Few things are as suggestive or exciting as the thought of a trip on the road. Unfortunately at the moment, due to the pandemic from Covid-19, for many of us packing a suitcase and setting out in search of adventures is not possible. Fortunately, however, we can still escape through the cinema.
Travel “on the road” is a state of mind, a reduced version of freedom. So at a time when moving from the living room to the kitchen feels like a walk, let these films take you to open roads.
1. Sideways – Traveling with Jack (2004)
The memorable comedy by director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) takes us on a seven-day Sauvignon-watered trip to California’s wine district. We join the nice and depressed Miles, played perfectly by Paul Giamatti, and his best friend Jack, handsome and seemingly more normal, played by Thomas Haden Church (who then stole the show from Sarah Jessica Parker in the US series Divorces). Their life story is revealed as they drive from vineyard to vineyard. Sometimes tender, sometimes fun, it’s a wonderful analysis of the midlife crisis best enjoyed with a Pinot Noir – but never, never with a Merlot.
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2. Priscilla, the queen of the desert (1994)
Before the reality show America’s Next Drag Queen, there was the pioneering Priscilla. The acclaimed British actor Terence Stamp plays Bernadette, a bored transsexual drag queen who performs on stage in Sydney, Australia, alongside Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Adam (Guy Pearce in his first major role).
Bernadette is tired of hitting the stage in Sydney, so when the chance for an evening in the remote village of Alice Springs presents itself, the three set off on a rusty old silver school bus called – you guessed it – Priscilla. . The itinerary of the three in the Australian outback includes breathtaking scenery, a lot of introspection, perky disco music and some tense encounters with the natives.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
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3. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Ridley Scott reverses a male-dominated gender by putting two women at the heart of this deeply introspective story. Harvey Keitel (Hal), Michael Madsen (Jimmy) and a young Brad Pitt (JD) play supporting roles while Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon they deliver a unique interpretation.
Submissive Thelma (Davis) is caught in a violent marriage while Louise (Sarandon) sinks into boredom as a waitress in a cheap restaurant. The two set out for a weekend of fishing in a mountain cabin, but have just left town when a chain of events forces them to flee to the Grand Canyon. A modern classic with two wonderful actresses in perfect harmony with each other, and the ending has become part of modern culture. A must see movie.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
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4. Before sunrise (1995)
He may be 26 years old, but this Richard Linklater film is probably one of the best love stories ever. Ethan Hawke plays Jesse, an American traveling through Europe on an Interrail pass, and Julie Delpy plays Céline, a Sorbonne student returning to Paris.
The two strangers make friends on the train as they pass through Austria and decide to spend a night together in Vienna before Jesse takes off to go home. They walk, they talk, they fall in love – it’s perfect. First chapter of the trilogy ‘Before ‘of Linklater, is essentially a hipster movie, shot before hipsters existed. It’s a bit pretentious and a bit slow too, but very nice. I thought about Before sunrise at least twice a day during the pandemic.
Before Sunrise (1995)
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5. American Honey (2016)
Andrea Arnold’s fourth film is a chaotic and hypnotic jewel of nearly three hours about being young and free. We meet Star (the lovely Sasha Lane in her big screen debut) as she rummages through a garbage can for something to eat. She meets a group of misfit teenagers like her led by charismatic Jake (Shia LaBeouf) and sees an opportunity to escape her life.
The group travels across the country selling newspapers door-to-door, but spends most of their time drinking and partying. American Honey does not rely on a conventional narrative structure; like the characters he talks about, it is an unbridled, free, beautiful and exciting film in every frame.
American Honey (2016)
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6. A true story (1999)
David Lynch could have won the award for the slowest road movie ever made. It is the biography of a terminally ill veteran of the Second World War who goes to visit the dying brother with whom he had broken up years earlier, 500 kilometers away. His poor health does not allow him to drive, so the veteran wakes up an alternative means of transport – an old lawn mower.
Lynch is known for making films that are often dark, sometimes incomprehensible, and always weird and offbeat. With A true story, instead, the director presents a delicate and nuanced story in which (spoiler alert) nothing bad happens. As we watch Alvin (Richard Farnsworth) slowly advance on his journey, we hear tales of his life and meet some exquisite people along the way. An unpredictably conventional Lynch film that isn’t talked about enough.
The Straight Story (1999)
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7. Crossroads (2002)
Britney Spears’ big screen debut was harshly criticized upon release – and her approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes still marks a ludicrous 14%. Yet… it is not unwatchable. It stars a young Spears along with Taryn Manning and Zoe Saldana in the roles of three friends from a provincial town in Georgia who set out on a journey to the lights and life of Los Angeles.
Written by Shonda Rhimes, The Power Behind Bridgerton is Grey’s Anatomy, is a very simple story, but that’s okay. In this stressful time, there’s nothing to be ashamed of lying under a blanket and watching Spears travel around California in a convertible. If only to take a look at turn-of-the-millennium fashion and sing along to the amazing soundtrack.
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