10 Movies for vicarious travel

My blogging angle has clearly become almost exclusively travel-oriented, and any self-respecting travel blogger has to have a list of his favorite travel movies. So here is my attempt to establish bona fides.

I set out with the goal of picking not just the movies filmed in gorgeous locations but those that allowed me to identify with the experiences of main characters. This whole idea of vicarious travel, you know… That did not work out in its entirety and I ended up with a list that well approximates the prevailing blogosphere wisdom.

1. A Good Year (2006)

A hot-shot playboy investment banker inherits a vineyard in the south of France and gradually discovers a different side of life – and love. Few people can truly identify with such fortune but I suspect many dream of it. Gorgeous Provençal landscapes provide the perfect setting for acting that is as simple as it is sparkling. A few quintessential London vignettes offer delightful contrast to the serenity of French countryside. And the movie offers the best ever put-down for the kind of obnoxious American tourists who think that every restaurant has to have their specific preferred meal on the menu: “MacDonalds is in Avignon, fish and chips in Marseille. Allez!”




Drive-by movie review: Moneyball

Going through recent Oscar contenders, I find another movie that I like well enough but do not hold worthy of an Oscar consideration. It gave me a glimpse into inner workings of a baseball franchise, which I always find fascinating (although I have little doubt that the eponymous book on which the movie is based[…]


Hooked on Beatles

Last weekend we went for a movie screening of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, shown as part of New York International Children’s Film Festival. Lifelong Beatles fan that I am, I have never actually seen the movie in its entirety before, so it was a treat (followed up by a nice dinner with friends at an[…]


Drive-by movie review: Hugo

It is brilliantly made. It deserves all of those non-acting Oscars that it received and probably a couple more (I loved the score and the overall editing was superb, but those two awards went elsewhere). And it directly speaks to our love of cinematography as a magical art form – the sentiment I share with[…]


Drive-by movie review: Midnight in Paris

This year, my movie viewing habits prevented me from seeing any of the Oscar-nominated films ahead of the awards ceremony. Even those of the nominees that were already out on DVD did not find its way to the top of my Netflix queue until now. So the very first nominated movie arrived in my mailbox[…]


Oscar coincidence

For the second year in a row, I manage to see one single Oscar contender for the Best Picture award ahead of the annual ceremony. The movie wins the corresponding Golden Globe award and is generally regarded as a front-runner for the Academy award, but ends up losing both the Director and the Best Picture[…]


Mid-year movie roundup

With my continuing meager creative output, I figured I could for once fall back on an almost-forgotten recurring feature. After all, we did decide a couple of months ago to trade in cable movie channels – which, in the States, seem to never have the movies I want to watch on the channels that I happen to have – for a Netflix subscription (especially, seeing how Netflix now streams to Wii – although the selection of movies available for streaming leaves a lot… let me repeat that – a lot!… to be desired).

It would appear that I should have watched more than 17 movies since the beginning of the year, but that’s the whole tally. Usual drive-by impressions are below the fold.

Airport 1970
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Amélie 2001
Body of Lies 2008
Book of Eli 2010
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008
Inglorious Basterds 2009
Iron Man 2008
Nowhere Boy 2009
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief 2010
Public Enemies 2009
State of Play 2009
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 2008
The Dark Knight 2008
The Hurt Locker 2009
The Lovely Bones 2010
The Men Who Stare at Goats 2009



Movie [drive-by] review: Alice in Wonderland

The children and I went to see Alice in Wonderland on Sunday. We are all big aficionados of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, and anything coming out in 3D these days has a strong attraction for us anyway. We weren’t disappointed. The 3D experience is quite rewarding, special effects and amalgamation of live action and CGI continues[…]



NBC pissed me off with their atrocious Olympics coverage. ABC then decided to get on my bad side by making me miss Oscars. Almost. I was almost expecting the looping “important message from Cablevision” that blamed all ills on ABC throughout the day on Sunday to be replaced by live Oscar feed just in time[…]


Movie review: Avatar

I freely admit that I’m not a cinema-going type. My misanthropic tendencies are acutely tested in the presence of inconsiderable louts with their cell phones, eating habits and inability to refrain from talking to one another during the showing. As a result, I rarely go to the movies, unless it is for some kid-oriented viewing with my children, or a personal can’t-wait-must-see-now target such as a new 007 movie.

Occasionally, though, a new release rises to a level of an event, and I make specific effort to go see it.

In my eyes, Avatar was clearly such an event. Everything I saw and heard in the weeks before it came out, suggested that this movie will open a whole new chapter in the history of cinema.

I was not disappointed.

