BAMcinemaFest Review: ‘The Hottest August’ is an Expressive, Expansive Portrait of Summer in NYC

Where better than New York City to make a structuralist film? Cities are iterative, their street grids diagrams of theme and variation, and New York most of all—with its streets and avenues named for numbers and letters and states and cities and presidents and Revolutionary War generals spanning an archipelago, intersecting at a million little data points at which to measure class, race, culture, history, architecture and infrastructure. And time, too—from this human density emerge daily and seasonal rituals, a set of biorhythms, reliable as the earth’s, against which to mark gradual shifts and momentary fashions. Summer is for lounging on fire escapes, always, and, today, for Mister Softee. Yesterday it was shaved ice. Tomorrow, who knows?

In The Hottest August, Brett Story, the cultural geographer who made The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, attempts something a little like Akerman’s News from Home, schlepping a camera across
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