Moviemakers have hauled their cameras to some far off places this year. There’s been the icy tundra of Siberia (The Way Back), the vast immensity of Russia’s heartland (The Last Station) and the broken-down desolation of middle America (The Road, Winter’s Bone). But phoey if we want to visit those places right now – too cold and not nearly fun enough. What caught our eye in this year’s travel guide were the sandier, warmer climes, where you relax safe in the knowledge that you’re not about to be eaten by cannibals or set upon by wolves. Okay, so there are one or two exceptions...
Location: French Polynesia
Movie: Couples Retreat
The film may have been all kinds of bobbins, but the locations - overwater villas! Golden sand beaches! Margaritas! - were oh-my-god amazing. If you made it to the end of the film, you’ll know that argumentative marrieds Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman and their other halves kissed and made up after a few days with lunatic French love guru Jean Reno. But you’ll probably have been too busy have been staring at the scenery of the St. Regis Resort to pay much attention. That crystaline water and those luxury, glass-bottomed huts shot Bora Bora to the top of our holiday wishlist. If you can ignore the CG sharks and the whiff of dead jokes, it’s basically paradise. And did we mention the glass-bottomed villas?
Location: Abruzzo, Italy
Movie: The America
Sniffy critics likened the sheen of Anton Corbijn’s film to one of star George Clooney’s coffee ads, but boy did it make us want to become a pretend-photographer-who’s-actually-an-assassin’s-gunmaker-gone-to-ground. Okay, maybe The American was an action movie for people who find Antonioni a bit pacy, but Clooney’s charisma kept us gripped and the breathtakingly shot Abruzzo scenery made us want to call our travel agent, if we had one. When our hero wasn’t roaming the countryside pondering the meaning of life, he lay low in a modest apartment in the picturebox town of Castel del Monte. We’d probably use the local Travelodge, but a visit to this medieval eyrie would be well worth a midlife crisis and a few flying bullets.
Movie: Enter The Void
The Tokyo of Enter The Void is a neon fairyland packed with Gen Y drifters, addled strippers and drugs so hard they’d beat up other drugs and steal their lunch money. No-one in their right mind would apply for a visa to Gaspar Noé’s imagination, but there was something impossibly alluring about the setting of his latest lyseric odyssey. Japan’s capital – like Lost In Translation mashed-up with the futureshock of Blade Runner’s Los Angeles – is mad, bad and dangerous to visit, but hynotic and eerily beautiful with it. Our first (and possibly last) port of call would be this mini-version of Noé’s Toyko. It’s smaller and safer but just as kaleidoscopic. Look! The pretty colours!
Location: The architecture of the mind
Limbo has never looked so good. You might not want to live there, what with all the collapsing buildings, submerged streets, cascading chunks of archi-berg and whatnot, but what a place to take a stroll – and slay a few psychological demons while you’re about it. Cobb and Mal’s subsconcious is the deepest layer of Inception’s dream world. There they find a constantly morphing citiscape that creaks and groans as things go ‘kaboom’ in the other layers. As long as we had our waders and the address of Cobb towers, we’d chance that and risk being buried under a giant Rubik’s cube. Getting back might be a problem though.
Movie: Alice In Wonderland
Who doesn’t love a big old castle, even when it’s owned by a sociopathic queen with an improbably big head and a penchant for decapitation? Say what you will about the Red Queen – and she’s properly loopy – but she’s got an eagle eye for design trends (check out the gloriously baroque interiors), outdoor feng shui (ditto those impeccably manicured gardens) and froggie footmen (ribbit!). The atmosphere around the place may be a little tense, what with to the threat of sudden death hanging over its staff and the giant salivating bloodhound parked outside, but there’s always something going on and it’s a great place to pick up a new hat.
Movie: How To Train Your Dragon
Those rugged Viking types are good at dragon training, herring fishing, longboat building and growing mahoosive beards but, despite coming from the home of IKEA, they’re not known for home improvement. The drafty, highly flammable wooden huts that cling to the slopes of Berk island aren’t what cosy weekend breaks are made of, nor is the heavily fish-and-sheep-based diet, but the teeny pet dragons who live in them are possibly the cutest pets this side of Mogwai. In fact, they’re so adorable we’d risk a flambéing just to spend some time playing fetch with a Deadly Nadder.
Location: Los Angeles
Movie: A Single Man
There’s not an frozen daiquiri’s chance in hell that he’d let us in, but English professor George Falconer’s pad packs the kind of effortless chic that would make Don Draper a very mad man. All that effortlessness takes a lot of hard work, though. Everything is ironed within an inch of its life, the lines are all ‘50s modernist cool, and the feng is 100% shui’ed. The picture of style and substance in harmony is complete by rich pine timbers and books so brainy they need other books to explain them. A visit here would prove two things beyond reasonable doubt: (1) having Tom Ford help pick your furniture is A Good Thing, and (2) it’s probably time to pick up those empty Pot Noodle boxes.
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Movie: It’s Complicated
As you’d expect from a Nancy Meyers film, the interiors of It’s Complicated get a lot of love. That’s particularly true of Meryl Streep’s Jane and her white-heavy home in Santa Barbara, even before she gets a super-duper remodel from Steve Martin’s architect. The kitchen has a huge glass cake stand that’s permanently full of cake for one, and there’s a fair chance that Alec Baldwin will drop by to say hello. Whatever the price, we’ll take it.
Location: A Big American City (or Vancouver)
Movie: Tron Legacy
So you’re a super-rich, totally handsome major stockholder in a Microsoft-alike corporation: where to live? Well, how about two old shipping containers stacked on top of one another at the foot of a suspension bridge? With motorbike parking available in the living room and a perfect ambiance for both old-school games consoles, modern computers and workshop tools, this is the ideal residence for a young man with a father complex and a disdain for responsibility.
Location: Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
Home to the rich and infamous, LA’s most famous hotel boasts a rich and rock ‘n’ roll history. And until our dream machine is finished or a rabbit hole stumbled upon, it’s also one of the few places on this list you can get to. The Marmont is a rabbit hole of its own, in a sense - a timeless world haunted by the ghosts of silver screen starlets, movie moguls and Clark Gable. While you won’t actually find Stephen Dorff’s hedonist movie star padding its elegant corridors, there’s a bunch of other movie stars who regularly call it home. And for a hotel modelled on a grand Loire Valley chateau, it’s not as wildly expensive as you might imagine: rooms startsat $370.