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Wish You Were There: Reclaim Your Summer With These Cinematic Destinations

Five movies that bring back the joy of vacation getaways

Focus Features 08.07.2020
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Summer has always been a time to travel. As a kid, you were whisked off to summer camp. As an adult, you can take off for a day at the beach, a month in Provenance, or a season in the Hamptons. While it may not be possible to travel to your favorite vacation haunts this summer, it’s still possible to recall the fun of summer vacations from the comfort of your own home. We’ve pulled together five of our favorite films to transport you to foreign resorts, bring back childhood memories, and remind you what summer is all about—all without having to pack a single bag.

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Bob Balaban gives a tour of "New Penzance" for Moonrise Kingdom

1) Moonrise Kingdom | New Penzance Island

For all around summer fun, there’s no place better than New Penzance, the New England island on which Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom  takes place. The imaginary island sports a wilderness camp for budding Khaki Scouts like Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and a busy theater community which stages children’s operas like Noye’s Fludde. You can also lazily while away your afternoons reading library books and listening to records like Suzy (Kara Hayward) does in one of the island’s many charming homes like her family's Summer’s End. For adventuresome romantics like Suzy and Sam, the island provides plenty of wilderness hikes and hidden coves to run away to. In creating this wondrous place, Anderson explains how he didn't begin with “an idea of a character or characters and a setting, instead I was starting out with a feeling.” So many of us return to Moonrise Kingdom over and over again for the magical feeling the story invites, a sensation that The Atlantic describes as that “indolent yet enterprising texture of childhood summers, the sense of having a limited amount of time in which to do unlimited things.”

Get Moonrise Kingdom now on iTunes or at Amazon.

The official trailer for Wet Hot American Summer.

2) Wet Hot American Summer | Summer camp

For those who remember summer camp fondly, David Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer is the place to be. To conjure up the madcap goings on at the movie's Camp Firewood, screenwriters Wain and Michael Showalter drew from their own memories of having gone to summer camp. In making the film, they recreated those experiences. As Wain points out, "The line between being at summer camp and making a movie about it was very gray.” Renting out an actual summer camp, Camp Towanda, the filmmakers invited their very funny friends—including Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Bradley Cooper, and more—to join them. “We were really just kids in a crazy summer-camp candy shop,” Wain remembers. "Living out there in the woods in Pennsylvania, sleeping in the camp bunks.” For many, the filmmakers' camp spirit translated perfectly into a comedy riot on screen. For Newsweek’s David Ansen, the “gloriously silly romp made me laugh harder than any other movie this summer. Make that this year.”

Watch Wet Hot American Summer now on iTunes or at Amazon.

Official trailer for Swimming Pool.

Swimming Pool | A summer in Provenance

If you are looking for something more sophisticated and sunny with a touch of mystery, you might want to visit the South of France with François Ozon's Swimming Pool.  When the English crime writer Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) travels to the Provenance region to stay at her publisher’s summer home, she has no idea how quickly her real life will start to resemble one of her own dark mysteries. Intrigued by her publisher’s young, impish daughter (Ludivine Sagnier), the older Morton finds herself slowly slipping into sensations and fantasies she hadn’t experienced for years. Under the warm Mediterranean sun,  the film provides “a fine sunlit noir, oozing sensuality and menace," notes the Chicago Tribune.

Watch Swimming Pool now on iTunes or at Amazon

"You Found Me" clip from Phantom Thread.

Phantom Thread | Yorkshire coast

Want a romantic getaway? Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread offers a picture-perfect trip to England’s Yorkshire coast. At his London townhouse—which triples as his atelier, showroom, and residence—fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is all work. Only when he leaves the city does he open up. Not only does he find inspiration and solace wandering the bluffs of the North Yorkshire Coast, but at the Victoria Hotel in the charming village of Robin Hood’s Bayhe meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), the mysterious woman destined to become his muse, tormentor, and grand love. The brooding landscape inspired not only the characters, but the actors as well. To craft Alma, Krieps explains, “I tried to really empty her of all my knowledge of society and fill her with nature and sound and air, which was perfect in Yorkshire.”

Watch Phantom Thread now on iTunes or at Amazon

The official trailer of The Door in the Floor.

The Door in The Floor | The Hamptons

While the Hamptons are famous for their pristine beaches and A-list parties, Tod Williams’ The Door in Floor invites you to experience the summer getaway a little bit differently. “The Hamptons look and feel like the most seductive place in the world,” Williams notes. “And then it rots before your eyes.”  Adapted from a section of John Irving’s novel A Widow for One Year, the film follows the fractured lives of a children’s book illustrator (Jeff Bridges), his estranged wife (Kim Basinger), and a young man (Jon Foster) who comes to live with them. Both comic and deeply moving, the film is a perfectly orchestrated study in contrast. As The New York Times points out, while The Door in the Floor was “was shot in the sun-splashed Hamptons, the bright surface masks the depths of this family's sorrow.”

Watch The Door in the Floor now at Amazon.

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