Top 10 Road Trip Films (I Own)

For the next week and a half I will be roaming around the South West of England in a yellow VW Campervan called Barney embarking on A Very English Road Trip. To celebrate I’ve compiled a list of the top ten road trip movies I own on DVD. An odd criteria for a film list but these film lists are superficial at the best of times.

Away We Go
A surprisingly light-hearted film from Sam Mendes as a young couple visit friends and relatives while trying to find the right place to bring up their imminent baby. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are a convincing couple and provide the sanity amongst the crazy characters they visit. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Allison Janney are the two main highlights along their journey.

The only documentary on this list, Catfish follows the burgeoning online romance between Yaniv Schulman and the sister of a young artist he has been emailing. After some suspicious events Yaniv and his friends travel to the mystery girl’s house and uncover something they had never expected. There is debate about this documentary’s authenticity, either way it makes for a gripping watch.

The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Anderson takes his signature style on the road, or rather on the track, as three brothers travel through India by train, looking for their mother and getting to grips with the loss of their father. Jason Schwartzmann, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson fit perfectly with Anderson’s tone as the three brothers and their journey is as much emotional as it is physical. Natalie Portman makes a brief, but revealing, appearance in the preceding short film.

The Go-Getter
The most indie film on the list unites Sundance darlings Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel and Jena Malone and brought together for the first time the she and him in She & Him. A young man has a quarter life crisis, steals a car and discovers love, and himself, on the road. A little bit twee to ever be successful, this is worth a watch if you are a fan of the cast, or just enjoy a gentle film about someone abandoning life and hitting the road.

Into the Wild
Speaking of a young man having a quarter life crisis and hitting the road… This time round the traveller is played by Emile Hirsch with a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart providing the tempting romance he finds along the way. Stewart’s role is quite small though and this is the biggest single-hander of the lot, with Hirsch the only character present throughout. This was Sean Penn’s last work behind the camera and is proof he should do more.

Little Miss Sunshine
An amazing cast go travelling in a yellow VW Campervan (not called Barney) in order to get Abigail Breslin to her beauty pageant. Darkly funny and more than a little moving this road trip ends the way all movies should, with a big dance number. Kevin Bacon would be proud. The film is notable for featuring Steve Carell’s most subdued performance, and for inspiring the colour scheme of this very website.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Even the Coen Brothers have made a road trip film, theirs being an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and starring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as three escaped convicts searching for hidden treasure. Encountering all manner of characters and obstacles along the way this is the quintessential road trip film, and the only one to involve the KKK.

Any good road trip forces the film to shift focus from traditional plot or location and instead focus on the characters who are the only constant through the film, and their relationships. Few films utilise this better than Transamerica as Felicity Huffman’s pre-op transsexual meets her son for the first time as she ferries him across country under the guise of being a charity worker.

Wristcutters: A Love Story
While most of these films involve travelling across the United States, Wristcutters moves beyond the world of the living and instead is set in an afterlife reserved for people who commit suicide. Shortly after his death Patrick Fugit hears that his old girlfriend, Leslie Bibb, has also killed herself and so takes his room-mate and tries to find her. Along the way he encounters some charmingly rustic supernatural elements and Tom Waits, who also provides the soundtrack.

While everyone in Wristcutters is dead, most of the people our travellers come across in this film are the undead. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson travel through the post-apocalyptic landscape in search of Twinkies and instead find Emma Stone (swoon), Abigail Breslin (road trip queen) and more zombies than you can shake a double barreled shotgun at. One of cinema’s greatest cameos is the icing on this zombie cake.

If there’s anything all these films have in common, it’s that the destination is not the important part, it’s the journey and characters that are key when the film has no other consistent element.

The Runaways – Review

Best to get this out of the way before we all start getting excited about the comic adaptation The Runaways. Rather than a story of teens running away from their evil parents this is a story about teens forming a band in the 70’s, and it’s almost a true story.

The Runaways isn’t so much a film about the band The Runaways as it is about Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, both played brilliantly by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. They didn’t even bother buying the life rights to the other band members and you’d be forbidden for not noticing that Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat is in the band.

Moving on… is the film any good?

Yes. the film is wonderfully nostalgic for a time I never knew. The music is good and it all rolls along in a fun way. If nothing else it serves as further evidence that outside of Twilight Kristen Stewart is actually quite good.

No. The film feels long while the journey of the band feels rushed. This makes no sense. It also completely fails to get very far under the surface of the characters and you don’t particularly like or relate to anyone.

Well… I used the word good a lot. This is probably in the top three films released this Friday and so long as you don’t find seeing an underage Dakota Fanning singing on stage in her undies then you’ll enjoy it.

The Runaways is out this Friday.

Kristen Stewart – Vampires = Flop

I don’t know about you but I heard endless amounts about The Runaways during it’s production and up to its release. There were production stills, on-set photos and endless interviews with everyone’s favourite angsty actress Kristen Stewart and it looked like the true Twihards would be flocking out in droves to support the actress they managed to get the Orange Rising Star award at this year’s BAFTAs.

Oddly though as The Runaways ended it’s run in America this week it had taken just $3,626,540 worldwide. Admittedly it was only on limited release but it got a lot of buzz and the Twilight connection brought it plenty of attention so there’s no reason it couldn’t have built up to more screen and made at least its budget back.

This could reveal that Twilight is all about the franchise itself and not the actors within it. Stewart has been shown to have little to no audience drawing power on her own, though perhaps her male counterparts would fare better as they are more often the target of the seemingly endless supply of screaming fangirls. It’s a shame really as Kristen Stewart is a good actress, Twilight aside, and has been in some good films. She just probably shouldn’t be the biggest name in her next feature.

Twilight Gets Ideas Above Its Angsty Station

Kristen Stewart has confirmed that three Oscar nominated, and in two cases Oscar winning, directors have been approached to helm the final act in The Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn.

Gus Van Sant of Milk and Elephant fame is the only director to have confirmed having talks with Summit studios while Lost in Translation‘s Sofia Coppola and Dreamgirls‘ Bill Condon are merely rumoured at this point.

While it is nice to see Summit try to raise to their game for the final two films I would be amazed if they actually managed to get one of these acclaimed directors on board. Also as these are directors known for their signature styles – surely why they were chosen – would the final films look and feel different to their predecessors or would the director be forced to curtail their creative ideas to fit in with the franchise’s style?

Isn’t it a bit late in the game for Twilight to try and make a credible film, the first was an embarrassment. Most importantly if they get a good director am I going to be tempted to actually watch Breaking Dawn?