The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)


Ben Stiller returns to the directors chair with this remake of short story adaptation of the same name. If trailers could win awards (can they?) then The Secret Life of Walter Mitty would win hands down, but because of that it may have left some viewers disappointed. As for me, it was everything I thought and wanted it to be. I didn’t expect it to be deep or emotional, if there was something I knew it would be, it was fun. As for viewing experience it totally did it for me, this is my perfect film for those time’s I feel wanderlust or just bored with life. That being said, maybe with a bit more finesse and fine tuning of the characters and the development of the story, it could have been something really special.

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is just your average Joe stuck in a trance called life. Not the thrills of it but the repetition of it. Ironically Life magazine is where he works. He’s quiet, polite and in the shadows. Initially when first introduced to his place of work, we wonder how a man that works in such lively conditions could be as stuck as he is. Until we actually see where he works; a dark, cluttered space with only his subordinate as company. The film truly starts with a bang as we’re introduced to his first zone out while talking to an employee of a dating website. He spectacularly jumps off a bridge into a building window in order to bravely save the dog of the woman of his dreams (Kristen Wiig) before the building explodes. It’s a great opening, capturing just how imaginative Mitty can be, and honestly haven’t we all done that before? To get the synopsis out of the way, what finally encourages Mitty to take that leap of faith and live his fantasies is a lost negative, taken by loyal photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).

There’s a lot I love about this film, the cinematography, music, locations and characters. First of all Mitty is one of those guys that we can all relate to. He wants to get out and explore the world but just can’t seem to do it. Maybe he feels he’s past that time and now he should be sticking to other commitments like his job or maybe he’s just scared of what he might find. That’s where we can identify ourselves in him. There’s moments where we should feel sorry for Walter but we don’t fully give into it because we know he has it in him. Just like most of us we aren’t aware of our potential either until we truly test ourselves. I think as a character he’s someone you can easily care about which is important in films. All this is of course due to Ben Stiller’s honest depiction of him, definitely his best performance in a while.

I’d also like to mention Kristen Wiig’s performance, it was actually so refreshing seeing her play such a normal character for once. Usually she takes on these oddball characters with eccentric personalities and what not, but watching her just tone it all down for a more real character was quite pleasant.

The locations are absolutely stunning given justice by the cinematography. From start to finish the film is filled with great shots and smart transitions, utilizing the camera at its best. For an actor who stars in a lot of comedies with silly humor and story lines, he sure has an eye for a great looking film. Ultimately that’s what makes this film so entertaining. We’re absorbed in vast scenery and its lush colours, making us slightly envious of Mitty. As for the sound track, any film with Rogue Wave in it will be in my good books.

The only negative I would say about this film is the comedy. When intended to be funny it produced laughs from me and the people around me but I felt some of the jokes just didn’t fit the tone of the film. It’s such a minor thing but you can definitely see some of Stiller’s influence with certain jokes. I like his films and his brand of humor but in terms of the films overall tone, the more satirical and indie jokes fitted in more than the mainstream ones. To be honest it didn’t bother me that much, it was just something that I noticed affected the film a little bit.

I can understand why critics were so split with this film. In terms of emotional substance, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty doesn’t produce much of it. There’s quite a few avenues that could have been explored a tad more, like love, growth and the meaning of travel. They are definitely present but for those viewers hoping for a little bit more, they may be left disappointed. In my opinion I like how light hearted it is. I didn’t want it to have moments which would bring the film down, I wanted it to be fun and charming and that’s what it delivered. I had a smile throughout most of the viewing and I think that says a lot about how much of a feel good film this is.

Favourite Moments in Film (2013)

in review Since I’m still waiting to see the likes of American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, Lone Survivor, etc. Basically all the films that came out in December last year, I can’t make a legit top ten list because I know that some of those will be awesome. Of course those films may house a few more favourite moments for me but I can always add to the list. This is purely off the top of my head moments that stayed with me throughout the year.

Don Jon indulging in adult films.

I think I liked the skinny Joseph Gordan-Levitt better; this one scares me a bit. Every time that Mac startup sound would come on, we knew instantly to associate it with his “me time”. What would follow were scenes of porn stars getting it on and narration which gradually consists of denial. At first his train of thought is incredibly true to men and their expectations of women because of adult films, which for men would be a relatable thing to laugh about. As the film progresses and he becomes more aware of his overindulgence, the denial in his narration is quite genuine to addiction as he tries to justify his actions. It’s both funny and spot on. Honorable mention to Scarlett Johansson, just when I thought she couldn’t get any sexier.


