Tag Archives: Jane Boursaw

5 Best 2013 Movies to Inspire Travel

Secret Life of Walter MittyTime for my annual best movies to inspire travel story. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of movies in 2013 that had a distinct sense of place. And many, like The Great Gatsby, were filmed in a location (Australia, in this case) far away from where the movie is set (Long Island, New York). But here are five that stand out for me.

1. The Book Thief. Based on Markus Zusak’s book, this movie tells the story of a young girl who escapes the horrors of WWII Germany by stealing books and sharing them with others. Locations include Berlin; Görlitz, Saxony; and Studio Babelsberg, Potsdam, Brandenburg. Read my review here.

2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You want travel in a movie? Check out this remake of the classic 1947 movie, based on the short story by James Thurber. Ben Stiller plays a daydreamer who escapes his mundane life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job is threatened, he takes action in the real world, embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Locations include British Columbia, the Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland, and the Time-Life Building in Manhattan.

3. Now You See Me. This movie directed by Louis Leterrier didn’t get a lot of press, but I loved it. The story follows an FBI agent and an Interpol detective tracking a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. Count me in! Filming locations include the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Paris.

4. Beautiful Creatures. Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert star in this movie about a boy who longs to escape his small Southern town. When he meets a mysterious new girl, together they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. Based on the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this movie was shot in three locations in Louisiana — Covington, St. Francisville, and New Orleans. Read my review here.

5. The Spectacular Now. This indie film stars Miles Teller as a charming high school senior with a thirst for alcohol and no plans for the future. Until, that is, he gets involved with Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), a “nice girl” with big plans. This movie was filmed in sunny Georgia. 

The Book Thief Evokes WWII Germany

Wednesday Matinee

By Jane Boursaw

Destination: Germany

Movie: The Book Thief

I haven’t read Markus Zusak’s book upon which The Book Thief is based, but now I want to. I love this movie. It’s one of those rare films you can call a “quality film” and actually mean it.

And not only is the PG-13 rating on target, but it’s a good film for teens to see — to learn more about World War II from the perspective of a German kid, and also learn about a time when books were burned in big heaps in the village square. It’s the sort of thing that seems almost unthinkable to American kids, but there it was.

The Book Thief was filmed in various locations in Germany, including Berlin; Görlitz, Saxony; and Studio Babelsberg, Potsdam, Brandenburg. Much thought was put into every single detail, from the train station to the authentic wardrobes, cars and homes. And the film itself seems to have been washed in a vintage patina that brings that era and location alive.

The Book Thief

Like the book, the film is narrated by Death (Roger Allam), who explains that he rarely cares about the stories of the living, with the exception of young Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nelisse). In 1938, Liesel is riding on a train with her frightened mother (Heike Makatsch), who’s rumored to be a Communist, and her sick little brother (Julian Lehmann), who dies before they reach their destination.

During an impromptu funeral in a desolate graveyard along the way, Liesel steals The Gravedigger’s Handbook as a memento. And thus begins her noble life of crime. She’s soon delivered to her childless foster parents, a gentle painter named Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and his curmudgeonly wife Rosa (Emily Watson).

Hans discovers Liesel’s book and teaches her how to read, using not only the book, but the walls of the basement, where she writes word after word. Liesel befriends her neighbor, a tow-headed boy named Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch) who runs fast, idolizes Olympic idol Jesse Owens, and fends off schoolyard bullies.

The Book Thief

When Hans and Rosa agree to hide a young Jewish man, Max (Ben Schnetzer), in their basement, Liesel forms a friendship with him, reads to him when he’s sick, and helps her adoptive parents hide him when the Nazis come around. As the war progresses, Max — who teaches Liesel to resist hate, even as the regimen closes in — realizes that he’s putting all of them in danger.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is at turns heartbreaking and joyful, and acting vets Rush and Watson are wonderful as a bickering married couple who clearly love each other. Nelisse is spot-on as the feisty, optimistic Liesel, who manages to overcome the worst circumstances a young child could endure. Her heart remains open, even as the people she loves disappear from her life.

The Book Thief is a story of hope, loss, perseverance, literacy and love, both for the people in our lives and the books on our shelves.

The Blacklist Takes Viewers from NYC to China

Wednesday Matinee

By Jane Boursaw

Destination: New York City and Across the Globe

The BlacklistThere are just some shows you connect with, and “The Blacklist” is one of those shows for me. I think it’s a combination of the mysterious storyline, the great writing and, of course, James Spader, who keeps you guessing from one minute to the next.

From moment to moment, you never know if he’ll be evil or good, happy or sad, crazy or brilliant. But one thing’s for sure. There’s a lot going on in that mind of his.

Spader plays Raymond “Red” Reddington, the world’s most wanted criminal, who mysteriously turns himself in to the FBI and offers to give up everyone he has ever worked with. Yes, all those bad guys. Not the small-time operators. But the big fish, as Red calls them.

His only condition? He will only work with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boon), a newly minted FBI agent with whom he seemingly has no connection. Or … does he? At first, I was convinced that he was her father, and I’m still on that train of thought. Maybe that’s a “red” herring they’re throwing at us. Time will tell.

The Blacklist: Wujing

One of the fun things about “The Blacklist” is that while it’s filmed in and around New York City – more specifically, Pleasantville, Pearl River and Long Beach, Long Island – Red has connections all over the world. Which means he flies to exotic locations in nearly every episode — on his own jet, no less.

Last week, the story took place partially in Shanghai (well, in a bunker deep in the earth in Shanghai). This week, Red flew to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti to help free Liz from a ruthless killer who uses chemicals to torture his victims (shades of “Breaking Bad‘s” Walter White).

There’s just no telling where we’ll go in upcoming episodes, but wherever it is, I’m along for the ride. “The Blacklist” is one of the best new shows, not only this fall, but in recent years.

“The Blacklist” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC. Read all my recaps over at Reel Life With Jane.