Movies Where the Place is the Star

CN Traveler provides a rundown on movies that inspire us to go see the world.
I keep my subscription to Condé Nast Traveler going every year, even though this reliably annoying magazine seems to be progressively more annoying to read every issue. (More on that later.) Besides giving me something to sneer at though, it also provides a gem or two each issue that almost makes it worth enduring all the fold-out perfume and fashion ads. The September Issue’s gem is their Top Films of the Year rundown.

travel filmTheir year is a fiscal one I suppose: from the summer of 2005 to the summer of 2006. What’s especially good about it though is that you can get pretty much any movie on there through Netflix. So you can just mark the ones you want, put them in your Netflix queue, then toss the issue in the recycling bin. Or wade through lots of page jumps and get it online. Also, for ones that have stood the test of time, check out their story last year on the best travel films of all time. Only their opinion, of course, but most of the obvious ones are there: Amelie, Lawrence of Arabia, The Beach, Dr. No, Out of Africa—good stuff.

As for the new round, some of them are admittedly popcorn pablum, but the writers says as much. In these cases, the setting is the star, almost making up for a lousy plot and hammy acting. Here’s a question though. With so many films being made on the cheap in places like Romania, Estonia, and Hungary, why don’t we see more films that actually take place in….Romania, Estonia, and Hungary? Or New Zealand films that are not some fantasy world—that are actually supposed to be in New Zealand? Probably a rhetorical question as I don’t think too many Hollywood power players read travel blogs…

So back to Condé Nast Traveler and what’s wrong with the state of magazines today. They are so desperate to please advertisers that they are willing to do almost anything to score another 10 pages of ads. This has always been true with fashion mags, where the content was secondary anyway, but the brazen practices there have hit the travel world full force now. In the September issue of CN Traveler, here are just a few annoyances that the humble reader has to put up with to actually read anything:

1) The cover is actually part of a fold-out ad for Omega watches and the cover shot shares a 2-page photo with the advertisement!

2) You have to go through 18 pages of ads to get to the opening page of the table of contents, then three more pages to get to the rest of the table of contents.

3) There’s an annoying thick Westin bound-in insert ad that the magazine keeps flapping open to.

4) There are “Passport” pages that assert to be “your guide to events and happenings around the world.” Really, whenever you see this Passport logo, it’s going to be a page of sponsor ads and nothing else.

5) There’s pull-out (well, fall-out) section on New York City, since it’s so hard to find information on where to eat and shop in New York City elsewhere, right? Ad pages: 14. Content pages (mostly product plugs): 17.

6) Long “Special Advertising Sections” that are meant to look like stories, but aren’t. They’re just fluff pieces written by PR people. One of these pseudo-content sections in September’s issue is 10 pages long.

Is it any wonder that magazine readership is dropping and that attention spans are getting shorter? It’s too damn hard to find and read an actual article. I won’t even go into the writing, but if you’re ever looking for something to do while waiting in the doctor’s office, pull out a pen and circle the word “hot” every time you see it. Even when it’s not “The Hot Issue,” that will keep you occupied for a while.

  1. Brian

    I think this is true of nearly all magazines these days. My girlfriend subscribes to 10 magazines. She is rarely able to get through them all when in reality the content is excruciatingly slim. The last GQ I read had almost 80 pages before the table of contents.

    One more reason to read targeted blogs where the signal to noise ratio is reversed…

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