James Franco and Danny McBride arguing about jizz.

Why is this one of my favourite moments in film? Because I find nothing funnier than sperm humor, I don’t know why I find it funny but I do. I was having a think about James Franco before seeing this film in the cinema and was wondering why there’s so much hype around him, yes he’s a sexy guy but he’s only starred in a few critically acclaimed films. After seeing him partake in a jerk off gesture battle with Danny McBride, I now understand why he’s awesome. “I will fucking come right on you! I will cum like a fucking mad man all over you McBride!”

Sandra Bullock’s spaceship getting destroyed by oncoming debris.

Having not seen the trailer for this film before watching it, I had gone in expecting 127 Hours but in space. Of course I left having experienced more thrills than I was expecting and it was awesome. That first scene where Bullock’s spaceship gets destroyed by debris was probably the most thrilling scene I had seen of the year. The realism in silence and zero gravity made for an edge of the seat opening with only the intense score and hard breaths of Bullock to be heard. From then on I knew it was going to be special and daym it was.


Villains of Franchise films.

2013 housed some of the best villainous quotes I’ve ever heard, therefore resulting in me reciting them whenever the opportunity arises. Michael Shannon went for intensity after his character General Zod was sentenced to a black hole for the murder of members of Krypton’s council and Jor-El.  Before being imprisoned in space, Zod makes his revenge plot very clear repeating that he will find Cal-El (Clarke), eventually letting out the most epic “I will find him!”; so good. Benedict Cumberbatch takes two of the most memorable quotes this year. One being from Star Trek: Into Darkness and the other from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Once escaping the Enterprise, Khan (Cumberbatch) negotiates a way to get his family back but in the most badass way possible leaving no leverage for Spock to play with. After telling Spock that he will walk over his dead corpse to retrieve his family he asks quite ominously “now shall we begin?” sends shivers down my spine. Lastly during one of the best cliffhangers of the year but ultimately most annoying endings to a film, an angered Smaug looks to make a point. As he flies towards Lake-Town with the intentions of destroying it and its people, Smaug growls “I am fire. I am death!” with no remorse; C’mon! Can’t end there.


Ryan Gosling sticking his hand in his mother’s womb (on screen).

Initially I thought “wtf”, actually during most of the film I was thinking that, but watching it again most of it made sense. After getting some perspective about the themes and what the film is ultimately about it became one of those most disappointing films turned surprisingly good films of 2013. Of course some of it is gratuitous but this scene seemed too deliberate to be meaningless. In the end I came across a comment about it and it made so much sense. Her womb was the only place Gosling’s character ever felt his mothers warmth, paraphrasing but that’s what the comment said. That perspective gave so much meaning to the scene, and what was originally kind of icky turned beautifully deep.

Emma Watson and her sexy tongue.

My main problem with The Bling Ring was that it didn’t have a clear message, especially when it seemed like a great opportunity to have one. All it did was tell these kids story in an honest fashion, but then I realized maybe that’s what the purpose of the film was. It lets us judge them for ourselves; we can either blame their materialism or the society they live in which encourages it. To make a film which judges them would not be fair but would also feel preachy especially when none of us really know them as people. I enjoyed the film but it didn’t do much for me emotionally. Nevertheless we get to see my celebrity crush Emma Watson act spoiled and dance sexy, therefore her cheeky tongue dance was one of my favourite moments in film this year (perv alert).

Dwarfs helplessly floating downstream in barrels while fending off Orcs.

I was in the cinema not long ago watching this and this scene was probably the most enjoyable scene of the year. Seeing one of the dwarfs bounce out of the river and roll down hill taking out Orc’s along the way, erupted excitement and laughter within the cinema; which only aided the hilarity of this masterfully crafted scene. It was what I was looking for in such a fantasy driven story and it delivered.

Sam Rockwell and his wisdom.

The Way Way Back was one of those films I knew was going to be good, yet it still surprised me. It’s such a simple film, nothing over the top happens and its simplicity is what makes it an endearing watch. We have relatable characters who we can root for and moments of humor which stops it from getting too serious. I loved the relationship between the kid with the lazy eye and his mother. We’re probably supposed to hate her for the jokes she makes but because it comes from the right place and humor is taken out of it, they’re probably the most lovable characters. Ultimately it’s that relationship that our protagonist is seeking from his mother. But my favourite moment is when Sam Rockwell tells the protagonist “you have to go your own way”, it’s such a simple quote, but something about the performance, the setting, the sun-rise, everything, hit me where it matters. I’ve watched this film twice now and that moment hit me with the same effect both times.

