Lunana: a Yak in the Classroom was nominated for best international feature this year. A disillusioned schoolteacher is transferred to the most remote school in the world, cut off from modern life deep in the Himalayan glaciers, to a class with no electricity or even a blackboard. In beautiful Bhutan, in the Dzongkha language. On Kanopy and dvd.
A favorite film of mine is Latcho Drom, which is no longer available on dvd and isn't streaming. But you can watch it for free on youtube. The film traces the music of Romani people on a journey through India, Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, France and Spain. Latcho Drom means Safe Travels. What a fantastic movie and incredible music. The soundtrack is available.
A director who is really off the beaten track, and by that I mean "out there" is Yorgos Lanthimos. I liked The Favorite - it was funny! The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer were kind of fascinating, but very creepy and disturbing. I haven't seen Dogtooth. "Sick", "Twisted", "Ridiculous" are some of the comments, so his movies don't appeal to everyone.
Some surrealist movies that I can confidently recommend are Brazil (Terry Gilliam), Alice (Svankmajer), and The Exterminating Angel (Bunuel). The Exterminating Angel is also an opera by Thomas Ades, and you can see the Metropolitan Opera production on bluray.
If you’re looking for some underrated documentaries, Kanopy has some interesting options (as always!): Stations of the Elevated is a concert composed of city scenes and noises, Hamish Fulton is about an artist who takes inspiration from walking, and J.B. Jackson and the American Landscape spotlights one person’s development of a new field of study: landscape design.
Freegal always has some unexpected, weird music finds, including great lofi options, and some interesting electronic noise.
Finally, this youtube video introduced me to a genre of music I hadn’t heard of before, and discussed the nuances that go into classifying its subgenres.
Finding characters that go beyond the beaten path is almost always a pleasure in movies.
Actor Sean Penn directed the moving film, Into the Wild follows a young man as he goes through a journey of self discovery and a test of survival, through the backroads and wilderness of Alaska, based on the Jon Krakauer novel.
One woman hikes over a thousand miles alone to escape her past and discover something new in the powerful film, Wild with a wrenching Reese Witherspoon performance at its heart.
Three brothers begin a transformative train ride in Wes Anderson's comedy/drama The Darjeeling Limited which is both a visual and a musical exploration of India. Their journey begins on the train but they quickly go off the beaten path both physically and in their relationships with each other.
For the ultimate science fiction road trip, it's worth checking out director Wim Wender's epic vision. In Until the End of the World, a woman pursues a mysterious man across continents. The man has a device that allows the blind to see and bring dream images to life. Despite its running time, this is an amiable journey with visual and narrative surprises.
After some powerful journeys of discovery how about pure escapism from the novel of Jules Verne? 1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth features Oscar nominated visual effects and a likable cast finding the unexpected under the earth's core. The star wattage goes up a few notches though with Brendan Fraser's 2008 update and its unlikely but enjoyable sequel Journey 2: The Mysterious Island starring Dwayne Johnson.
In keeping with this week’s theme of going “beyond the beaten path,” we will be exploring some songs and films that, in my opinion, do an exceptional job of capturing the freedom, wonder, and personal growth inherent to travel, exploration, and discovery.
At over 9 minutes in length, the music video to Lana Del Rey’s song Ride includes a monologue (the album version is, unfortunately, sans monologue) that pays tribute to the open road and the self-discovery that is possible through travel. According to the concluding monologue, Del Rey’s wanderlust is driven by a desire to find “her people,” which she ultimately does find, via the open road. Her evocations of freedom are poetic through her extensive use of imagery and metaphor.
Allow yourself to be taken on a sonic journey that goes beyond the beaten path by listening now using your library card to access our robust eMusic catalog or check out her CD’s.
The Disney/Pixar film, The Good Dinosaur, depicts the arduous and emotional journey experienced by Arlo, an anthropomorphized Apatosaurus. After finding himself lost in an unforgiving wilderness, Arlo must find his way back home to his family. To do so, he must travel across lands unknown and uncover a source of strength that he may have never known was there. Other relatively recent Disney films that explore a similar theme are Moana and Finding Dory. However, rather than being derivative, I would argue that each story presents nuance in order to help enrich the viewer’s experience.
The song Fina Estampa by Peruvian singer-songwriter Chabuca Granda is a moving tribute to her father and the nature one finds while exploring on and off the beaten path. The lively rhythm in the ranchera version changes to a ¾ waltz and then back again throughout the piece, which helps convey a sense of movement and propels the listener forward in a shared journey.
I hope you continue to encounter something new and that you enjoy the process of learning, appreciating, and understanding the worlds that lie beyond the beaten path.
Seasons : A Journey into the Forests of Europe
From the filmmakers that gave us March of the Penguins and Winged Migration comes
a new film, that just might be their best yet. From the forest floor to the soaring
sky we are able to experience the magic of the hidden world of the forest. There is no
narration, the sound being only that from the forest and those within. A great gift to
behold, before our beloved forests are gone.
You just never know what will happen when you set out on a leisurely boat trip in the middle of a war. For Cary Grant, he answered a distress call and found himself sharing his small boat with a teacher (Leslie Caron) and her seven mischievous school girls. Very funny, sweet with a bit of romance thrown in.
Lonesome Traveler – A Collection of American Folk Music
Woody Guthrie had many tales of travel sung in song, and this album of "second takes" by Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and others is a collector’s gem. The original liner notes—which include lyrics for each song—write, "On re-hearing, the spirit of the performances was so good that Folkways felt that it would be a shame not to have its many friends hear them."
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
In 1995, the cult film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert won the Academy Award in this category.
International Feature Film0
Makeup and Hairstyling0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: The Farewell