On the Set: Four Films That Might Send You Packing

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Most of us would often go to the cinema for an afternoon or evening’s entertainment. But I noticed some of the films in recent years are inspiring people to travel to the exotic locations the film would often take the story. There are the usual films such as the James Bond, Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible franchises that would often take the protagonists to exciting and exotic locations all over the world, not to mention the ultimate chick flick Eat, Pray, Love. However, there are some films that may not have the thrill of a spy movie or the drama of a divorcee that might eventually, after a quick realization, send you packing. Here are three films you folks might want to check out. This would be the best time to say ‘Spoiler Alert!

Monuments Men (2014)

To some this is a film about war to other it is a film about looted art. But to me, this is also a travel film. The places featured in this film are those where battles took places towards the end of World War II. These places are now visit by travelers for different of reasons. First, it takes you to Ghent in Belgium showcasing the famous and later looted altar piece created by brothers Hubert and Jan Van Dyke from the cathedral. Then you are taken to various big cities in the US where the lead character Lt. Frank Stokes (played by George Clooney) recruited artists and art experts to enlist in the US army for the sole purpose of finding works of art in Europe looted by the Nazis. Then the film takes the audience to England to meet British allied forces and their representative played by Hugh Bonneville (of the Downton Abbey fame) which later took them all to the beaches of Normandy. Here is where their adventure truly starts as they started strategically planning and collecting supplies for their mission. The monuments men then splits up – one goes to Deauville and works for the French resistance who later took them to Paris. Two goes to Ghent to see the famous altarpiece in the city’s cathedral however they came too late. A British officer went to Bruges straight to the city’s cathedral to protect the Bruges Madonna by Michelangelo known to be the only sculpture (or work of art) by the artist to ever leave Italy. The British officer however protects the sculpture in vain as he was then killed by Nazi looters – the first casualty from the Monuments Men. The film then brings the viewer to various places in Germany, particularly the mines where the Nazis hid the stolen art – Seigen, Merkers and Altausee, by then all have been bombed by the Allied Forces. They also went to Remagen, Heilbronn and to the fairy tale castle of Ludwig II in Neuschwenstein where various looted stone sculptures and objet d’art were kept by the Nazis. Today, these places are visited by the thousands every year in remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives for the war effort. Actors Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Jean Du Jardin and John Goodman also star in the film.


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Hector and the Search of Happiness (2014)

I found this little gem of a comedy when I was browsing through my Netflix subscription. The film was based on the novel of the same name written by Francois Lelord which was set in Paris. Unlike the novel, this film was set in London. The film features Simon Pegg who plays Hector, a London-based psychiatrist who one day decided to leave his practice to search for the meaning of happiness in order to better help his patients. He leaves London for Shanghai. On the way, he meets a grumpy corporate executive who introduces him to the fabulous people and the nightlife offered by clubs at the Bund. When he didn’t find it there he headed to the Himalayan Mountains ending up in a monastery of monks who, with the help of a satellite dish are able to have Skype. With teachings from the monks in hand, Hector then goes to Africa meeting a charming African lady on the plane declaring that one of the things that make her happy is sweet potato stew. Hector also meets an old friend who lives in Africa, a doctor who helps treat locals of various ailments. There is no mention of which country in Africa Hector actually went to but the film shows the African bush country with the wildlife in the background. Some unfortunate events happened to Hector in Africa – getting himself in trouble with a dangerous drug lord played by Jean Reno who he later befriended by helping what was troubling his wife. On top of that, he was kidnapped by the local militia who he later escaped. By this time he realizes he needed to reconnect with old friends. Hector then heads to Los Angeles, on the way helping a woman who recently had brain tumor surgery experiencing an uncomfortable flight. In Los Angeles, he meets with an old flame Agnes played by Toni Collette, who now has a husband, two children and another one of the way. Here, he meets a famous psychiatrist played by legendary actor Christopher Plummer who later opened his eyes about what happiness really means. With this, Hector rushes back to London and reconciles with his girlfriend played by Rosamund Pike, and all is forgiven and well again. If you get to see this film, please let me know – do you think Hector really found the meaning of happiness?

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Chef (2014)

This is for those craving for a good road trip across the United States. The film is a story about a once-famous executive chef, played by Jon Favreau who lost his way from creative freedom by conforming to the will and ideas of his restaurant owner played by Dustin Hoffman. He was later fired and restitution came from the oddest of people, his ex-wife’s ex-husband, who gave the chef a food truck to start a new business at the same time spending some very important quality time with his young son along the way. The adventure started in Los Angeles where the chef calls home. He later went to Miami spending time with his ex-wife’s family, picking up a food truck at the same time discovering Cubano sandwiches. With a new food truck and an inspirations to make food with passion again, the chef, his son and now joined by his old sous chef (played by John Lequizamo) ventured out to South Beach selling Cubanos and other treats almost getting arrested. They then ventured out to New Orleans introducing his son to beignets at the French Market which later gave the chef an idea to add another item on his menu. They then drove to their food truck to Austin visiting the famous barbeque joint called Franklin’s and later sold its barbeque briskets as slider at the sidewalk of South Congress Avenue. He heads back to Los Angeles with a new lease on his professional life. To me this is not just a film about road trip but it is also a film for foodies. The film takes its audience to various places giving inspiration to try regional cuisine allowing a different experience in each city. After all, the food featured in this film alone is something one should experience in their lifetime. The film was written and directed by Jon Favreau of the Iron-Man fame. The film also stars Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johanssen and Oliver Platt.

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North by Northwest (1959)

This famous Hitchcock film is about mistaken identity and government secrets starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, an ad executive from New York, you might want to say he was the original fictional Mad Man. He was mistaken as the mysterious George Kaplan by a group of men (played by James Mason and Martin Landau) wanted by the CIA. but throughout the film, no one seem to know why. Eva Marie Saint plays Eve Kendall, a pawn in this whole charade. This film also has the famous Hitchcock cameo right after the opening credits.

The film first takes you to New York City and some of its historic landmarks such as the Plaza Hotel, the United Nations Building and Grand Central Station. It also ventured out of the city to a town called Glen Cove in Nassau County. After an overnight train journey (presumably with Amtrak) from New York, it brings us to Chicago at its landmark hotel then called the Ambassador East Hotel, now called the Public Hotel located at the city’s Gold Coast area. Then mysteriously, the film leads the viewing to the Great Plains of Indiana, particularly at an intersection of Highway 41. This is where the famous “airplane chase” scene occurred. A few minutes later the film travels to Mount Rushmore just outside Rapid City, South Dakota. It is believed that this is the first time the famous monument was featured in a motion picture. Another film that featured Mount Rushmore is National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

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These are just some suggestions of films that will inspire you to pack your bags and see the world. Some of these films may not be immediately deemed as travel films but it will definitely show you places perhaps you never thought you’d see and visit. Watching these films I find are time and money well spent.

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