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch f*cking shit up on the job.

Prince Avalanche was one of those unexpected gems for me. It’s a beautifully shot film with a couple of hilariously charming leads. What ultimately won me over though, was its score, definitely my favourite score of the year. There’s one scene towards the end which explores catharsis at its most ultimate form. Getting drunk on the job and destroying all the equipment you have with the best background music you could ask for. I could watch that scene hundreds of times. It’s such a great way to bond, I gotta have a go at that.

Ryan Gosling turning from cop to gangster.

Bad guy: “You can’t shoot me, you’re a cop”, Gosling: “Not any more…” (BANG). Gangster Squad may be one of my most disappointing films of the year, but it didn’t fail to give you Goosebumps in the dialogue department. Yes it’s cheesy but we can’t say no to badassness. That scene was the epitome of badass, the defining moment of Gosling’s destiny in that film, there on out we are given a number of Gosling at his most intense. I mean that scene where he pours acid on that guy’s crotch, “where is it!!!” We also get to see Emma Stone at her most fabulous but I go on for hours about that. Ultimately my bias towards the cast is what made me like the film’s direction. If those actors weren’t there then maybe I’d think differently, nevertheless it’s fun and extremely entertaining. tumblr_m3s9ktyaW41qzhglpo2_500

Shailene Woodly, Miles Teller and their on-screen chemistry.

You won’t get many films as genuine as this. The Spectacular Now has one of the most realistic portrayals of teen romance I have ever seen; from the room introductions (always awkward) to the first kiss and the aftermath (also awkward). It’s as relatable as it gets and because of that you connect with the characters. This is all down to the brilliant performances of Shailene Woodly and Miles Teller who are just awesome in this film. It’s a film that takes you by surprise and forces you through a number of emotions. It starts off light hearted and fun then hits you hard with emotional substance. Watch it and you will be rewarded.

Runner Runner (2013)

runner-runner-review-photoRoze-Rating: 2.5 / 5

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) used to have a job on Wall Street until the economic meltdown forced him out of the business. To make his way back up to a high paying job again, he refers university students to an online gambling website to finance his masters degree. After getting caught and threatened to be kicked out of Princeton, Furst carelessly bets his money away on an online poker site with hopes of gaining enough winnings to pay his tuition fees. He soon discovers that he had been beaten unfairly and goes straight to the source to rectify it, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck).

Runner Runner was probably the longest hour and a half film that I’ve sat through this year, which says a lot. It’s disappointing as the film has a promising premise. The opening initially set up the potential for a decent flick but its intelligent characters ultimately didn’t fit in with the shallow narrative.

The film could have been genuinely thrilling as it had the ingredients for an explosive thriller. It had interesting characters and an uncommon premise. But the film feels bland as it has no particular direction or form of development. Ultimately it’s a film telling a series of events. What it needed was more emphasis on Richie and even Rebecca (Gemma Arterton), as the film covers the themes of greed and entrapment within the criminal world. They grow as characters but Runner Runner doesn’t even explore these themes or even the development of these characters. In the end we don’t really know who Richie is.

He’s obviously attracted by the prospect of high finance and because of that he doesn’t do the most ethical things. Although he believes in fair gaming in the business sense and is also a business wiz, yet we see him partake in immoral forms of business negotiations. There’s contradictions in his values because of money. So I was expecting some form of change from his character once sh*t got real, but only until he sees his life in danger does he change, but that’s a totally meaningless reason. The only meaningful moment in the film is when Richie’s dad tells him to leave him behind since he’s been a “dead man walking for 15 years”. That is the only defining moment where Richie realizes greed’s negative effect. But by that time, it’s way too late.

The only positive within this film is Gemma Arterton (duuh) and the locations. Both are stunning and sun kissed. The cinematography is colourful and glossy which make’s Runner Runner easy on the eyes. That being said we should have seen more of Arterton, not because she wears those dresses flawlessly (probably accounts for quarter of my rating) but because I think her character could have had a bigger impact on the story. Though it still would have taken more to improve this flick.