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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Review


One of those swoony American dramas that explores life in all its wondrousness, this film will quickly annoy more cynical viewers. But others will find it a warmly inspirational story about breaking out of our dull routines to live life fully. It's gorgeously shot and edited, but a rougher edge might have made it easier to identify with.

Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a daydreamer who manages photographic negatives at Life magazine. Not only is his job deeply redundant in the age of digital photography, but Life is in the process of being downsized by a corporate henchman (Scott). And as they prepare the last print edition, Walter is in trouble because he can't locate an important negative sent to him by an old-school photographer (Penn). So he turns to Cheryl (Wiig), a colleague he secretly has a crush on, for help. And he finally gets the courage to make his dream to see the world a reality as he travels to remote Greenland and beyond to find the photographer.

The film takes the time to set up Walter's fantasy life with superbly rendered effects sequences before sending him out into the real world. So we really feel the weight of these new experiences for Walter. And as a director, Stiller shamelessly punches every emotional note with vivid photography, surging music and wide-eyed performances. The problem is that the characters are never much more than cartoons, defined by one or two key traits. At least the actors all do the best they can to add resonant details.

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AFI FEST 2013 Presented By Audi - "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" Premiere

Stuart Cornfeld and Guests - AFI FEST 2013 Presented By Audi - "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" Premiere At TCL Chinese Theatre - Hollywood, California, United States - Thursday 14th November 2013

Stuart Cornfeld and Guests
Stuart Cornfeld and Guests

NYFF presents Walter Mitty

Stuart Cornfeld - The 2013 New York Film Festival Presents The Centerpiece Gala Presentation of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty at Alice Tully Hall NYC 10 5 13 - NYC, NY, United States - Sunday 6th October 2013

The Big Year Review

Even though it's rather corny and sentimental, this colourful comedy-drama holds our interest mainly because it's about a subject we'd never imagine watching a film about.

Brad (Black) is a birdwatcher who decides to do a Big Year, seeing as many birds as possible in 12 months, while holding down a full-time job and borrowing against his credit cards. Jetting around the country for rare spottings, he comes up against his record-holding nemesis Kenny (Wilson) as well as Stu (Martin), a corporate big-wig who has taken a year off work to follow his dream. But will their obsession with birding cause problems in their private lives?

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30 Minutes Or Less Review

There's no depth or meaning in this light bit of goofiness, but if you're in the mood for some random escapism, it's the kind of movie that keeps you chuckling. And often laughing out loud.

Slackers Dwayne and Travis (McBride and Swardson) are fed up with pressure from Dwayne's militaristic father (Ward), and decide to bump him off to get his money. They hire a hitman (Pena), but need cash to pay him, so they kidnap pizza delivery boy Nick (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank in the next 10 hours. He enlists his pal Chet (Ansari) and, with little time to spare, off they go. But of course nothing goes as planned.

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Tropic Thunder Review

Is it possible for a movie to be too "inside?" Can its farcical focus on the very industry that supports it have the ability to reach beyond the studios and the suits to become a memorable mainstream hit? That's obviously what Ben Stiller is hoping for with his new showbiz satire Tropic Thunder. As much an attack on the pompous and privileged stars that are the center of contemporary cinema as it is on the bloated and often unwieldy way they earn their keep, this may be the first popcorn comedy that plainly -- and repeatedly -- bites the hackneyed hand that feeds it.

For three Hollywood heavyweights, the film adaptation of Vietnam vet Four Leaf Tayback's (Nick Nolte) war bestseller is rapidly spiraling out of control. Action hero Tugg Speedman (Stiller) is having a hard time digging up the requisite emotion, while Australian Method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) actually has some "controversial" plastic surgery to up the authenticity. Pulling up the rear -- literally -- is fat funnyman Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black). After appearing in a collection of crude yet profitable comedies, the borderline junkie wants to go legit. Along with rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and bit player Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), these celebrities fall victim to Tayback and director Damien Cockburn's (Steve Coogan) scheme to add realism to the project. The plan? Take everyone into the Asian jungle and shoot it, guerilla style. The problem? A deadly drug cartel.

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The Ruins Review

Watch out, Martha Stewart! Not even your garden tools can stop the predators in The Ruins, a Hollywood adaptation of Scott Smith's novel. They aren't mummies, pharaohs, or cannibalistic tribesman, but killer flowers: They may seem innocent, but when reaching out to touch them, watch out for razor-sharp teeth and toxic venom.

