Sunday, January 5, 2014

Walter Mitty / Pandora Behr

When it comes to Christmas presents, I prefer to give experiences rather than gifts. Most of my friends have everything they need, most can buy what they want, so movie tickets or museum passes make great gifts for the people who have everything.

Friday night was my turn to give Blarney her Christmas present - a Gold Class screening to "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty".

I love Gold Class as a treat. A full recliner chair, food to eat, alcohol if you want it  - it's decadent fun that's good for special occasions. Blarney and I try and go to the cinema this way for birthday and Christmas treats. Her birthday is in February, mine's in August, so it goes down well.

Friday night's film choice was "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". The new Ben Stiller directed version, not the Danny Kaye classic. I knew that in going along, my friend Bernie would be a little cranky with me. Bernie is one of Danny Kaye's biggest fan and I could feel her scowling at me for being a traitor. Thing is, they're two very, very different films.

The current Walter Mitty is a "negative asset manager" at Life Magazine. A dreamer who zones out to live out his own daydreams at inopportune times, it follows the story of the hapless Walter as he has to track down the elusive frame 25 from an equally elusive photographer, Sean O'Connell. In the background, we see Walter's life, loving, caring son and brother and hopeless romantic.

Walter is a man who doesn't appear to deal with change at all well - at first.

Throw into this Walter's foray into internet dating and his phone friendship with the eHarmony guy which had me thinking - err, like global roaming rates - and you have a very enjoyable, very likable, visually stunning film.

There is so much to like in this film. As a bit of a Walter Mitty myself, falling into daydreams to make life a bit more exciting, taking out frustrations in the back of my head, living an alternative reality. What hits you from the outset is that Walter works for a company who's motto is  “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."

A bit of a square peg in a round hole is our Walter. Over the course of the film changes his life, going from the archetypal dreamer to somebody who embraces life in a huge way. Over the course of the film, he meets some wonderful characters. Sean Penn and the secretive photographer, Shirley McLaine as his aging mother, Kristen Wiig as the love interest - all really good stuff.

There is some true laugh out loud moments along with some lovely, gentle humour. You're with Walter the moment he meets corporate beard guy in wanting to go all Hong Kong Kung Fu movie on him. The scens in Greenland are genuinely funny. Empathy appears to be Ben Stiller's greatest gift in this film. 

Oh, and the soundtrack is great too. I found out that in David Bowie's "Major Tom" song he's not sitting on a Tim Tam, but floating in a tin can. And here I was for all these years thinking that Bowie was into Australian chocolate biscuits.

The message of the film - things change. And its amazing what you can do when you work through the fear and just do it.

Not so strangely, I had a tear in my eye at the end of the film, though I'm still trying to work out why. Stunning cinematography? Yes. Empathy for the situation of being in a world that is constantly changing. Maybe. The feeling of nostalgia for film camera - definitely. Appealing to my hopeless romantic side. Of course.

Then again, I can see a lot of myself in Walter Mitty. The unequivocal dreamer who at times feels like I'm waiting for my life to arrive.

I saw something in a new year blog the other day that resonated with me. Always have a bottle of champagne in the fridge there for celebrations.

I liked this thought, so on the way home from the gym I popped in at the bottle shop. In my defense, it was a third off, hence the calibre of the bottle. I blame Millie from Hold the Peas for getting me onto French Champagne. Lets hope I have things to celebrate soon. Preparation, inspiration, anticipation and a hint of gratitude are keys to bringing good things into your live.

The Champagne is now in the fridge waiting for good things to come and be celebrated.

I'm sure, out there somewhere, Walter is doing the same thing. 


Paula Judson said...

I love this review! Today I was talking to someone who had also seen this film and they didn't like it. They were really angry that they had also spent money on Gold Class and resented spending the time watching a film that they hadn't enjoyed. I read this book at school, so I think that my feelings would be similar to yours. And as for Bernie, what can I say! Thanks Panda!

Jackie K said...

From what I've seen and heard, I really relate to this movie. I'm a bit of a daydreamer and a "watcher" more than a "doer". And I love Ben Stiller. Nice review.
And yes - champagne has to be French. There's no comparison!

Elephant's Child said...

I have always loved Walter Mitty. And seen more than a little of myself in him.
I am not a movie goer, but perhaps... this time.
And I try and always have a bottle of bubbles in the fridge. Excellent for celebrations and sometimes to wash away a bit of pain.

Tracey said...

I love this new 'theme' of movie reviews. I am definitely going to see it. Good choice of champers. One of my faves. I like to keep a small bottle and a big bottle in the fridge - you never know how many people may be there for the celebration!