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My TV Dinner

Every Friday The Social's digital correspondent, Jessica Allen, answers two questions we face every day. What should I eat? And what should I watch? The answer for one is frequently found in the other.

The Shallows: How shark attack movies kick off summer

Jessica Allen pleads to watch her favourite childhood film - Jaws. Simon does not oblige.

Blake Lively stars in The Shallows. Jessica Allen thinks sandwiches are the perfect meal for the summer solstice.


Blake Lively stars in The Shallows. Jessica Allen thinks sandwiches are the perfect meal for the summer solstice.

Blake Lively recently said that The Shallows, a film opening Friday in which she stars as a woman trapped on a rock surrounded by sea battling a shark, isn’t just “a survival movie, an isolation story,” but also one that addresses the environment: “Because of climate change and global warming,” the 28-year-old former Gossip Girl said, “what was once in the deep is now in the shallows.”

I’m not sure I got that from the trailer, which was nonetheless appealing. I mean, Blake Lively vs. a great white shark? OK! Film critic and industry pundit Scott Mendelson agrees: “It does seem like a perfect summer movie,” he recently wrote in Forbes, “and of course it was a glorified B-movie horror thriller about a giant shark that kickstarted the modern summer movie season in the first place.”

That was exactly 41 years ago on June 20, 1975. Jaws, which put then 27-year-old director Steven Spielberg on the map, opened in just over 400 theatres but became the highest grossing film in history.

I don’t remember where I first saw it but for close to a solid year when I was five (Jaws was rated PG) I was certain that a great white shark resided under my bed. That my father hid outside my bedroom door humming a two-note tune — duh-dah — might’ve contributed to this fallacy.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. But I do know that when my brother and I were teenagers, with little to say to each other, we’d swap lines of dialogue from the film instead of having an actual conversation. That they were mostly bits of monologues delivered by Quint, the Orca fishing boat’s salty captain played by Robert Shaw, hardly mattered.

We also became life-long devotees of early Spielberg films and revelled in learning about the movie-making mythology that Jaws is steeped in: how a film shot with a relatively small budget with three malfunctioning mechanical sharks — collectively nicknamed Bruce, after Spielberg’s lawyer — became a global phenomenon winning three Academy Awards.

And yes, some say this original summer blockbuster was the beginning of the end of art house films. I say: “It’s a masterpiece! The performances, especially Roy Scheider’s as Brody, are extraordinary! Let’s watch it tonight!”
Simon says: “Again?”

“How about just the DVD bonus material?” I pleaded, while we prepared summer sausage sandwiches — another seasonal staple in our home — with corn relish, tomato, onion, lettuce, cheddar, mustard and Simon’s mom’s extraordinary dill pickles. That they require no cooking was a bonus because the first day of summer reached a high of 35 degrees.

I stacked my sandwich real high with toppings. Meanwhile, Simon stacked three. Three giant sandwiches.

“You’re gonna need a bigger plate!” I said. “Ha ha ha!”

We watched the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup instead.

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