and chilly (if you’re lucky enough to own an A/C), and watching quality content. Films! TV shows! Streamable stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into either category! Whatever we can do to stay away from the heat. Because seriously, who needs the sticky, sweaty summer anyway? Here are a few summer-themed (or summer-adjacent) film picks for you to watch while you wait for the temperature to drop just a tiny bit.
Martín Piroyansky’s Voley may be a bit of a self-aggrandizing fantasy (wherein the director casts himself as a dude who simply cannot stop getting laid), but guess what? It’s also a ton of fun. This raunchy, somewhat whimsical comedy follows a group of friends who go on a trip to Tigre, a familiar scenario for those of us who go to great lengths to escape the city heat. They do drugs, they have sex, they reinforce patriarchal gender roles, they do everything that young people do (except wear condoms, apparently?), but it’s a solid 90 minutes of entertainment. The utter ridiculousness of the script (as well as Piroyansky’s wit) make it well worth watching.
Here we have another movie about a group of friends who escape the city to be near bodies of water, but this one has a bit of a twist: this wistful little comedy, much in the vein of earlier, less over-the-top ornate Wes Anderson, features a pair of friends who go on a road trip to Miramar in the dead of winter, each one for equally melancholy reasons. Along the way they make new friends, get into wacky misadventures, and go on cathartic rants about soda. This movie from 2008 is an underrated gem, and you can find it currently streaming on Cine AR Play.
Wet Hot American Summer
Who doesn’t love Wet Hot American Summer? The film, created by the same team who brought us TV’s The State and deliberately featured a group of miscast actors in their late 20s playing 16-year-olds, was a massive flop upon release; in subsequent years it developed a cult following, only bolstered by the fact that so many members of the cast went on to become massive megastars. Are there camps like this in Argentina? I don’t know. If there were, is it too late for us to go? Probably! This genuinely bonkers film spawned a prequel and a sequel series, and all of them are available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix, Home of All That is Good and Just.
Todo Sobre El Asado
We mentioned earlier that one of the few outdoor activities we are willing to engage in during the ridiculously hot porteño summer is sitting outside with friends and sharing a nice asado. This is not exactly a bold sentiment. In fact, ask around and I think you’ll find that most people you interact with on a day-to-day basis in this country are huge fans of asado, a practice which is so deeply embedded in Argentine culture that it’s hard to imagine the summer months without it. Of course, it’s entirely possible that you’re vegan or vegetarian – if so, hey, more power to you, and you won’t get any judgment from us. But for those of us who have made ourselves numb to the cruelty and massive environmental damage inherent to the beef industry, this fascinating documentary about the practice (and cut of beef!) is more than worth watching, serving as a reasonable facsimile of the real thing.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
Schadenfreude. The Germans, gotta love ‘em, came up with this fantastic term to describe taking joy in other people’s misfortunes. It’s a petty, inherently mean-spirited impulse, but one that is part of all of us. The schadenfreude is amped up to absurd levels when misfortune falls upon a group of phony swindlers, and a group of too eagerly-swindled rich people. 2017’s Fyre festival was an incredible train wreck of epic proportions – as you may have heard on the news, a gaggle of wannabe influencers with massive amounts of cash to burn made their way to what was supposed to be a premium, deluxe, thoroughly Instagrammable music festival experience in the Bahamas, but turned out to be an undercooked disaster. Netflix’s film – though produced by some of the same people responsible for marketing the messy event – is an engrossing, fascinating, visually stunning document of the entire ordeal, and the are few things as satisfying as watching it all fall apart from the comfort of your living room.
Hey, here’s our second film in the list featuring a getaway to the Nordelta. Finding Sofía is an obscure little gem from a couple of years ago about an American man who falls in love with one of his online haters (who happens to be Argentine). Things go a bit awry when he shows up at her place unannounced and finds out she has a boyfriend. What follows is a combination of a wires-crossed, fish-out-of-water story, a romantic comedy, and a heartfelt drama. Director Nico Casavecchia incorporates elements of animation and unconventional storytelling to craft a film that’s funny, sweet, subversive, and often heartbreaking. The film debuted in Argentina at the 2015 BAFICI, and can be streamed through iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Google Play. Find all the information here.
Historia del Miedo
So far, the films we have featured on this list have been pretty lighthearted and breezy. But that’s not all that summer can be. Summer can be dark, claustrophobic, daunting, suffocating, confusing, frustrating. And all these emotions are well presented in director Benjamin Naishtat’s stunning Historia del Miedo, where the summer isn’t a time for fun and revelry, but instead an unforgiving plague that results in power outages and anxiety. This is a strange, expressionistic film, and the experience will leave you feeling more uncomfortable than refreshed. The feel-good film of the summer! Stream it through Cine AR Play.
Yeah, look, OK, let’s get this out of the way first. Spring Breakers doesn’t technically take place during the summer. It is, after all, called “Spring” Breakers. The word “spring” is right there in the title. However, what is more summery than this decadent combination of drugs, swimming pools, bikinis, handguns, and grand theft auto? Pretty much nothing! Harmony Korine’s psychedelic paean to the young and the hungry has been called everything from exploitative trash to the greatest American film of the 21st century; I suspect the truth is somewhere in between, but this film is an assault to the senses that must be seen to be believed, containing several scenes that achieve transcendental status. And that’s what summer is all about.
Verano del 98
We cap off our list with Verano del 98, a show that would’ve easily fit in our list of so-bad-they’re-good guilty pleasures. What is Verano del 98? Well, think of it as the Argentine equivalent to Dawson’s Creek. It’s a telenovela from the mind of the ever-dependable Cris Morena, following the exploits of a large group of friends over three seasons (a total of almost 700 episodes) while never changing its name to reflect the passage of time, effectively making 1998 last forever. And doesn’t that sound like paradise? Look, this show isn’t good. We’re not going to sugarcoat it. But it’s an interesting curio, and something worth indulging in for a brief time, if only to get a taste of what youth culture was like in late-90s Argentina. And wouldn’t you know it, it is available online. Go check it out, and we’re sorry.