Every year summer in Miami brings to mind a few things: thighs searing on boiling car seats, steamy daily afternoon rain dousings, nostril-burning 90-degree temperatures, the looming threat of the latest hurricane, and, of course, no relief until at least mid-November.
Sad sacks unable to escape the horror that is the great outdoors during our city's especially mean season can retreat indoors to the hospitable air-conditioned confines of the Wolfsonian-FIU and its Hot Movies/Cool Cities series. Beginning this week uncommon films will be shown the second Thursday of each month through July. Each flick, set in or focused on a different cosmopolitan international city, takes viewers on a virtual journey around the world. This Thursday the tour begins with over-the-top auteur Federico Fellini's 1972 Roma, a satirical love letter to the Eternal City, combining, in the director's inimitable impressionistic way, an exploration of its residents with elements from his own life.
Next month viewers return to the United States and find a major East Coast metropolis following the beat of a different drum. A bongo drum, namely. Director Betsy Blankenbaker's recent documentary, New York in the Fifties, presents the city during a vibrant moment in its history when radical politics, new music and art, free love, and psychoanalysis hung in the air. Beatniks, literatos, and politicos are chronicled in the past and interviewed in the present. Author Dan Wakefield, who lived in the Big Apple during those times and documented his experiences in a book by the same title, now lives here and works as an FIU writing professor. Wakefield, who has taken much ribbing in these pages for his new-age leanings, will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions afterward.
Frustrated Euros head back across the Atlantic to France for the final screening in July. A half-dozen short films make up the 1965 anthology Six in Paris, which showcases segments written and directed by landmark French New Wave moviemakers such as Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer; a stellar cast including Stephane Audran (the former Mrs. Chabrol) and Barbet Schroeder (who also produced the film and is now known as a director); and marvelous cinematography by masters like Nestor Almendros and Albert Maysles. Shot primarily with hand-held cameras (expect that jittery effect), each story is set in a distinct Parisian district and delves into those often inscrutable topics that everyone can relate to: psychological and sexual relationships. Something the chic nonchalant Parisians seem to handle with the utmost cool. Wonder if they'd fare quite as well during a stultifying Miami summer?