Fluorescent lights and rooms with a view. Brutalist and commercial landscapes of American modernity. Edward Hopper and cinematographer Robby Müller both produce a kind of romance in their isolated portraits of individual subjects. Both alike in their treatment of distance, the viewer’s position becomes as striking as the composition of the bodies in view. Public spaces are seen as private and intimate, far removed from the viewer, that there is a kind of invasiveness in looking at them. Both Hopper and Müller seem to connect various moods of American mid to late twentieth-century culture through their depiction of empty space and fluorescent colour as isolating yet all-encompassing.
Cher recently tweeted ‘Was Wondering If We Should HANG ON 2 SUMMER & KEEP DANCING …OR ….SOB OUR WAY INTO FALL’. Below is an unranked list of novels and films that feel inspired by warmth and melancholy to mediate the transition from summer into autumn.
1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
‘I want Momma to take aerobics classes. I want Ellen to grow up. I want a new brain for Arnie.’ Peter Hedges’ screenplay showcases Leonardo Dicaprio’s most underrated performance in this family drama.
2. East of Eden (1952), a novel by John Steinbeck
An epic. A descriptive journey into the complex lives of two families set in California.
3. Ask The Dust (1939), a novel by John Fante
‘You pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand‘. John Fante’s 1939 masterpiece enlivens a very real sombre summer mood. It takes place in the desert landscape of Los Angeles and brings to life a sense of cultural pessimism of heat and warmth and paradise.
4. 20th Century Women (2016)
A study into the lives of women who basically live under one roof, all, in their own way, attempt to raise teenage boy Jamie. Set in 1979, it speaks to contemporary and modern issues of feminism and love and freedom.
5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Toni Collete is always incredible. The score seems to speak to the dysfunctional, dark and beautiful lives of the Hoover family as they journey to California for the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.
6. Norwegian Wood (1987), a novel by Haruki Murakami
Murakami is warm and captivating. This sad adolescent story of love and friendship and emptiness is moving and dreamlike.
7. Paris, Texas (1984)
Cinematographer Robby Müller’s fluorescent colours and light transform Wim Wenders’ gripping road movie into something genius.