Saturday, December 28, 2013

I want to go to Iceland now.

Let us start by accepting the idea that Danny Kaye was an essentially perfect performer, and that the man who played Derek Zoolander was realistic enough to understand that there is absolutely nothing that he can do that Kaye couldn't do a thousand times better while also tap-dancing and reciting tongue-twisters.

In spite of the fact that Danny Kaye was better at everything than almost anyone still living, Ben Stiller's re-imagining of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a charming, engaging, and beautiful film that is well worth seeing.

The visual aspect of the movie is the most impressive part of the whole - there are stunning shots of oceans and mountains, beautiful framing of the actors to make everyone appear at their best, gorgeous use of light throughout, and startling visual juxtapositions that pop out and make you want to look at a scene three or four times to make sure that you saw all the details. The writing seems secondary to the visuals and that isn't really a bad thing - the characters are fairly quiet and unassuming while still being well-rounded and likeable (or unlikeable as the case may be) and it seems like this quiet bunch really doesn't need all that much dialogue to help them walk through the majority of the film. There isn't a ton of talking, and most of what needs to be said to drive the film is said by a leather wallet with the Life Magazine credo stamped inside of it: "to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed," is the goal of this film and its titular character.

There is also a delightful, if only expected, element of magic realism in the movie; I love magic realism and seek it out in literature but do not often find it in movies. In order to appreciate this movie you can't question the logic of it - don't ask how you get cell signal in the Himalayas, don't worry about the speed you need to escape a volcanic eruption, just accept the extraordinary as possible and enjoy the everyday magic that all humans are capable of - hope.

I'm pretty much okay with any movie that makes me want to be a better person, that reminds me who who I used to want to be and compare that would-be person to what I am. That's the real accomplishment of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It is not a great film, but it is a film which aspires to greatness and makes you want to try for greatness too.

1 comment:

  1. Danny Kate owns. Stiller still did a good job. Skateboarding looked great. Climbing the Himalayas without training, that's magical realism.