Movies on your RTW



Stuart from casts a net into his mind and catches up with movies that mean different  things in different places 


Kickboxer in Bangkok
Many of you hipster kids might not believe this, but Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Belgian ex-pornstar with issues, currently advertising Coors Lite (a particularly tasteless American ale) was a pretty famous kick ass movie star in the late 80s and 90s. His films followed a format that, a bit like lego, plot-wise was interchangeable, and could be followed by a 6 year old. And often were. Still a guilty pleasure of mine whilst first-time backpacking in Thailand was catching up on JCs non-challenging oeuvre over a steaming plate of Thai Holy Basil Chicken and an ice cold Singha or two. I came to admire his kick ass moves, his non-acting acting and the way he always seemed to get the girl. But for me Jean-Claude Van Damme will always be synonymous with Bangkok 1990.


Braveheart in Arequipa
Now it's a little known fact that Sadaam Hussein's favourite film was Braveheart. You can kind of see it in his latter TV appearances, when holding a sword on high in public appearances and waving it with a small slightly shy smile; but it could be argued he lost out by not going with the full face painting malarkey. Still, deluded sociopath that he was, he obviously saw himself as the small guy (Scotland) against the real bastards everywhere (England). Which made watching Mel Gibson's masterpiece in a lovely old cinema in Arequipa in Southern Peru in 1996 really rather strange. As I walked out I was surrounded by wee lachrymose Andean folk. Everyone crying. So was the lady from of all places, Cheltenham, that I was with: And between sobs, they were all muttering Muy Bien, "Freedom" and smiling to each other. It was weird. Now initially I didn't think it was that good a movie but I've changed my mind. It is. With universal messages for your well-hanged psycho dictator and Peruvians alike. "You may take our lives, but you'll never take our freedom!". Plus never trust an English King. Or a dodgy pack of Scots Nobles.

Young Guns 2 in LA
A film filmed exclusively with annoying actors, a poor script and a truly diabolical (Oscar nominated) soundtrack. I suppose I did have jetlag, but I was truly excited. An original first-time Los Angeles experience - catch a drink and a late movie with my cool LA cousins. The drink was cool, the cousins cooler but really the movie was shite. I'm trying desperately to remember anything good about it. I can't remember one scene. My jaundiced feelings towards it veer between annoyance at the flabby script and direction, to anger at an opportunity missed. Still I don't blame Los Angeles for Estevez, Sutherland and Slater's overblown performance. If they've taught me one thing, it's life is too short for watching bad movies in the cinema. That's what DVDs are for.

The Hunt for Red October in Sydney

Now this is a not-bad film that's actually aged rather well. It's an odd movie truth that some books by complete nut-job right-wingers, can translate rather well into movies. This film came out after the fall of the Commies, but was written when the Iron Curtain was well and truly up. Still with a sharpish script rewrite and with some deft acting from Scotland's finest ever actor, Sean Connery, adopting an unusual Lithuanian accent with slight hints of Leith, whilst managing to turn in one of his best post-Bond performances, it works. Still twas odd walking out after into Sydney CBD, in the rain, for a quick fallafel (sub) whilst thinking about the deeper meaning of the Silent Submarine War in the Atlantic. Then realising there really wasn't one. And that sometimes, when far away from home, made-up submarine wars do seem all rather irrelevant. 

Killing Fields in Siem Reap

I'd read the books, watched the documentaries and the film before I first visited Cambodia. But I watched it again in Siem Reap at Smileys Guest House evening showing. It's a great and important film but it was sad. Truth be told I just can't think of another film so linked in with a country and its recent political history; to a point where it almost defines that country to outsiders. With the benefit of hindsight Phnom Penh might be a more appropriate city to watch it, maybe after visiting the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Prison here. But worth saying, again and again, Cambodia is a wonderful (and much changed) country worth visiting. And Angkor is still special.


by Stuart from