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Beat the summer heat with the Quad's series 'Cool Movies'

Chill out with snow-capped movies like 'The Shining,' 'Doctor Zhivago' and 'Cliffhanger.'
The Shining
Jack Nicholson does not beat the heat in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." Credit: Getty Images

‘Cool Movies’
July 7 through July 13
The Quad, 34 W. 13th St.

Do NYC movie ticket sales skyrocket in July and August? They should. Summer in the city is like being trapped inside a sauna located in a volcano while being breathed on by a dragon. If you can’t escape to the Hamptons (or Antarctica), your only respite is an air-conditioned movie theater, where you can be entertained as well as chilled. But what’s one better than that? When the movie you’re watching is about people in cold, frozen, snowy locales, doing the opposite of beating the heat.

“Cool Movies,” a new series at the Quad, lets you fantasize about being somewhere else. You can pretend you're Charlie Chaplin, gold-digging in Alaska, hanging off a cliff, driven so mad with hunger you eat your shoe. You can be Sylvester Stallone, battling an oddly English-accented John Lithgow in the mountains of Renny Harlin’s “Cliffhanger.” You can be, uh, Jack Nicholson, whose stint tending to a remote, empty Montana resort in “The Shining” ends with him killing one of his “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” co-stars.

One of the perks of a series with strict parameters are the films that wouldn’t normally go together. In this case, you get “Strange Brew” — the “SCTV” spinoff with Bob and Doug McKenzie — as well as Ingmar Bergman’s grim theology session “Winter Light.” (Then again, both feature Max Von Sydow.) The Bergman's got nothing on the ’60s Czech epic “Marketa Lazarova," a real cinematic challenge, with its fractured narrative and its relentless Middle Ages misery — and a good excuse to turn your brain on mid-summer. Ordinarily, “Doctor Zhivago” might sound like quite the sit. In the wilds of July, 197 minutes of third-rate David Lean (read: still stem-to-stern gorgeous) doesn’t sound long enough.

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A quick shout-out to one of the most ridiculous movies ever made. The movie is Clint Eastwood’s “The Eiger Sanction” from 1975. Clint plays an art teacher who funds his passion for collecting prized paintings by moonlighting as a government assassin. His albino boss, who dwells in an underground lair, hires him to scale the Eiger so he can kill one of his fellow climbers. It’s homophobic, sexist; Clint makes a horrible rape joke on a date and the next second gets laid. Real, professional mountain climbers died making this nonsense. And Eastwood directs it like he’s making “Unforgiven.” Love it or hate it, you definitely experienced something — all while being cooled off. And by the way, is there any more tantalizing-sounding film in July than Eric Rohmer’s “A Tale of Winter”?

"Cool Movies" runs from July 7 through July 13 at the Quad, 34 W. 13th St. Visit the site for showtimes and tickets.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge