DVD of the Week – Sampling the Sunshine State in Cinema

by HELEN GEIB

The local forecast for Thursday is an unseasonable 60 degrees, ironic since that’s the day I leave for a long weekend in Florida. While the temperature in Sarasota may not have anything on home, I’ll be soaking up the humidity and, with luck, some of that famous sunshine. To put myself even more in the mood, I’ve chosen a few Florida-set movies to spotlight in this week’s DVD post.

Sunshine State (2002)

The title demands the lead-off slot. Set in a northern beachfront town, Sunshine State is one of indie filmmaker John Sayles’ community cross-section dramas, and has the strong sense of place characteristic of his work. The ensemble cast includes Angela Bassett, Mary Steenburgen, Edie Falco, Timothy Hutton, Mary Alice, and Alex Lewis.

Miami Vice (2006)

Michael Mann’s re-imagining of his iconic ’80s TV show is an art film masquerading as a blockbuster. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx star as the new Crockett and Tubbs, and Miami stars as itself.

The Perez Family (1995)

Mann’s digital photography renders a sun-bleached cityscape blurred by heat haze. Miami in The Perez Family is a sensual city in vibrant color. Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei are Cuban refugees from the 1980 Mariel boatlift who, with two others who share their common surname of Perez, pretend to be a family to jump the line for re-settlement housing. Angelica Huston is the wife Molina’s political prisoner has been separated from for 20 years and Chazz Palminteri her diffident suitor.

Heartbreakers (2001)

Heartbreakers is a lively comedy set in and around Palm Beach. Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt are the titular conwomen, a mother-daughter pair specializing in quickie marriages and quicker divorces, but it’s the marks who steal the movie: Ray Liotta as a crooked, heartbroken New Jersey auto-dealer; Gene Hackman as a positively appalling tobacco tycoon; and Jason Lee as the sweetnatured owner of a beachfront bar that contributes a glimpse of the old Florida.

New releases this week: Unstoppable, Waiting for Superman, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

5 responses to “DVD of the Week – Sampling the Sunshine State in Cinema

  1. Have fun down there! Back in Indy, I’ll add “Sunshine State” to my Netflix queue. The cold will be returning here soon enough, and maybe it will work as an antidote.

  2. Good choices all around and not a hurricane among them. I liked Sunshine State but The Perez Family is my favorite in this group. It’s unexpected and very satisfying. And I’m glad to be reminded of The Heartbreakers, one that I thought was quite funny but hadn’t thought of again – I’ll watch it again just to enjoy Liotta’s character. An obscure one for your Florida list is one I think is titled Long Gone, something a bit different in a minor league baseball story. It was possibly an early HBO movie and one I think of at this time of year (Spring Training time for non-baseball fans) and would like to see again.

    • I remember “Long Gone” fondly too. I looked it up to check the details: it was an HBO movie, released in 1987, starring William Peterson as the manager. Here’s the imdb page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093433/

      I believe you have inspired me to compile a list of baseball movies for a future DVD of the week post. The start of the season sounds like a good enough reason. :D

  3. A few other films that were done in the Sunshine state , but were not mentioned was the 1981 comedy ‘Honky Tonk Freeway’. This was about the fictional town of Ticlaw, Florida whose citizens become upset when an exit ramp is not placed for their town on the new highway that is being built, so they blow up the overpass and force everyone to get off anyways. The film’s tagline was ‘Honky Tonk Freeway — Get-off on it’, which was probably the best thing about the movie. There was also the American version of ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ called ‘The Birdcage’ starring Robin Williams and Gene Hackman that took place in Miami. ‘Blood and Wine’ is another good Florida movie. It starred Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine and took place more in the Florida countryside and smalltowns, which was nice as mostly Florida movies are done in the cities, or at the beaches.

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