Winter Watchlist: On Location
With darkness descending by 4 p.m., it’s time to hole up to write the Great American Novel, knit the Great American Sweater, or, um, secretly watch a ton of TV and movies with a “Hamptons” theme. Here are our picks that are either timeless, essential watching, or just so hysterically, obnoxious that we can’t look away.
Girls (2012; “Beach House,” Season 3, Episode 7) Lena Dunham and her Brooklyn crew go to greenport for the weekend. Listen for a line from Marnie, played by Allison Williams (daughter of newscaster Brian Williams): “This is the North Fork, it’s very different from the Hamptons. It’s, you know, for people who think the Hamptons are tacky and don’t want to be on a beach that’s near a J. Crew.” HBO
The Affair (2014– ) Noah and Allison begin a torrid summer love affair. Noah’s a New York City writer with a rich wife, who crashes at his in-laws’ fancy mansion; Allison is a struggling waitress who is married, too — into the family that owns a certain famous ranch in Montauk. They meet at the Lobster Roll on Napeague, where Allison slings steamed clams. Tune in for deception, murder, and blistering class tension. . . . It’s actually good. SHOWTIME
Revenge (2011–2015) This chilling, slightly campy suspense series takes place almost exclusively on the East End, though you will notice that it was obviously shot elsewhere. Set in that clubby, WASP world behind the privet, it feels like it’s supposed to be Southampton, probably — but you decide. Young Emily Thorne finds her way out east to take revenge on the family, headed by a matriarch played by Madeleine Stowe, who may have murdered her father. ABC
Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995) More authentic in location is this atmospheric, offbeat comedy from Henry Jaglom, starring Viveca Lindfors as another Hamptons matriarch, this one of a self-obsessed theatrical clan which gathers for the last time before she sells the old family homestead. Real estate, long disputatious suppers on lovely green lawns, Chekhovian complications — it strikes a mood that will make you long for August (or, at least, the August of decades past). Available on Amazon.
Grey Gardens (1975) Have you really not seen it yet? Albert and David Maysles’s documentary about Big and Little Edie Beale — the reclusive aunt and cousin of Jackie kennedy — has a cult following for good reason. The Bealeses lived in an old, shingled house near georgica Beach, on West End Road, that by the 1970s was getting so dilapidated that Suffolk County was intervening and their state of affairs was making news in The East Hampton Star. The eccentric, grand mother-and-daughter duo are mesmerizing, living among their delusions and their dreams.
Seinfeld (1989–1998; “The Hamptons,” Season 5, Episode 20) This episode of the hilarious “show about nothing” chronicles a weekend of lobster-poaching, tomato-throwing, and, as ever, talking, talking, talking amongst friends. It includes george’s famous line, “I was in the pool!” You’ll start here and, as with Doritos and popcorn, just keep snacking on one of the best comedies ever. NBC and SONY Pictures TV
Sweet Liberty (1986) This charmingly funny film, shot in Sag Harbor, brought the little village to a standstill when it was being made back in the 1980s. Which is kind of funny, because it tells the story of a little village that comes to a standstill during the making of a movie. It stars Alan Alda as a college professor whose book about the American Revolution is getting the full Hollywood treatment, alongside Michael Caine and Michelle Pfeiffer. Main Street was rented by the production company for a night of filming, with the principals walking along it after an evening of revelry. Revolutionary War battle scenes were shot on the grounds of a former religious retreat in Noyac. There’s happy ridicule and ridiculous outrage, and, eventually, love.
Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons (2014– ) Oof! Another show about nothing, this one less like popcorn and Doritos and more like a parking lot fender bender between a Bentley and a Lamborghini: How can you not watch? An offshoot of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, it focuses on sisters kourtney and khloe, who open a boutique in Southampton called Dash. kourtney’s boyfriend, Scott Disick (a Ross School alumnus), tags along. The E! Network
Something’s Gotta Give (2003) Jack Nicholson plays an aging womanizer who finds himself at his very young girlfriend’s beach house in Southampton. He has a heart attack and is forced to stay at the house with the girlfriend’s mother, played by Diane keaton, while he recovers. Nicholson and keaton are at their best. It’s great. It ends in Paris. Everyone should see this.
Pollock (2000) Another must-see. Ed Harris and Marcia gay Harden won Academy Awards for their roles as Jackson Pollock and Lee krasner in this biopic. The film focuses heavily on the great artist’s time here in the 1940s and 1950s, and is shot on location at the Pollock-krasner House in Springs, now a national historic landmark.
Annie Hall (1976) Regardless of what you think about Woody Allen as a person, this is a masterpiece. Check it out again. Annie and Alvy drive out to Amagansett, to a house at Promised Land, on gardiner’s Bay, where they struggle to put rebellious lobsters in a pot.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Set partly in the snow and ice of a South Fork winter, this critically acclaimed film with an amazing cast — kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, Mark Ruffalo, kirsten Dunst — is a dreamy take on love, loss, memory, and destiny. “Meet me in Montauk” is the film’s pivotal phrase that stirs just enough memory to rekindle a love affair. Are you thinking: huh? Well, watch the movie.