Top Ten Travel Movies by Therese Jamora-Garceau
Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in Bali, Eat Pray Love
Not too long ago, fellow colleague at the Philippine Star, Therese Jamora-Garceau, wrote a sensational article on the best foodie scenes in movies. I went down the list one by one watching those I hadn’t seen before and re-watching the oldies but goodies. As the Assistant Lifestyle editor at The Philippine Star, she feels it is a true “dream job because it affords me countless opportunities to travel. I suffer from a terminal case of wanderlust because I love discovering new places, meeting interesting people and eating all kinds of food.” Much like us over here at The Gypsetters Net! An avid movie buff I thought it would be great for her to make us a list of her Top Ten Travel Movies. It’s great for those who don’t have any plans over Easter Break and planning a relaxing staycation. You’ve got about a week to find them all and arm yourself with some truffled popcorn and snuggle up nice and cozy on the couch.
Love and light, Stephanie
Top Ten Travel Movies by Therese Jamora-Garceau
“When we don’t have the time or the means to travel, luckily there is the travel movie, which is our passport to far-off locations we may only dream about.
The travel movie functions in much the same way as actual travel does, except much more cheaply and experienced in the safety of your own home. (Any faux pas or mishaps committed abroad are happening to the poor fish-out-of-water onscreen, and not to you.)
In a travel movie you get to be the ultimate armchair traveler — the voyeur who gets to enter someone else’s home and country legally and see how they live. Like the film protagonists you find that when you’re in strange surroundings, your eyes are opened to other cultures and other ways of life. Inhibitions may be released, and, without the familiar anchors of family and friends, which shape your identity at home, you may come face to face with your true self.
Here are my favorite travel movies, in no particular order:
1. A Room with a View – Based on the E.M. Forster novel, this is the first of many movies about how traveling to Italy can lead to self-discovery and unleashing the passions within. Buttoned-up young Victorian woman Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) travels to Florence with a chaperone and meets the freethinking George Emerson (Julian Sands), who — carried away by Tuscany’s hothouse surroundings — steals kisses from her to the strains of Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro. Lucy eventually has to travel back to England and choose a more suitable husband, but the aftereffects of her Italian sojourn linger, and forever alter her life.
2. Eat Pray Love – I loved the book, and, like any good fangirl, was of course up in arms when it was inevitably turned into a Hollywood movie starring Julia Roberts. For those who haven’t read Eat Pray Love, this is a serviceable enough flick about author Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery. Hurting from a failed marriage, she comfort-eats her way through Italy, loses the ensuing pasta poundage by meditating in India, then learns to balance her earthly desires and spiritual realizations in Bali, where she gets involved with a medicine man and Felipe (Javier Bardem) — who both present her with new chances at life and love.
3. Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Nubile best friends Vicky and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) holiday in the city of Gaudi, and both get involved with a painter (Javier Bardem), and his tempestuous wife (Penelope Cruz). There’s so much eye candy in this movie, from the ravishing stars to the eccentric beauty of Gaudi’s landmarks. Director Woody Allen filters Barcelona through the same loving lens as his New York City films, and succeeds fantastically.
4. A Good Year – Ruthless stockbroker Max (Russell Crowe) has inherited a chateau and vineyard in Provence belonging to his late uncle. He moves to France to restore the crumbling property and is beset by falls in manure and Marion Cotillard. Based on Peter Mayle’s bestselling novel, this is the male equivalent of Under the Tuscan Sun.
5. The “Before Sunrise” trilogy – Each installment in this trilogy is an amazing travel movie in itself. In the first, Before Sunrise, young American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) invites French student Celine (Julie Delpy) to hop off a Eurail train with him. Together they explore Vienna for one memorable night before parting ways the next morning, vowing to meet again.
The second, Before Sunset, takes place in Paris, where Jesse is on a book tour. Nine years after their initial encounter, he meets Celine again and we catch up with the pair as they chat in a café and walk through quaint Parisian streets, ending up at Celine’s apartment.
The third (though possibly not final) film is set nine years later in Greece, where the couple is vacationing with family and friends. As with the previous two films, we reacquaint ourselves with these two by-now-beloved characters through wonderful dialogue, breathtaking scenery, and the undeniable chemistry of the actors. My favorite travel trilogy of all time.
6. Lost in Translation – Aging movie star Bob Harris (Bill Murray) flies to Japan to film a Suntory whisky commercial. As the title suggests, he gets a massive dose of culture shock — directors barking commands in Japanese, an unintelligible hooker, and bathroom facilities made for diminutive Asians among them — but at his hotel meets an equally lost young woman (Scarlett Johansson). Comrades in battling jetlag and emotional crises (his is midlife; hers, quarter-life), they form a touching connection that deepens as they traverse the neon-lit streets and ear-jangling pachinko parlors of Tokyo.
7. Under the Tuscan Sun – Based on Frances Mayes’ bestselling memoir, the movie relinquishes all literary pretension and is a straight-up rom-com — or rom-dram, as the case usually is. Frances (Diane Lane) gets a free ticket to Tuscany and falls in love with Bramasole, an old villa that she spends most of the movie fixing up, as well as a love interest played by the ridiculously good-looking Raoul Bova. Though the movie makes light of the fact that Italy isn’t always the soul-saver it’s portrayed to be, you still manage to fall under the Tuscan spell of lush landscapes and mouthwatering food.
8. Midnight in Paris – Hack writer Gil (Owen Wilson) is on holiday in Paris with his girlfriend. Entranced by the City of Lights, which he associates with famous authors past like Ernest Hemingway, Gil has a tendency to wander off on his own. At midnight during one of these outings, a vintage car pulls up full of revelers, who invite him to their party. Gil joins them and inexplicably finds himself in the Jazz Age world he was dreaming about — that golden era of artistes like Picasso, F. Scott (and Zelda) Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dali, Cole Porter, Luis Buñuel, Man Ray, TS Eliot, and Gertrude Stein. For writers and armchair time travelers like myself, this is primo wish fulfillment.
8. The Darjeeling Limited – Three brothers who haven’t spoken to each other in a year reunite in search of a “life-changing experience” in India, where they board a train and discover that Louis Vuitton isn’t the only baggage they’ve been hauling around. Their spiritual quest is a sensory feast thanks to Wes Anderson, a director who likes to fill his movies with carefully curated objects, music and people.
10. Thelma and Louise – This, for me, is the ultimate female road movie. Best buds Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) plan a mountain getaway that turns into an escape from the law when Louise commits a crime in order to protect Thelma. Their adventures on the road include picking up sexy hitchhiker Brad Pitt, eluding sympathetic cop Harvey Keitel, and poignant moments like Sarandon taking in the beauty of Wyoming’s rock formations rolling by her car window.
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.