Below the cut I try to explain what I liked about this movie and why it deserves in my book. If you are not afraid of a vague spoiler or two and interested in my musings, feel free to read on. Otherwise, just go and see the movie. In 3D, preferably.


Not watching movies (but two drive-by reviews included)

Four months since my last movie overview – and only a couple of movies watched in that period of time. Before I get into an explanation of why my movie-viewing habits have become so insignificant, let me tell you what those two viewings were, and anyone who couldn’t care less would be then free to skip this post altogether. (As always, there’ll be spoilers, too.)

Hancock 2008
No Country for Old Men 2007



15 Movies Meme

In the absence of truly original content, I sought to fall back on a gimmick today, that being the trebly-symmetric date of 09/09/09. Except, to keep the symmetry intact, I would have to talk about something related to the Olympic Games, as I did both on 07/07/07 and on 08/08/08. Alas, Olympics are lately as much as on my mind as, say, Newton’s binomial theorem. Not a lot, in case you did not get the allegory. Not at all, in fact.

What is on my mind are what we hope the last remaining bits for fully re-integrating ourselves back into American life. Closing on a house and such. Not the topics I am willing to blog extensively about.

Instead, realizing that I’ve been increasingly neglecting my blogging host responsibilities of late, I decided to resort to the true and tried crutch of a meme and followed a recent one via Jason. If interested, look below the cut.


Late June movie round-up

In less than three weeks since my last movie-watching summary I managed to see 11 movies, some of them fairly recent releases. Half of them were watched on transatlantic flights, plus I worked through the DVR queue a bit, in anticipation of fast-approaching cancellation of my satellite TV service.

Here is the lineup, with drive-by reviews as always below the cut (few spoilers cannot be avoided).

10,000 B.C. 2008
21 2008
Fool’s Gold 2008
Gran Torino 2008
sex, lies, and videotape 1989
Taken 2009
The Incredible Hulk 2008
The International 2009
Valkyrie 2008
Watchmen 2009
We Own the Night 2007



Early June movie round-up

This is a bit of an inertia post. I do not feel ready to completely abandon my drive-by movie reviews, but none of the movies I caught in the last month or so were truly on my to-watch list (not even Star Trek, an impulse decision, or Coraline, watched at the behest of the kids, both of which I enjoyed). I’m overdue for an installment of the feature, so even though I have few illuminating thoughts on these, here they are.

Coraline 2009
Ghostbusters 1984
I Am Legend 2007
Star Trek 2009
Wanted 2008



Coraline in 3D

The girls and I went to see Coraline today, which was my first experience with “real 3D” movies. Not the old spectrum-shift type that looked very confusing when not seen through special glasses; and the glasses themselves were not of the flimsy cardboard variety with one red eye and one blue eye. Instead, we were[…]


Movie review: Star Trek

If this blog is any kind of a guidance, yesterday was only the third time in a year that I actually went to a cinema to watch a movie. I might as well give my brief expressions of that here. Since most people who are interested in Star Trek undoubtedly have read – or written themselves – tons of illuminating analysis of the movie elsewhere, and those not interested should have a fair chance of ignoring it altogether, I’m hiding the body of the post below the fold. (There will be a few spoilers, too, in case you have not seen the movie.)


April movie round-up

The three films that I watched for the first time during the month of April are all, to a degree, “acclaimed”, if not critically, then at least among some of my friends. That last consideration drove my selection a bit, on the few occasions where I did find time to watch a movie.

Fargo 1996
Juno 2007
The 13th Warrior 1999

As always, my thoughts on each movie are below the cut, proceed at your own risk.


March movie roundup

You would think that after a short hiatus I’d come back with plenty of stuff to talk about. You would be wrong. I am not touching any of the current events or political topics (not that I have ever been prolific in that area), there is nothing exciting going on at home (only a couple of weeks left before the next excellent travel adventure, though), and I can’t think of a fascinating expat topic to expound upon.

I’m left pretty much with an assortment of my serialized “features”. So, I suppose, I’ll fall back on one, bringing it forward from its usual slot, because (a) there is little chance that I’ll see more movies until the end of the month, and (b) I actually want to talk about movies for a change.

[I heard your collective groan from here. You don’t have to be so obvious. Feel free to not look below the cut – I won’t hold a grudge.]

In the first half of the month, I watched a few of recent award contenders, interspersed with a couple of “guilty pleasures”.

Across The Universe 2007
Hitman 2007
In Bruges 2008
Slumdog Millionaire 2008
Vicky Cristina Barcelona 2008

There be spoilers – I’ll keep them to a minimum, but please be warned.