Need a little inspiration? Craving an adventure and want to make that feeling a little more intense? Here's my pick of movies, old and new, that will have your imagination running wild and your heart full of good feels and inspiration.
Into the Wild
I realised some time ago that the characters I love fall most irrevocably in love with, are the kind of outsider figures who exist beyond the constraints of what we accept as ‘normal society’. It is the people who look at everything they have, everything the modern world gives us and that we all so deeply rely on, and decides “I don’t need that”. There’s a power in that choice that I believe the rest of us admire, crave, love, and almost certainly, fear.
Into the Wild gifts us the journey of one such individual. It is a journey of self-discovery and adventure, and best of all, it’s based on a real-life story - that of Christopher McCandless; an American college graduate who gave away all his possessions and hitchhiked into the Alaskan Wilderness in the 1990's.
Bringing you beautiful scenery and complex and inspiring characters, In to the Wild had me questioning what mattered to me most and why I had decided such, leaving me with a deep yearning to set off in to the wild and do some serious soul searching.
Midnight in Paris
I learnt recently that there is a condition called Paris Syndrome, where by people suffer a mental break upon visiting the city of love and realising it is not quite what they expected.
Just, woah. Firstly, that’s magnificently extreme. But I kind of get it – so many beautiful images of this magical place bursting with history and art and love… Paris is a place many dream of and aspire to visit, and what if it’s just a little too… real, and gritty and.. normal?
Well, it might be a stretch so bare with me, but this is the beautiful paradox that Midnight in Paris has brought so beautifully together for me.
On one hand, this film weaves a beautiful web of history, love, art and connection, drawing you into the inspiring world so completely that I immediately wanted to shut the door behind me and stay there forever. On the other hand, it presents a bittersweet reality of life; that not all things are as perfect as they seem (oh so relevant in today’s social media drenched world) and that indeed, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Midnight in Paris, this quirky Woody Allen 2011 creation, got me with all the feels. It was funny - Owen Wilson giving a cracker performance with his usual endearing humorous approach piggybacked on a truly lovable romantic and slightly lost soul - and it was nostalgic, handpicking some of the most iconic artists and movements from the history books and inviting me to enjoy them as if we were old friends in familiar surrounds. Get around it, and then get around some flights to Paris. The city of love is waiting.
This wilderness odyssey is not for the faint hearted. I state my disclaimer upfront.
Jungle is the harrowing true story of a young traveller who finds himself alone and desperately fighting for survival in an uncharted part of the Amazon Jungle in the late 80's. You may think it obscure that I would flag this as a film to "inspire" one to seek adventure. And fair point. A raw and treacherous story about the way we navigate our friendships, the decisions we make when we are at our limits, the mistakes we make and the results we must live with ... it's hard hitting and gut wrenching at times (I especially wouldn't recommend eating while watching, unless fried monkey or unhatched baby birds are your thing).
But let me explain and hopefully convince you.
The opening scene with our adventurer - Yossi, played by Daniel Radcliffe - hitchhiking through the hills of Bolivia is a magical compilation of stunning untouched wilderness, feelings of freedom and of a kind willingness to connect with those around us.
My advice? Fight hard to hold on to those opening glimpses of magic, for by the time the credits roll and you yourself have emerged from Jungle covered in mud and on the edge of madness, that magic will be your guiding star in how to recover and most importantly how to appreciate the journey that you've just witnessed.
At the core of it, Jungle is the story of an adventurer and of the light that burns deep within us, urging us to explore, discover, and search for that beyond which we know. Sometimes that light blinds us, driving us to confuse adventure with recklessness. But ultimately that light drives us as much as it defines us and what we are capable of. Jungle is not for the faint hearted, but rather for those willing to explore the bounds of what their heart searches for, and what their core self might be capable of.
Under the Tuscan Sun
It was around the same time that Eat, Pray, Love was dominating every top 10 list that existed, and bookstores were full of inspiring stories by women who looked at everything they had in their affluent city lives and decided it wasn’t at all what they wanted.
One of the original films released in this saturated genre of the time, Under the Tuscan Sun prevails as a fan favorite and all around feel good gem. Pour a glass of wine for this one, maybe even dish up a bowl of olives, and let yourself be taken to Tuscany for one lazy afternoon.
Fed up, uninspired, hating your day job? For some, maybe yes. Lost everything, broke, no direction? Hopefully, fewer of us. Constantly thirsty for inspiration, curious about who you truly are underneath and what you could achieve given the chance? For me, always.
Wild is the (true*) story of Cheryl Strayed, a woman whose life was falling apart and own identity is slipping away from her.
If you’re in need of few hours of raw storytelling, of real life struggles and individuals that hit you right in the heart and refuse to let go, then Wild is just for you. Wild holds a mirror up to some very real and very deep fears that can plague us in dark times - who you might become through trauma, and what parts of you might be lost when you lose in life what matters most to you - and then mercifully, Wild sheds light on a pathway back to one’s self.
I promise you, by the time the credits roll you’ll feel deeply inspired as a woman and as a traveler, and no doubt will have google maps open to “longest hikes in the world”.
The Longest Ride
If you’re a romantic at heart, or hell, just a gal who loves a good chick flick complete with horses, The Longest Ride will satisfy you better than chocolate cake and a glass of red wine.
The story of professional bull rider (tall dark and handsome Scott Eastwood) meets Arts Major Sorority girl (sweet and relatable Britt Robertson), The Longest Ride is the story of how they met, how they were crazy for each other, and then all the many things that came between them.
It’s the ‘dangerous boy with a heart of gold’, meets ‘gorgeous down to earth good girl’ kind of love story that stole our hearts in classics like Dirty Dancing… and just as Jonny made us all think that if we went on a family holiday to Virginia we might meet sexy as hell devoted man just like him, so too will The Longest Ride provide you with day dreams of meeting the cowboy of your dreams in North Carolina.
So yep, it’s as simple as that. Scott Eastwood’s 1950’s charm and chivalry, beautifully packed up with swoon worthy good looks will have you packing a pair of cowgirl boots and heading to America’s South West by weeks’ end after watching this one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
This modern classic will simultaneously make you want to gather your besties for a big one, and absolutely never go out and party again.
A sometimes all too real story of the dark domino effect that a few liquor induced bad decisions can have, The Hangover is hilarious, cringe worthy at times, and quite simply the perfect “amp up” film for that time when you’re ready to hit Vegas with the crew.
Don’t forget to take care of your selves though, as coming out that unscathed – face tattoo not withstanding – from such events is certainly only possible from the Hollywood universe.
Gorgeous long blonde hair, a smile that’s one in a million, free spirited singing from atop a cliff in the Greek Islands - this movie opens with such energy and love, you’re left smiling and instantly in love with our leading gal Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and whatever journey she’s about to embark on.
A musical set to the infamous hits of ABBA, Mamma Mia! Is the story of a young bride to be trying to find out who her biological father is. There’s three possible options, all of which Sophie has invited to the Greek Islands in the days before the wedding.
Hilarity, singing, dancing, and irresistible heartwarming times ensue. It’s a family feel good movie that had my mum telling me stories of the beautiful Greek islands for days to come, and my girlfriends and I wondering if we might look and free and fabulous as Amanda atop a hill on the other side of the world.
All images thanks to imbd.com