The M.V. Film Society’s outdoors film series plays on Wednesdays in July and August at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs. Now in its second year, the series was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Even though the Film Center is now open, the film series still brings films for viewing under the stars. Providing a 40-foot screen, the series offers the audience a chance to picnic on the grass at Featherstone.
The series features a set of seven summer-themed films on Wednesdays beginning between 8:30 and 8:45 pm. It includes 1973’s blockbuster “American Graffiti” (already shown on Wednesday, July 7),“The Inkwell,” “Best Summer Ever,” “Summertime,” “A Life of Endless Summers,” “What About Bob?” and “Rear Window.” Wednesday, August 18, is reserved as a rain date.
Playing on July 14, “The Inkwell” is a 1994 romantic comedy about the misadventures of 16-year-old Drew Taylor (Larenz Tate) during the summer of 1976. His parents, Kenny (Joe Morton) and Brenda (Suzzanne Douglass) worry about him on the family’s visit with wealthy relatives on Martha’s Vineyard. Their concern is because of his attachment to a doll he calls Iago, after the character from Shakespeare’s “Othello.” They worry even more when Drew manages to set fire to the garage by mistake.
Drew spends time at the Inkwell, the popular beach enjoyed by the Black community. The parents develop their own problems, but Drew pursues a romance, which leads to a surprising conclusion.
‘The Best Summer Ever’
This charming, not-to-be-missed musical, playing July 21, features a cast of actors with different abilities without calling attention to their status. The film opens at a Vermont summer dance camp, where Tony Michaels (Rickey Alexander Wilson, one of the few nondisabled actors) has fallen for wheelchair-bound Sage (Shannon DeVido). With the summer coming to an end, the two hope to meet again the following year, but the surprise is that they both end up at the same high school.
Enter cheerleader Beth (MuMu), who tries to steal football star Tony from Sage. One misadventure after another initially keeps them apart. The challenge is for this football team to end 25 years of defeat. Invited to attend are the Jabberwocky summer campers, as well as the film’s executive producers, Vineyard summer residents Ila and Peter Halby.
This comedy-drama, playing July 28, is directed with imagination by Carlos Lopez Estrada. It follows 25 high school students as they voice their poetry on a July day throughout Los Angeles. The film is structured as an anthology of young poets expressing themselves in separate vignettes. Because they appear in each other’s stories, the vignettes fit together.
First is Mila Cuda, who announces her sexual orientation on a bus. Another vignette features Tyris Winter complaining about his lack of a hamburger. Especially powerful is the piece in which Marquesha reads from her therapist’s how-to manual, “How to Rap-Battle Your Demons,” and shares it with another young woman. Not to be forgotten is an episode in a fast-food counter where an order of 60 hamburgers almost overwhelms the server. And finally, a group of the film’s poets take a ride in a stretch limousine and watch the city’s skyline from its roof. A group of Vineyard poets will recite from their work at this showing.
‘A Life of Endless Summers’
Playing August 4, this documentary follows the life and career of Bruce Brown, considered to be one of the most influential surfers of all time. Written and directed by his son Dana Brown, the film depicts the surfers who provided the foundation for the sport in the 1960s. Brown Sr. became a filmmaker, chronicling surfing and the lifestyle that goes with it.
Brown Sr. went on to make films about motorcycle racing, including “Any Sunday,” which was nominated for the 1972 Best Documentary Oscar. Actor Steve McQueen appears in “Any Sunday.” The film examines the personalities that go with different forms of racing, such as motocross or desert racing.
‘What About Bob?’
Starring Richard Dreyfuss as Dr. Leo Marvin and Bill Murray as Bob, this 1991 comedy, directed by Frank Oz, will play on August 11. It follows the antics of a psychotherapist on summer vacation with his family. When his patient, Bob, follows him to Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., an enraged Leo goes over the edge.
Bob makes friends with Leo’s children, much to their father’s dismay. Eventually Leo leads Bob into the woods at gunpoint, and ties him up with explosives that have an unexpected result.
Playing on August 25 and concluding the series, this classic 1952 Hitchcock thriller is set in New York during a summer heatwave. It features wheelchair-bound photographer Jeff Jefferies, played by Jimmy Stewart, his nurse Stella, played by Thelma Ritter, and his girlfriend Lisa Carol Fremont, played by Grace Kelly.
Jefferies distracts himself by spying on his neighbors, one of whom he suspects of murdering his wife. Recovering from a broken leg, Jefferies enlists the help of Stella and Lisa. But the neighbor, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), becomes aware of Jefferie’s suspicions and begins to stalk him. Critics call “Rear Window” Hitchcock’s best film, and it received four Oscar nominations.
Outdoor space for the series is limited to provide for social distancing. There is a maximum of eight people per group, with seating circles painted on the lawn. Summercamp Hotel, Edgartown Hotel, and Town Bar and Grill, as well as Featherstone Center for the Arts, provided support for the series.
Information and tickets for the outdoor film series are available at mvfilmsociety.com. Only vehicles with tickets will be allowed to enter.