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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

quick list: five cold-weather movies that feel great in an NYC August

It’s so disgusting today in New York City that it made me actually cry in frustration. After a few days’ respite from what the TV weather people call “the three H’s” — hazy, hot, and humid — today it was back to air so thick and still that walking down the street is more like swimming than it is like walking. But just thinking about a handful of films makes me feel a little better. Because baby, it’s cold in these movies:
It’s not Frances McDormand’s pregnant cop bent over barfing into the Midwestern snow that is, for me, the iconic winter moment of this film. It’s the bit in which, after a silent breakfast with her husband, she trudges out into the predawn darkness and, seconds later, has to shout back a request for him to come on outside into frigid cold to give her patrol car’s frozen battery a jump. It sounds so cheerfully routine, as if this happens every day. It probably does.

The Empire Strikes Back
It is colder than space freighter full of Gundarks, or something, on Hoth. Which means really, really cold. Know what’s really funny? The 4/5 subway platforms at the 59th Street station smell as bad in high summer as the innards of a recently lightsabred Tauntaun.

March of the Penguins
Tuxedo-clad flightless birds huddle together for collective warmth and to keep their individual precious eggs viable over the long dark Antarctic winter. Sounds wonderful.

Groundhog Day
It’s so cold in Punxsutawney that time freezes.

The Shining
Why are they holed up in the hotel? It’s so lovely and snowy and cold outside…

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  • MC

    How about The Thing? Antartica… granted the flamethrowers heat things up.

  • RyanT

    I remember watching March of the Penguins during the dead of summer once. It. Was. Awesome.

  • Bill

    was it The Chronicles of Riddick that started out with a guy being chased across an ice planet with all kinds of chasms and what not? i’m not sure what movie it was, but that image is what came to mind when i though ‘cold movie’. but The Thing is a winner, too.

  • MaryAnn

    My list is not mean to be exclusive, not by a long shot. :->

  • Ide Cyan

    Bill: yep. Although later on Riddick & co end up on Crematoria, where the days are hot enough to disintegrate you where you stand.

  • Dokeo

    @ Fargo

    As someone who grew up in Minnesota (which is right next to Fargo) I can tell you that it does happen every day – at least during a cold snap. That’s part of the reason I live in DC now. It may get disgustingly hot, but at least the water on my eyeballs never freezes over!

  • Bill

    “…where the days are hot enough to disintegrate you where you stand.” — hmmm…i dont remember that at all. i swear that one cold ass scene is all i remember from that movie.

    ‘A Christmas Carol’ with alastair sim is good way to cool off. gotta do it in black and white, tho. much colder in black and white.

  • mortadella

    Those are great choices. In my case, I’m thinking of “Smilla’s Sense of Snow,” and “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.”

  • Ide Cyan

    Atanarjuat: run naked and barefoot on ice! Build an igloo and invite everybody over!

  • Mark

    Snow Falling on Cedars, which I know got a somewhat sniffy critical reception, but which I like all the same. It certainly delivers on its promise: a lot of snow, and a lot of cedars.

  • Monica

    If you want to survive a prolonged heat wave, there’s always “Dr. Zhivago!” Nothing like a beautiful Siberian ice palace to get you through 90 degrees and 100% humidity.

  • markyd

    Before seeing anyone’s responses the first movie to pop in my head was Empire Strikes Back.
    Second was The Thing.
    Glad to see like-minded folks around here.
    Yeah, I remember Crematoria from Riddick. Wasn’t that at the end of the movie? It’s been awhile. Plus, it wasn’t a good movie anyway.
    I think Christmas/holiday movies don’t count. They’re too easy.

  • To Die For has the best ice skating scene ever. Imelda Douglas may never appear in a remake of Ice Castles or The Cutting Edge but she’ll always be one of the most memorable movie skaters in my book.

    As for Fargo, those endless scenes with the ice scraper seemed way too evocative of certain northern winters for my taste.

    And while I’m commenting on previous entries, let’s not forget TESB‘s homage to Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” perhaps the ultimate entry in the “baby, it’s cold outside” literary genre…They never made a movie out of it but I suspect the scene in George Lucas movie is as close as Hollywood will ever get to it anyway.

  • MC

    Now I am thinking about The Long Kiss Goodnight. Winter movie with the aforementioned ice skating, someone getting repeatedly dunked in ice cold water for prolonged periods and someone getting locked in a deep freezer.

  • JoshDM

    First five related to topic, in order of coming-to-mind:

    The Thing
    Ice Age
    Day After Tomorrow
    Empire Strikes Back

    Not that I’d suggest watching that next-to-last one, ever. Inspired by the movie poster.

  • Kate

    Lars & the Real Girl.
    Mystery, Alaska.

    Of course, I’m in San Francisco where at 2pm the sun hasn’t yet made an appearance, and I’m wearing cords and a sweater. Personally, I need to go watch something sundrenched like Shirley Valentine or The Big Blue!

  • bats :[

    I’m showing my age here, but for someone growing up in Phoenix, a classic summer movie was “Ice Station Zebra.”

  • Dre in Spain

    My housemate and I did the same thing during a particuarly hot and humid evening here in Spain. We downloaded the “Top Gear Polar Special”, where they have a competition to get to the magnetic north pole either with a modified truck or a team of huskies. Watching them wake up with a mound of frozen ice covering their sleeping bag made us slightly cooler. Highly recommended, and this is from someone who doesn’t drive and has no interest in cars!

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