Ok, we’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that if you’re reading this—or if you can read in general—you won’t be spending your hard-earned money on obvious stinkers like “The Bounty Hunter” or “Repo Man” in your off hours. Instead, we’ve got a fine list of smaller films, all of varying quality, that offer brief trips to such far-flung destinations as North Korea, Sweden, and a tiny island off the coast of the Bronx for your 90-minute weekend getaway.
DESTINATION: Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
MOVIE: “Greenberg”, “The Runaways”
Two very different views of the same city, both of these films truly feed off of their environments. The mid-70s skeeze of southern California is the tinted backdrop for rise of America’s most infamous all-girl band. In “Greenberg”, the twisted roads and verdant backyards of L.A.’s hills challenge and confound Ben Stiller neurotic Brooklynite protagonist.
DESTINATION: North Korea
Is there any place more mysterious and terrifying on earth than the rogue state of North Korea? Another volume in the growing library of documentaries on life inside the prison nation, “Kimjongilia” is mostly a series of interviews filmed outside the country, though the few bits of footage shot inside the DPRK are bright and transporting.
DESTINATION: City Island, New York, New York, U.S.A.
MOVIE: “City Island”
Apparently, there’s a sizable fishing community quietly existing only a few hundred yards off the shore of the Bronx and nobody told us. Filmed almost entirely on City Island, this family comedy mixes small-town life with big-town dreams on an island in the Hudson that has a fine a view of Manhattan, but often seems to exist in another universe.
DESTINATION: Stockholm, Sweden
MOVIE: “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”
Filmed primarily on Gamla Enskede in Stockholm, this adaptation of Steig Larsson’s international bestselling mystery novel is filled with violence, dread, and kink. While most reviews suggest it’s a fun, pulpy jaunt through the chilly beauty of Scandinavia, it’s also pretty clear that for all the over-the-top characters and Byzantine, macabre scenarios, this thriller takes itself more seriously than you ever will.
DESTINATION: New York, New York, U.S.A.
The notices on this New-York-based romantic drama centering around a budding photographer are decidedly mixed. They do agree, however, that northern New Jersey, Manhattan and Queens get a lush visual treatment, both through the lens of the lead character and through director Minos Papas’ camera.
DESTINATION: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
MOVIE: “The Lightkeepers”
Cue the violins—this sentimental romance in the sands featuring Richard Dreyfuss and Mamie Gummer takes place in the rarefied climes of 1912 Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Granted, there’s little advance praise for the film, but sweeping, diffused-light vistas of one of upper-crust America’s longest-lived playgrounds should make for a delightful visual diversion this weekend.
DESTINATION: Trentino and Milan, Italy
Again, hailing from the early years of the last century, this crimson tale of Benito Mussolini’s rise to power as told through the view of his early love, Ida Dalser, was shot on soundstages with exteriors in Turin, Trento, and Savigliano—all locations exotic to American movie audiences. Applauded at Cannes, this may be the hottest ticket out of your boring berg this weekend.
DESTINATION: Rome, Italy
MOVIE: “Mid-August Lunch”
A charming slice of life set in the less affluent corners of modern Rome, “Mid-August Lunch” shares genes with “The Brothers McMullen”, “Waking Ned Devine”, and a hundred French home-and-hearth comedies. If you’re looking for a laid-back trip out of town with a splash of eccentric local color, this may be the one.
Top (clockwise from upper left): “The Runaways”, River Road Entertainment, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, Danish Filminstitute, “Kimjongila”, Green Garnet Productions, “Vincere”, Offside Productions.
Bottom (clockwise from upper left): “Greenberg”, Scott Rudin Productions, “Shutterbug”, Cyprian Films, “The Lightkeepers”, Fish Weir Filmworks, “City Island”, CineSon Entertainment.
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