The Best and Worst Movies of 2017

This isn’t particularly travel-related, but since I’ve been seeing a decent amount of movies while on the road, I decided to put together a video of the best and worst movies I saw in 2017.  I’ve been doing this for the last few years, so I figured I may as well keep it going.

I Want it All

Star Wars Store in Tokyo, JapanThere’s a whole store in Tokyo dedicated to Star Wars stuff, and it’s pretty much the best.

Star Wars Store in Tokyo, Japan

I think it’s just temporary, sadly — a promotion for the newest Star Wars film,  The Last Jedi.

Star Wars Store in Tokyo, Japan

All the more reason to buy everything.  Immediately.

Star Wars Store in Tokyo, Japan

All this stuff?  I want it.

Star Wars Store in Tokyo, Japan

Yeah, that too.

Star Wars Store in Tokyo, Japan

Movie Overload at the London Film Festival

BFI London Film FestivalYou wouldn’t know it from this blog, but I’ve actually been in London for the last couple of weeks — I had a fairly substantial backlog of posts that I’ve been working through.  Which is a good thing, because up until a few days ago I was doing pretty much nothing but watching movies at the BFI London Film Festival and then writing about them.

I saw 37 movies at the festival, and wrote about 35 of them.

The best film I saw?  Brawl in Cell Block 99.  It’s a gritty, ultra-violent ’70s-inspired prison thriller featuring an absolutely electrifying performance from Vince Vaughn (if all you know him from are his silly comedies, prepare to have your mind blown).

The worst was, surprisingly enough, Manhunt.  This is John Woo’s return to the type of action movie that made him famous, and it was surprisingly awful.  Please don’t watch it, unless you want to be sad.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum!

Arnie museum!I think everyone can agree that Austria’s greatest gift to the world is the fact that it’s the birthplace of the greatest movie star of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  They’ve converted his childhood home into a museum; as soon as I found this out, I knew a stop in Austria was a must.

(Yeah that’s right, literally the only reason I’m visiting Austria is to see the Arnold Schwarzenegger museum.  I am, however, going to go to Vienna while I’m here and see all the usual touristy stuff — I’m a weirdo, but I’m not that much of a weirdo.)

Middle of nowhere

I’m staying in Graz, but the museum is actually in Thal, a small village that’s close enough that you can get there by city bus.  It actually requires two different buses — and then you finally get there and you’re kind of in the middle of nowhere and you’re wondering if you’re in the right place.  Then you see this and you realize that yeah, it’s definitely the right place.

Arnie boat

So you walk a bit, and when you finally get to the house, you absolutely can’t miss it.  There’s this:


Not to mention a big statue of Arnie flexing in front of the house.

Statue flexing

The “museum” (it’s really just a few rooms that you can see in about 15 minutes) is small and kind of underwhelming, but as an Arnie fan, it’s still absolutely worth a visit.  There’s something special about being in Schwarzenegger’s actual childhood home.

You can see the bed he slept in.

Arnie's bed

Some of his first bodybuilding equipment.

Bodybuilding equipment

Props and costumes from his movies.

Motorcycle from T2

Not to mention a painting that I absolutely need to hang up in my house.

Greatest painting ever?

You can probably give the museum a pass if you’re not an Arnold Schwarzenegger superfan, but then aren’t we all Arnold Schwarzenegger superfans?

Touring Cinecitta

CinecittaFor the unaware, Cinecitta is the legendary Italian studio where directors like Federico Fellini and Sergio Leone made a bunch of their films, not to mention big Hollywood productions like Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday, and Gangs of New York.

For 20 Euros, you can check out some nicely-assembled exhibits, and you can take part in a guided tour around the studio.  It isn’t exactly cheap, but if you can’t forget about the budget every now and then for something like this, what’s the point?


The highlight was probably getting to see the set of the short-lived HBO show Rome (that’s a great show, by the by.  It was, sadly, ahead of its time — it feels like a precursor to Game of Thrones in a lot of ways).


They have a few other sets that you can see, including, randomly, a bit of the submarine set from U-571.

U-571 set

It was actually a pretty interesting tour; even aside from what we saw, just being in the same space that saw the production of so many great movies is kind of electric.

The Worst Kind of Twist Ending

At the moviesSince I began my travels, I’ve gone to a few movies. Now, I know what you’re thinking: you traveled halfway around the world just to go to the movies?? Well:

  1. Going to the movies is a huge part of my life. Always has been, always will be.
  2. When you’re walking around all day in the heat, there comes a point — usually around 3:00 or 4:00 — when you just wanna sit down in an air conditioned room for a couple of hours.
  3. Don’t judge the way I live my life, man.

I noticed that Wish Upon was playing here in Madrid (for the unaware, Wish Upon is a cheesy horror movie that kinda flopped in the States and didn’t even bother to come out in Canada). Being a fan of cheesy horror movies, I got more excited about this than I should probably admit.

The theatre where it was playing turned out to be on the outskirts of Madrid, so getting there was a bit of a challenge — it involved multiple transfers on the subway.

So confusing

An aside: trying to navigate the Madrid subway system is a baffling ordeal. Being from Toronto (which has, what? Two subway lines? Three?) my brain can hardly even comprehend the Madrid metro’s labyrinthine, multicolored spiderweb of about a dozen overlapping lines. It’s nuts.

So I’m at the movies, the trailers start, and I immediately notice that the English has been dubbed over in Spanish. “Huh,” I think to myself. “That can’t be good.”

And no, it was not good.  I just came from Portugal, where almost all English-language films (with the exception of cartoons) are presented in their original language and subtitled in Portuguese. I sort of figured I was in for the same deal here.

It turns out Portugal is the outlier in this situation; apparently the majority of Europe plays dubbed movies.  So that’s just delightful, obviously.  Thankfully, it is still possible to see undubbed movies — they’re just not as common.