Sunday, January 19, 2014
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Acting: Being one of my favorite actors, it's hard to find fault with Ben Stiller. I must commend him and Kristen Wiig for successfully tackling the more dramatic aspect of 'Walter Mitty' despite their rich comedic backgrounds. Naturally, I loved Adam Scott and Patton Oswalt. Sean Penn and Shirley MacLaine further cemented themselves as Hollywood legends.
Cinematography: The visual aspect of 'Walter Mitty' was stunning. More than just capturing New York, it also captured Greenland, Afghanistan, and Iceland beautifully. I don't know how they did it, but that cinematographer should do every movie ever. Yet, it also managed to capture the whimsical spirit of James Thurber's original short story.
Directing/Producing/Writing: Each of these can be attributed to Ben Stiller. He is a movie guru. His career is changing from what it once was and there is nothing wrong with that at all.
Music: This soundtrack should win every award ever. So many songs were perfect for the film. Space Oddity, Step Out, Dirty Paws, etc. I could listen to it forever. So whimsical.
10. Climbing Through the Himalayas: Walter joins a few mountain climbers from Afghanistan to climb through the Himalayas in order to find where Sean is. Entries in his travel journal appear etched across the screen. He offers Clementine Cake to warlords in the mountains and is able to pass through them. It culminates in a humorous scene where he learns he must now trudge through alone. This is where Todd, the eHarmony rep, calls Walter up again. 18,000 feet in the air.
9. Todd and Walter at the Airport: The first airport scene is also gold. When Walter runs past previous Life Magazine covers and then jumps on a plane where the Life motto is shown in various ways including a goosebump-filled takeoff. A new method of directing is produced when Walter's x-ray at Los Angeles International Airport is shown instead of the actual Walter. We see him promptly arrested and relying on Todd to bail him out of airport jail. The two discuss Walter's change over the course of the film over a Cinnabun.
8. Walter and Cheryl See the Final Issue of Life Magazine: Yes, this is the last scene of the movie, but it is also one of the most perfect. Ted (Adam Scott) realizes he had been a huge ass and decides to put Walter on the cover of the final Life with the title. "To Those Who Made It." So cool. Walter's reaction to the cover is perfect.
7. Riding the Bike Through Iceland: Walter quickly dashes to a nearby bicycle to the song, 'Dirty Paws' by Of Monsters and Men from the original 'Walter Mitty' trailer. Prompted by the ship captain shouting, "Stay gold, Ponyboy!" Walter pedals quickly through Iceland where he eventually finds himself talking to Todd, yet again, over the phone.
6. The Misadventures of Walter Trying to Go to Work: Charming music played in the background as Walter walked to the train station. There, he called Todd for the first time, but as he's talking, he promptly daydreams himself jumping off the railing, into an apartment window, running out with a dog, and then the building implodes. Cheryl calls out, "God you're noteworthy!" Snapping back to reality, his train has left the station.
5. Playing Soccer in the Himalayas: Walter and Sean join a soccer game just for the fun of it. Just to experience the human condition in other parts of the world. As the sun is setting on Afghanistan, Walter shows some secret skills on the plains as he runs around in celebration with his new friends and Sean O'Connell.
4. The Opening Scene: The first four of five minutes of 'Walter Mitty' were in complete silence. Not a single word was spoken, the only sound that could be heard was the rejection of Walter's attempted winks to Cheryl. eHarmony was not cooperating with Walter's tries. Not only was he torn about doing it, but the system wasn't working for him anyway. It's very humorous, especially Cheryl's likes and dislikes on her profile. Perfectly crafted scene.
3. Walter Mitty Skateboarding to Eyjafjallajökull: With directions and a recently traded for skateboard in tow, Walter showed off his old skateboarding talents as he maneuvered down a twisty road to a nearly exploding volcano that Sean was sure to be photographing at. The music is perfect and it is a life affirming moment as Walter touches the road as he passes by and then lifts his arms out in the air to catch the wind. Beautiful piece of cinematic magic.
2. Walter and Sean's Conversation: When Walter finally meets Sean, he is invited to sit next to him as Sean searches for the elusive "ghost cat" to photograph. It's actually a mountain lion, but still. There, Walter learns where photo negative 25 was and that it's no longer with him. Sean makes a few humorous remarks and then makes two great points on life. "Beautiful things don't call for attention," is one and then Sean chooses to not photograph the lion and instead stay in the moment. We never learn what #25 is, all we know is what Sean says to Walter when he asks. "Let's just call it a ghost cat, Walter Mitty." Awesome line.
1. Walter Jumps to the Helicopter: My absolute favorite scene in the movie. After Walter finishes an incredibly humorous scene with the drunken karaoke-singing helicopter pilot, he decides to not go with him on the helicopter. That's when he imagines Cheryl singing David Bowie's Space Oddity, a common theme throughout the film. Her singing makes him run out and jump into the helicopter as it's taking off. David Bowie and Kristen Wiig then both start singing as Cheryl stays on the ground and the helicopter takes off and flies over the ocean. Amazing moment.
Dare I say The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is my all-time favorite movie? Yes. Yes. It. Is.
"To see the world. Things dangerous to come to. To see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."