Mandatory Movies: What To Watch When You Desperately Need to Get Away
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We all want to get the hell out of Dodge sometimes. If only life were like the movies, we would. Since you probably can’t just drop everything and fly off to distant lands where cool blue waters and beautiful women await, you’ll have to settle for the cinematic version instead.
In this installment of Mandatory Movies, we’ve rounded up the best movies to watch when you need to get away. The advantage of watching a vacay onscreen instead of taking one IRL? No disappointment (and no sunburn)!
Cue up these flicks and forget the world for a while.
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'Into the Wild'
If you’ve ever wanted to say “eff everything” and re-establish yourself in a secluded location, population one, this is your movie. The story is based on the true story of Emory University grad Christopher McCandless who, at 19, gave his savings away to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live off-the-grid. En route to Denali National Park, he meets a colorful cast of people who provide encouragement or wisdom. When he finally settles in an abandoned school bus in the wilderness, though, Christopher realizes he may have underestimated Mother Nature.
'A Bigger Splash'
We all want to escape from something. For Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), it’s her rockstar career while she rests her voice; for her boy toy Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), it’s alcoholism and depression. What better place to hideaway than a secluded villa on the island of Pantelleria? All’s well until Marianne's ex (Ralph Fiennes) shows up…with his hot young thing of a daughter (Dakota Fanning). Awkward! Or arousing? This brash film hits all the lusty sweet spots while steeping you in luscious Italian scenery and gratuitously sensual skin shots.
'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlet Johansson) are hot New York friends visiting Barcelona for the summer. While Spain is geographically gorgeous, the pair spend more time ogling artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). When his ex-wife María Elena reappears, things get heated – in a way you wouldn’t expect but will totally approve of (hint: girl on girl action).
'The Darjeeling Limited'
Three troubled brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) gather a year after their father’s death for a train trip across India to bond with one another and explore spirituality. When those goals go awry, they detour to the Himalayas to reconnect with their mother, now living in a convent. This film proves that running away will take you places you never expected – and that’s not a bad thing.
'The Trip to Italy'
Technically the second installment of a trilogy, this film finds funnymen and best friends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traipsing through Italy for a series of restaurant reviews. The food porn, combined with the comics’ incessant impressions and awkward attempts at seducing the locals, make this a vicarious bro vacation. Make sure you check out its predecessor, The Trip, too.
'Lost in Translation'
Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a sad-sack American actor in Tokyo to film a whiskey ad. One night at the hotel bar, he meets a fellow (but much better looking) sad-sack, Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson), a young American accompanying her husband on a work trip. The odd couple starts hanging out, easing each other’s loneliness and indulging in all the kooky night-life Tokyo has to offer, including karaoke. You’ll be rooting for these two by the end of the film – and you’ll want to book a flight to Japan ASAP.
'Midnight in Paris'
What if you could travel not just to Paris but through time as well? That’s what failed writer Gil (Owen Wilson) does accidentally one night during a trip to the City of Lights. After being transported to a Parisian bar circa 1920, Gil meets all his favorite literary heroes, from Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein to Scott F. and Zelda Fitzgerald. During the day, Gil returns to the bewildering present and his stuck-up fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), but at night, he comes alive in the company of Picasso’s mistress (Marion Cotillard). His dalliances in this other dimension will change the course of his future forever. That Paris scenery, though? Timeless.
'The Motorcycle Diaries'
A young Che Guevara (Gael García Bernal) and his best friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) adventure through South America on motorcycle, aiming to cover as many miles and sleep with as many women as they can before they begin working in a Peruvian leper colony. What starts off as carefree fun turns serious as the young men confront poverty like they’ve never seen before. The journey drastically changes Guevara’s life trajectory from med student to political revolutionary.
A woman decides to trek 2,000 miles across the Australian desert with a convoy of camels, a dog, and a rifle because “Why not?” Along the way, she beds a National Geographic photographer played by Adam Driver. (If only all “solitary” travelers could be so lucky as to find a one-night stand on their itinerary.) Based on a true story, this film will inspire you to hit the road and never look back.
What would you do if you suddenly found out you had stage four cancer? That’s the dilemma young Canadian Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson) faces in this film festival favorite. Instead of treatment, Ben opts for a motorcycle tour that takes him to a slew of landmarks from Toronto to British Columbia, giving him ample time to decide what he wants to do with the rest of his life and if he wants to share it with his fiancée.