1. The Big Blue
1988, Dir. Luc Besson
This was my favourite film growing up, and it was only knocked off the number one spot when Lost in Translation came out in 2003 – so it’s safe to say I loved this movie for a looooong time. Set in Greece and Italy and in the intense world of free-diving, it’s visually just stunning and will make you long to place yourself in amongst those meditarranean blues. I’ll even forgive it it’s odd ending, as somehow it just all makes sense – I’d probably do what he did, too. (see how I didn’t spoil it for you?!) Sadly Roseanna Arquette’s character is more than a bit annoying, but hey it’s all part of the story… It’s more than likely that this film played in a large role in me wanting to live on this side of the world for a while – so if you watch it, keep your bags packed and your passport by your side.
2. Lost in Translation
2003, Dir. Sofia Coppola
Hands down my number one movie – and that’s saying a lot. I love the feeling that is given of isolation and loneliness in a world which really is so full and chaotic. But then also revelling in being a stranger in a strange land. I can definitely relate.
3. Buena Vista Social Club
1999, Dir. Wim Wenders
Sure, more of a documentary than a movie, but I double dare you to watch this Wim Wenders film and not want to be immediately transported to a bar in la Habana Vieja, with Omara Portuondo crooning in your ear and Rubén González tinkling the ivories as you sip your rum. It’s certainly the film that made me travel there way back in 2006. And all these years later I’m dying to go back…
4. The Painted Veil
2006, Dir. John Curran
OK so the premise is a little rough (cheating wife is taken to China by her controlling husband during a cholera outbreak). But it perfectly plays against the stunning landscapes and haunting soundtrack. The tension of emotional distress against such a beautiful setting is something which lures me back to watch this film again and again.
2013, Dir. John Curran
A woman crosses the Australian outback with a pack of camels – you are pretty much guaranteed that this is going to be a beautiful film, just with the landscape alone. But the emotive twists and turns and incredible acting make this a really inspiring watch.
6. Y Tu Mamá También
2001, Dir. Alfonso Cuarón
Admittedly, I have a soft spot for anything even remotely related to Latin America, but this movie deserves a place in your heart. The plot and dialogue is intense and transports you to another time, place, and culture (which is a common theme in all my favourite movies) – I always think the best ones are the ones that take you out of your own life and place you firmly in someone else’s. Not every destination is postcard-perfect, and that’s precisely what can make it beautiful.
7. Into The Wild
2007, Dir. Sean Penn
[SPOILER ALERT] OK, the ending isn’t a happy one (even sadder considering the movie is based on the real life of Christopher McCandless) but the desire to leave your day-to-day life, to disconnect, to start again and go forth in search of something – that’s a universal feeling I’m sure we can all relate to. Beautifully shot and accompanied by Eddie Vedder’s achingly emotive voice as the soundtrack, the American wilderness itself is one of the most important characters in this film.
8. Under the Tuscan Sun
2003, Dir. Audrey Wells
Who doesn’t want to leave it all behind, fix up a ramshackle home in the Tuscan hills, and romp around the countryside with a successive string of interesting characters before finally finding true love and a group of friends to call home, all in that beautiful Tuscan light? Sign me up.
2001, Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet
I’m not sure I know anyone who didn’t love this movie when it first came out. We all wanted to be the quirky French girl living her quirky French life, and I must admit that any time I am able to make it to Paris, I wish that the vegetable sellers would be half as jovial as the one in this film.
10. Empire of the Sun
1987, Dir. Steven Spielberg
I first watched this film as a child and I like to re-visit it every few years. Back then I remember being so frustrated and scared for the main character (a young boy who ends up in a confinement camp in China during WWII) but as I progressively got older it was the clashing of cultures and the great documentation of a period in history which started to intrigue me most. In fact, I think it’s time to watch it again…
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring
City of God
Memoirs of a Geisha
Like Water for Chocolate
and anything by Pedro Almodóvar…
There are so many great movies out there I know you will have your favourites. Let me know in the comments below, so I can add them on Netflix?!