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Is It Getting “Hot” in Here…Or Is It Not?

July 20, 2012

Looking to escape the summer heatwave—or the long lines to see The Dark Knight Rises (even in the aftermath of last night’s tragic shooting)? You could stay in the A/C and watch a pair of ostensibly steamy movies that are currently available on VOD and in limited theatrical release: A Burning Hot Summer and 30 Beats. Sadly, both are the cinematic equivalent of cold showers.

From Body Heat to Do the Right Thing, heatwaves have provided the backdrop for any number of classic films. But frankly, I’m not sure why the French import A Burning Hot Summer bears that title, since it takes place over more than a year and never focuses much on the weather. A Boring Hot Summer is more like it. Sure, two minutes into the movie, Italian sexpot Monica Bellucci (Málena, the Matrix sequels) sprawls nude on a floor for 30 seconds, but nothing happens. And that pretty much describes the rest of the film, too.

Bellucci plays a movie star whose painter husband (Louis Garrel, son of cowriter-director Phillippe Garrel) attempts suicide in one of the opening scenes. We then flash back to see what drove him to that desperate act—namely, his wife’s on-set infidelity, although he, too, cheated, but only with whores; in Europe, this apparently doesn’t count. Through most of the movie, the artist mopes, while his friend (who narrates the story) navigates his way through his own turbulent relationship.

The most interesting aspect of A Burning Hot Summer is its simmering soundtrack, by Velvet Underground vet John Cale, and the same holds true for 30 Beats, which was largely scored by True Blood/Treme veteran C.C. Adcock. It’s the umpteenth film inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s turn-of-the-20th-century play La Ronde (others include the 1964 Roger Vadim/Jane Fonda collaboration Circle of Love and the recent VOD release 360). The concept of an unbroken chain of lovers ultimately coming full circle is transplanted to New York City on, yes, the hottest day of the summer—although the film’s setting, 2009, gives you an idea how long it’s been cooling on the shelf.

The only notable cast members are Weeds‘ Justin Kirk and a pair of actresses known for playing ditzes—Bullets Over Broadway‘s Jennifer Tilly and Boardwalk Empire‘s Paz de la Huerta. Writer-director Alexis Lloyd may fashion himself a cinematic artiste, but he’s less Cocteau than cock-tease; he keeps cutting away right before proverbial boots start knocking. The end result feels like a porno flick with all the good parts edited out; what’s left is just bad dialogue and amateurish acting. And again, I’m not sure what the title means… unless it’s referring to the rate your heart will slow down to while you’re watching this flaccid little film.

What’s getting you hot and bothered at the movies this summer? Post a comment!

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2 Comments
  1. cineroulade permalink

    Nice post! Monica Bellucci still gets me hot & bothered 😉

    • bruceafretts permalink

      She still looks good–but it’s not enough to make this movie watchable.

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