May-December (In July)

July 11, 2008 | 15 books mentioned 3 2 min read

In 1699, at the age of 32, Jonathan Swift wrote a list of resolutions for himself that he titled “When I come to be old.” The first of these was, “Not to marry a young Woman.” Improbably, reading this Swiftian direction set me compiling a list of movies in which men and women disregard his advice. I can’t say it’s in any way particularly timely, or suited to the season – unless nothing says “summer” to you like a nymphet in a bikini and heart-shaped sunglasses or Dustin Hoffman in full diving gear at the bottom of a pool.

  • The Graduate
  • Manhattan – oh, beauty and the beast: Mariel Hemingway in bed with Woody Allen. A great movie, and a beautiful movie (even if you find WA occasionally repulsive).
  • Kubrick’s Lolita (1962)
  • Lolita (1997) The Kubrick Lolita goes in more for the “humor” of Nabokov’s novel – a lot of slap-stick-y scenes with Peter Sellars as Clare Quilty. I prefer the remake because it goes in more for the tragedy. Jeremy Irons walks the monstrous/charming line superbly and Dominique Swain is more convincing that Sue Lyon as Lolita.
  • Pretty BabyLouis Malle’s beautiful and creepy film about the daughter of a prostitute in a New Orleans whore house. A too young Brooke Shields, with Keith Carradine and Susan Sarandon.
  • The Professional – remember Natalie Portman singing “Like a Virgin” to a flabbergasted Jean Reno?
  • Beautiful Girls – Portman again, reprising her “old-soul” girl-woman vibe from The Professional opposite Timothy Hutton. (not that surprising that Portman was offered the Lolita role for 1997 remake)
  • Lawn Dogs – highly recommended: Young Sam Rockwell and very young Mischa Barton. The solace and dangers of friendship in a deeply creepy suburbia.
  • Harold and Maud – for the series of staged suicide scenes and Cat Stevens soundtrack alone, this is worth a watch, but there’s so much more…
  • Venus – The great Peter O’Toole playing, as far as I can tell, himself. And he is charming. Plus the enormously fat actor now of Harry Potter/Uncle Vernon fame (once of Withnail/Uncle Monty fame) as one of O’Toole’s pals (Richard Griffiths).
  • Last Tango In Paris – Really old Marlon Brando and really young French hottie: borderline porn – kinda gross (not recommended to the faint of heart, or really anyone at all)
  • ShopgirlSteve Martin, Clare Danes, Jason Schwartzman, and Pete Sampras’ babe wife
  • Lost in Translation – another former goofball (Bill Murray) makes good as a serious leading man opposite Scarlett Johansson
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien – not the rollicking good time the previews suggested it to be: brace yourself.
  • Notes on a ScandalJudy Dench and Cate Blanchett at their finest.
  • American Pie – the movie that brought us “milf”
  • The Good GirlJennifer Aniston playing a downtrodden housewife and Jake Gyllenhall (whose character renames himself Holden Caulfield) as her co-worker paramour at the Retail Rodeo.
  • Laurel CanyonFrancis McDormand and Alessandro Nivola are the May-December pair, ably supported by Kate Beckinsale, Christian Bale, and Natasha McElhone. A good movie for repressed graduate students.

is a staff writer for The Millions living in Virginia. She is a winner of the Virginia Quarterly's Young Reviewers Contest and has a doctorate from Stanford. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Times, In Character, VQR, Arts & Letters Daily, and The Daily Dish.


  1. And don't forget Blame it on Rio (1984), starring Sir Michael Caine. From the IMDB user comments: "There's something to great nudity! We just don't celebrate it enough anymore! Plus Demi Moore pre-implants!"

  2. And let's not forget Rushmore. A spring-summer-fall love triangle (and one of my favorite movies).

  3. of course! How could I forget your favorite movie, Ben.

    And Igby Goes Down–kieran culkin getting it on with claire danes and–I think I remember correctly–amanda peet (who plays May, rather than December, in the Jack Nicholson/Diane Keaton Something's Gotta Give).

Add Your Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.