Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Travel porn as a movie genre - and no, it's not that type of porn

At a certain point in my movie life, due in great part to my partner in crime, I started labeling certain movies as "travel porn". These movies fall into two categories. First is where a person or persons travels somewhere, possibly foreign and completely out of their element. They interact with the people, places, food, architecture and find life transformed. They discover a new life or a new life discovers them if you want to be philosophical about it. Romance or sex can definitely be part of the recipe too. The second is movies that so completely capture ideas (true or not) about a place and time that the viewer may become whimsical and starry eyed about living in those places. Here is a list of our favorites for your consideration:

-"Under the Tuscan Sun" - recently divorced and bitter Diane Lane buys a home in the Tuscan region of Italy. In a testament to the breeziness of this movie, she does a whole 30 seconds of calculations on how much she can afford to pay after renovations (to be done in her words by "the descendants of Roman gods") and living expenses. If the typical American home buyer had this skill, we could have avoided the whole housing crisis probably.

-"A Good Year" - phone throwing manly-man Russell Crowe keeps this from being an all chick-flick list as a nasty, evil, greedy stock broker in London who leaves it all behind for a life of "eating, drinking, sleeping and shagging" in France.

-"The Holiday" - online vacation home swapping service leads to life fulfillment for English Kate Winslet and L.A. girl Cameron Diaz

-"Saving Grace" - small English village populated by quirky characters (as if there are any others in small English villages) helps a widow save her finances and home by growing and selling the best pot in the world. Notable performance by Craig Ferguson pre Late Late Show.

-"Tea with Mussolini" - based on the life of filmmaker Franco Zeffireli this is a coming of age story with fantastic performances by Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Cher. Yes, Cher and I say that with no sarcasm or irony. You'll just have to see it.

-"Ladies in Lavender" - Judi Dench and Maggie Smith again. Snapshot of life in seaside England prior to WWII with two sisters sheltering a young man who washes up on shore after a boating accident. I know this description may sound really boring but it's not.

-"Raman Girl" - willowy, wispy Brittany Murphy follows her boyfriend to Tokyo and it turns out he is not so hot on the idea. She sticks around though conquers the language barrier and the heart of a grumpy master Ramen chef. This is the last Murphy movie I saw and although it was typical of her roles, it sure makes me miss what she brought to the screen.

- Ok, I see that the choices are skewing, recent, European and not very daring(vanilla travel porn if you will). These are honorable mentions that may round out the list a bit:
-"Enchanted April"
-"Lost in Translation
-"Nowhere in Africa"
-"Out of Africa"
-"The English Patient" (you don't have to point out post WWII Italy is not exactly a vacation)
-"The Beach"
-"Sweet Home Alabama" ( nobody says it has to be foreign and as the movie points out,"you - should need a passport to travel down here").
-"Eurotrip" - complete mocking parody of every tired European stereotype but it does make me laugh a lot.
"The Darjeeling Limited"


Matthew K. said...

Although I haven't seen many of the films you listed, I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I can watch a flick just for the beauty of the location. I'll keep these in mind.

Shemah said...

Yeah.. I have to agree with you. Travel porn should be a whole genre by itself.. :) I enjoyed Under The Tuscan Sun, The Holiday and A Good Year. Great picks. :) I'll share one of mine with you.. Vicky Cristina Barcelona. There's a new upcoming travel porn flick.. Letters To Juliet starring Amanda Seyfried. :)

Mocking Movies said...

Thanks for the feedback, both of you. I was leery about posting this because I was not sure I could really pin down the definition of what I was describing. @ Shemah, Letters to Juliet is on my radar for sure as a movie I will see. Also for better or worse romantic comedies often fit the bill; so our guilty pleasures include movies like Leap Year with Amy Adams.

Shemah said...

Oh I just watched Leap Year.. hahah definitely not the best of romcoms around but I love Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.. so it wasn't AS bad as other people said it was. Or maybe I'm just being a little biased. LOL!

Mocking Movies said...

Formula is as formula does I suppose.. I like Amy Adams and Matthew Goode too so I imagine I will share your opinion of Leap Year.

CellPhish said...

Im thinking Forgetting Sara Marshall should be somewhere on this list too. Good call with the new category I like it

Mocking Movies said...

Thanks and you're right Sarah Marshall would fit right in.