Apr 22 2014
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
James Thurber’s original short story of this name took place almost entirely inside a supermarket, where a mild-mannered man has vivid daydreams in which he performs great, heroic deeds. In the years since, the name ‘Walter Mitty’ has been co-opted by any number of professions to describe delusional fantasists. If a guy turns up at a fresh crime scene and falsely claims to be CID, that man is a Walter Mitty.
With this title, writer-director Ben Stiller takes a different tact, recasting Walter as a mild-mannered employee of the famed photo-journal Life Magazine. Facing its very last print edition, the daydreaming Walter finds himself going on a real adventure to track down a photographer (Sean Penn) and recover picture that’s intended as the magazine’s final cover.
Working with Kiwi cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh, Stiller has created a wonderfully lush film that variously set in Iceland, New York and the Himalayas. With a cast that includes Stiller, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott, you’d expect a knockabout comedy like Zoolander, perhaps; instead this is a breezily uplifting piece of magical realism, not entirely unlike Forrest Gump.
Released in the States as Pawn Shop Chronicles, this ensemble comedy centres around one such establishment, mingling three storylines that involve various outlandish characters. A newlywed groom discovers his missing first wife’s wedding ring, which sends him on a mission to find her; a low-rent Elvis impersonator arrives in town to play a county fair; and a pair of neo-Nazis hatch an ill-conceived plan to knock off a drug supplier.
The most remarkable thing about this film is its quality cast, that includes Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon, Norman Reedus (Daryl from The Walking Dead), and the late Paul Walker in one of his final performances.
All is Lost
Plot-wise, there isn’t much to talk about in this film. In fact, it features almost no dialogue whatsoever. We find Robert Redford completely alone, on a crippled yacht in the middle of the Ocean. Pared down to its essential parts, this film is basically Life of Pi without the tiger, or Cast Away without the island and the volleyball. It’s a tense and moving survival story that features an impressively physical performance by the 77 year-old Redford. (Yes, we know there are stuntmen – but still…)
Director JC Chandor, who previously made the Wall Street drama Margin Call, is quickly shaping up to be one of America’s finest young directors. Whatever he’s making next, we’re going to be there on opening weekend.
Child of God
The phrase ‘written, starring and directed by James Franco’ is likely put you ill at ease, especially if you’re one of those vocal Francophobes floating around internet comment boards. However, the phrase ‘based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy’ is more likely to intrigue and delight you. After all, McCarthy’s brand of gritty Western nihilism has already translated into great films like The Road and No Country for Old Men.
The film tells the story of Lester (Scott Haze), a man who attempts to live outside of society and descends into a moral chasm that involves murder and necrophilia. Lovely.
This film earns its hard 18 Certificate, so be aware of this before you make your purchasing decision.