FILM: THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
CAST: BEN STILLER, KRISTEN WIIG, SHIRLEY MacLAINE, ADAM SCOTT,
KATHRYN HAHN, SEAN PENN, PATTON OSWALT
DIRECTOR: BEN STILLER
A Walter Mitty is an ordinary person given to adventurous daydreams far
grander than real life.
No one really knows the power of the private dreams inside our heads
until they inspire our reality. That’s what happens in Ben Stiller’s
contemporary rethink of one of the most influential fantasy stories of all
time – indeed the typical tale about the irresistible allure of fantasizing:
James Thurber’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. Stiller has taken that
two-and-a-half page 1939 classic and opened it up into a 21st Century
comic epic about a man who finds that his real life is about to blow his
wildly over-active imagination out of the water.
This Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a modern day-dreamer, an ordinary magazine
photo editor who takes a regular mental vacation from his ho-hum
existence by disappearing into a world of fantasies electrified by dashing
heroism, passionate romance and constant triumphs over danger. But
when Mitty and the co-worker he secretly adores (Kristen Wiig) stand in
actual peril of losing their jobs, Walter must do the unimaginable – take
real action, sparking a global journey more extraordinary than anything he
could have ever dreamed up.
For Stiller, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ offered a rare chance to look at
a touchstone American tale afresh, from a modern times perspective. Way
back in high school, he first encountered Thurber’s story – a story that
almost as soon as it had been published in The New Yorker began making
an impact that belied its ultra-brief length. It inspired a beloved 1940s
screen comedy, numerous theatre works, and sealed the phrase “he’s a
Walter Mitty” into the popular lexicon, referring to anyone who throws
more energy into diverting daydreams than into real life.
“What I love about this story is that it can’t be categorized,” Stiller says.
“It has comedy, it has drama, it’s an adventure story, it’s real and it’s
fantastically hyper-real. Yet at the heart of it all is a character who I think
everyone can connect to – someone who appears to be just going throughthe motions of modern life, but is living a whole different life inside his
head. To me, he embodies all those things we imagine about ourselves
and the world but that we never say.”
The film lovingly winks back at the great American humorist Thurber’s
timeless fable about a mild-mannered man’s need to turn his failures into
something far more astonishing in his head. But Stiller’s Mitty is very
much a man of our times. Like so many of us, he feels hemmed in by an
increasingly depersonalized, electronic world that is rapidly changing
everything – one that is making his very way of life obsolete. His only out
is a madcap barrage of reveries that keep him a constant hero battling for
a better, fairer world. It’s his own private realm he shares with no one that
is, until his search for a famous photographer’s (Sean Penn) missing
negative gives him an unexpected chance to connect with another.
“Steve’s script wasn’t trying to revisit the 1940s Danny Kaye classic,
which was so wonderfully unique to its time. He found a different way of
telling the story, one that was smart and compelling but that created a
modern context for this character that audiences can relate to,” says
CAST: CHLOE RACE MORETZ, JULIANNE MOORE, JUDY GREER, PORTIA
DOUBLEDAY, ALEX RUSSELL, GABRIELLA WILDE, ANSEL ELGORT
DIRECTOR: KIMBLERY PEIRCE
A re-imagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz),
a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother
(Julianne Moore), who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being
pushed too far at her senior prom. Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen
King, Carrie is directed by Kimberly Peirce with a screenplay by Lawrence D.
Cohen and Roberto Arguirre-Sacasa. Aggressively sheltered at home by a
domineering, ultra-religious mother, and tormented by her peers at school,
Carrie’s efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.
Thanks to King’s storytelling mastery, her name is now synonymous with painful
repression, bloody humiliation and even bloodier revenge, but her origins are
steeped in an empathetic writer’s keen observations about adolescent life.
Inspired by two real-life outcasts from his high school days – one lonely girl who
was ostracized due to her parents’ religious beliefs, the other peer-persecuted
for coming from enormous poverty – King envisioned a pitiable, misunderstood
composite teenager on the verge of adulthood who might not be readily likeable,
but who could form the centre of a gripping emotional narrative.
Key to making such a project work is, naturally, the right director. It’s what led
MGM’s Jonathan Glickman to approach Kimberly Peirce to helm the thriller,
finding that his instincts about her suitability were spot on. Given her previous
films (‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Stop-Loss’), MGM and Screen Gems also were
confident that Kim had the right sensibility and skill to bring the new ‘Carrie’ to
life. Next, Glickman approached producer Kevin Misher to shepherd in a fresh
adaptation of King’s classic novel.
Misher mentions, “What’s interesting about Kim directing ‘Carrie’ is she feels the
experience of the lead character in a way that makes it more real, more unique,
because Kim is very interested in the experience of the outsider. She’s looking to
see emotionally, contextually and specifically how a character interrelates with
their environment when they don’t feel like they fit into the environment.”
Regarding the films’ continued resonance, Misher says: “The issues that it
explores – even though it’s a pop, horror, psychological thriller of a novel – what
it does is actually explore how teenagers relate to their environments as they’re going through their own personal experience of evolving from youth to adult, and
that’s relevant anywhere. It’s really a coming-of-age story about a young girl.”
Peirce was more interested in being true to King’s original story than trying to
recreate a legendary director’s version of it. “What I wanted to capture was the
essence of Stephen King,” says Peirce. “I went back to King’s characterizations of
Carrie, her mother, and the girls, and to Carrie’s response to being bullied. Carrie
is a misfit and an outcast who, like most of us, longs to be loved and accepted.
When she discovers she has special powers, she feels hopeful about her
existence in the world and the fact that there may be others like her. I loved