Perhaps you have traveled extensively throughout Asia. Or maybe you have always dreamed of taking a vacation to Japan, China, or India. Whatever category you fall under, these five films showcase the joys and the perils of traveling abroad. If you can’t afford a trip to Asia this year, these films are the perfect antidote to help tide you over until you can visit the Far East. The following films take place in either Japan, China, India, or the Philippines.
Lost in Translation (2003)
An obvious choice, but worthy of inclusion on this list. Few other films about Westerners traveling in Asia are as skillful in their depiction of culture shock. Perfectly capturing the loneliness of travel abroad, the film is notable for beautiful cinematography that highlights the urban environments of modern Japan.
Shanghai Kiss (2007)
Despite it’s direct-to-DVD status, this low-budget movie has surprising depth. The plot follows Liam, a Chinese-American actor trying to find the place where he belongs between his life in America and his roots in China. The movie showcases the difficulties of Asian-Americans trying to feel accepted in the country of their ancestors after being born and raised in the United States.
Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Three brothers reconnect on a train journey across India in this Wes Anderson film starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman. The film is so vibrant, so moving, so perfectly framed, that you’ll find yourself ordering tickets on the next flight to India before you’ve even finished watching the film. If you’ve never seen it, wait until October 12th of this year, when the film will be re-released as part of the Criterion Collection.
Kiss the Sky (1999)
Two college friends, now in their forties, travel to the Philippines on business. Deeply unhappy with the directions their personal lives have taken, the two men decide to revert to the carefree, sex-filled, boozing lifestyle they shared in college. The film is sexy, but also thought-provoking, and well worth watching by anyone longing for their bygone college days.
Stratosphere Girl (2004)
When Belgian artist Angela falls in love with a Japanese DJ, she decides to move to Japan and make her living there. She finds work at a club for wealthy businessmen, and is swept up into some intrigue. The languorous camera work is supplemented with manga-style artwork, which foreshadows the ending of the film.