Le Grand Voyage
I love road movies. Movies where the protagonists set off on ridiculous journeys across unfathomable distances (The Great Race, Around the World in Eighty Days). They remind me of my childhood, when my parents would throw us kids in the car and drive for weeks on end. Luckily, we'd stop to take in all the sights along the way – unlike the characters in Le Grand Voyage, who barely stop for breath, as they travel by car from France to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
As a filmgoer, I'm pretty accustomed to seeing footage of Tokyo, but there are less opportunities to see the Japanese countryside. Here's a chance. Kikujiro starts in the city but spends most of its time meandering through the lush green land surrounding it.
Director Thomas McCarthy has a knack for making brilliantly understated movies with talented character actors. He also knows how to use real locations to great effect. In his first movie, The Station Agent, he followed a trio of misfits around the backwaters of New Jersey. In his second, The Visitor, he's all over New York City.
As a stylized musical, Funny Face is a great watch. Gershwin meets Richard Avedon in a high fashion romp through New York and Paris, it's easy on the eye and highly entertaining. The fact that it stars the luminous Audrey Hepburn doesn't hurt either. But for the purposes of this Movie Atlas, it's the Parisian scenes which are worth watching.
When it comes to comedians and American cities, Woody Allen has made New York his own. In 1991, Steve Martin attempted to do the same for Los Angeles. A tough call, as so many movies have been filmed in the Californian city. However, LA Story achieves what most of the others don’t – it makes the city itself the star.
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Ferris Bueller's Day Off
It's one of my favorite movie scenes. Matthew Broderick, as Ferris Bueller, jumps up onto a parade float on its way through downtown Chicago. Surrounded by a bevy of Germanic ladies, he mimes and swaggers his way through Wayne Newton's 'Danke Schoen', then the Beatles' 'Twist and Shout'.
The Station Agent
Been-Seen's Movie Atlas is a unique opportunity – a chance to explore the world through movies. Movies that were filmed on location and show you real places, either as they are now, or as they were when the film was made. If you've been thinking of going to New Jersey, don't rent Garden State. Don't get me wrong… it's a great movie, but watch it for the mood, characters and soundtrack, not the landscape. Rent The Station Agent.
Throughout the film we see the bikers riding across some of the most beautiful roads from the southwest to the south. All the roads and locations are places you can actually travel on and visit. A lot of the journey is done on the famous historic Route 66 (and now I-40).
The movie’s plot is somewhat simple, and begins with the two bikers smuggling drugs from Mexico to Los Angeles to fund their trip. The true purpose of the film is to portray a lifestyle of two young men who want to just live and observe America.
The characters’ outfits even portray this love of America with “Captain America” (Fonda) dressed in all leather with a big American flag on his back and another American flag on his helmet. “Billy” (Hopper) dresses in Native American pants and jacket.
During their travels, they visit and meet people who represent a wide range of Americans. These include a rancher who lives with his big family on a farm, hippies living on a commune and trying to grow their own food, rednecks who chase them out of a diner and prostitutes in
Even 40 years after its release, Easy rider still strikes a chord with people who dream of breaking free from their daily routine. EW
It's Los Angeles, 1996. A group of young actors are hanging out in east Hollywood, emulating (with varying degrees of success) their heroes, the Rat Pack. Filmed entirely on location, Swingers has been praised for capturing the city and its wannabe lifestyle – so much so that it was recently named one of the LA Times' top 25 LA movies.
Beed-e Majnoon (or The Willow Tree) poses a very challenging question: what would happen if a blind man was to gain sight? It's almost impossible to imagine, which is what makes this film so compelling. Intriguingly, when the protagonist Yusef, a blind Iranian university professor, does regain his vision, the sights of his native Tehran are as new to him as they are to the viewer.