So get a little wild while adhering to the recommended guidelines from health experts and government officials: Pause the push notifications and turn on these movies that drop the By The Way staff instantly into another world.
“The Descendants” (2011)
It’s deeply sad (and endearing), but this movie always transports me to another place. The book-turned-movie about a family being torn apart by death and land disputes is set against the stunning backdrop of Hawaii. The film is full of lush vegetation, untouched mountains in Kauai, beaches of Waikiki and old Hawaiian plantation-style homes. Sure, I’m sobbing by the end, but at least I’m on an island in my mind.
— Amanda Finnegan, By The Way editor
“Eat Drink Man Woman” (1994)
Not only does this movie make me deliriously hungry, it allows me to travel back to Taiwan, my mother’s homeland, where her whole family still lives. I love seeing the bicycles and motorcycles whirring through traffic and the alleyways in the busy capital of Taipei. How the characters squabble and get back together also makes me tear up. They remind me of my own family, their intonations, what they say and can’t say. It’s especially bittersweet during this time, when I’m far away from my family. My grandfather in Taipei just turned 99, and we had to share that moment on Facebook.
— Marian Liu, operations editor
“The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)
The dreamy Italian backdrop makes up for the fact that the movie can be wildly stressful to watch. It’s a psychological thriller set in the 1950s, and largely about wealthy people, so everyone is beautiful, and so is everything they’re wearing. You will be cringing for half the movie because of the suspense, but you will also be drooling over the seaside Italian villages.
— Natalie Compton, reporter
“Mamma Mia! The Movie” (2008)
Look, I know this is a divisive pick, but I am 100 percent team ABBA. The sets make me feel like I’m right there on the Aegean Sea. The songs cheer me up and make me want to dance. God, I wish I could be on a remote Greek island right now, but this’ll have to do.
— Aviva Loeb, designer
“The Beach” (2000)
This movie just makes me want to travel, plain and simple. It’s gritty. It’s adventurous. At times, dangerous. And I think it gets at the reason why a lot of people feel compelled to get away: to experience something totally new and break your day-to-day routine. Plus, every time I hear the soundtrack, I’m transported to that white beach, those crystal-clear waters and star-filled night sky. Unfortunately, when this movie came out, so many people flocked to that beach in Thailand, Maya Bay, that it closed. So I will just live vicariously through this movie, as many times as I want. Especially now.
— Rachel Orr, design editor
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)
Before you scoff, it’s technically a road-trip movie. The majority of the film, shot in Namibia, consists of Charlize Theron driving a giant truck as if her life depended on it ... because it does. It makes me want to be stuck in the middle of the desert. With a dirt bike and a bandanna. On purpose.
— Monica Rodman, video editor
So, the premise isn’t exactly uplifting: A group of scientists and astronauts are tasked with finding humanity a new place to live because Earth is literally dying. Yikes. But the emotional core of the film rests on the idea that no matter how far we are apart, be it in time or literal space, love is the connection that binds us. I’m always stunned by the visual backdrop of the film, and even though a guy ages 50 years in a day, and (spoiler alert) Matt Damon turns out to be a space murderer, it breaks my heart every time at the end, when I hear Matthew McConaughey scream “Murph!” as he’s trying to reach his daughter.
— Drew Jones, reporter
“La La Land” (2016)
I keep thinking of this movie because 1. I love a musical and 2. it brings me back to what feels like my last carefree vacation before social distancing and intensive hand-washing became the norm. Sure, there was plenty of traffic in Los Angeles, and no one got out of their cars in the middle of rush hour to sing and dance like they do in the movie. But the soundtrack played in my head as I watched sunsets at the Griffith Observatory and Santa Monica Pier, and when I hear the music now, it takes me right back to the sunshine, palm trees and peaceful state of mind.
— Hannah Sampson, reporter
This quirky movie takes place mostly in Montmartre, but was shot all around Paris. It’s in French, so it gives me a chance to pretend I still remember some of what I learned in my many years in French classes. Every time I watch it, I’m reminded of the promise I made to myself to get back to Paris one day. While that won’t be happening anytime soon, it’s nice to have this movie to take me there whenever I want.
— Christine Ashack, designer