No, this isn't a comedy like Little Shop of Horrors, but a shocking and disturbing experience that slaughters any comedic notions audiences may have after realizing they're watching a movie about killer flowers. Does the sight of a girl cutting herself open and pulling plants from her wounds make you cringe? Then prepare for one of the most unsettling horror films of the year.

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Blades Of Glory Review

Somewhere along the line, it was theorized that Will Ferrell as an athlete is inherently funny. Fortunately for Blades of Glory, which continues the sports farce oeuvre he began with Kicking and Screaming and Talladega Nights (and will extend with the upcoming Semi-Pro), that assumption appears to be correct.

Blades begins with the backstory of figure skating prodigy Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder). Plucked from an orphanage and given his last name by creepy entrepreneur Darren MacElroy (William Fichtner), Jimmy is groomed to become a champion. His only competition is the exquisitely named Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) who brings the swagger only a self-proclaimed sex addict can to the sport.

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Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny Review

If Tenacious D's lyrics are to be believed, then the two-man super group is the universe's greatest rock band.

Comprised of dueling acoustic guitarists Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the D fills albums with harmonious and ridiculously clever odes to their own awesomeness. Their rock operas would make excellent B-sides for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album. Indeed, the band belongs on a triple bill with '70s monsters of melodic metal Black Sabbath and Queen.

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Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny Review

If Tenacious D's lyrics are to be believed, then the two-man super group is the universe's greatest rock band.Comprised of dueling acoustic guitarists Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the D fills albums with harmonious and ridiculously clever odes to their own awesomeness. Their rock operas would make excellent B-sides for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album. Indeed, the band belongs on a triple bill with '70s monsters of melodic metal Black Sabbath and Queen.A feature-length comedy about Tenacious D's origin has been in development for years -- Black was spilling plot details to me in 2003 during our interview for The School of Rock. Now that I've seen the finished piece, I have no idea what took them so long.The Pick of Destiny script, credited to Black, Gass, and director Liam Lynch, appears to have been written on Taco Bell wrappers after late-night gordita runs. A stoner comedy, it imagines the leads as the next Cheech and Chong, mixing in a healthy dose of the Blues Brothers as the duo embarks on a musical mission from God (there's even a car-crunching police chase late in the film).Before they can achieve their destiny, though, the musicians need to pay their rent. Since guitar virtuosity is their only commodity, the D enters a local battle of the bands and hunkers down to write the world's best song. When a guitar tech (Ben Stiller) clues them in to the existence of a legendary guitar pick carved from Satan's tooth, Black and Gass hit to road in search of the dark inspiration.Without a legitimate story, Pick should take an instant stage dive, but the natural chemistry between J.B. and Kage keeps the film from stalling. They're an adorable couple, wedded in the church of unholy matrimony. And musically, the D can back up its boasts of supremacy. The film's best asset is the Pick soundtrack, a power-chord symphony backing up Black's stadium voice, which would test the rafters in vast amphitheaters.But there isn't enough plot to fill 90 minutes (there's barely enough to fill nine), so Pick stages flabby filler sequences involving ditsy sorority girls, a rainbow-surfing Sasquatch (John C. Reilly), and a Russian vagabond (Tim Robbins) determined to steal the pick of destiny for himself. Sure, the movie's half-baked. But there's a very good chance the audience is, as well.Consider yourself rocked.

Starsky & Hutch Review

How gratifying to laugh at a movie starring Ben Stiller again. Not just occasional chuckles, as in Duplex or Along Came Polly, but big, genuine, generous laughs. A solid, well-timed comedy can be such a relief; Starsky & Hutch is no more than that, but that's part of its charm.

This charm may not be entirely expected. After all, it is (1) an adaptation of a 1970s cop show, (2) arriving maybe a decade after the peak of seventies nostalgia, (3) assembled by director-writer Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School), whose previous movies were only funny to the extent that the actors could overcome his aimless, slapdash staging (Will Ferrell, no problem; Breckin Meyer, less so).

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The Fly Review

The most horrific aspect of David Cronenberg's version of The Fly is that it's a pretty earnest relationship drama. Not because the hindered courtship of girl reporter Geena Davis by scientist-fly hybrid Jeff Goldblum (what, did I give it away?) is embarrassing, like so many love stories pasted onto genre movies. Quite the contrary. The tension between these two characters - their moments of happiness and the botched science experiment that comes between them - is exactly what makes the film so harrowing.

Oh, and maybe also the brilliantly grotesque makeup by Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis, who won an Oscar for their efforts. But The Fly is never dependent on this impressive craftwork. Cronenberg doesn't skimp on his trademark gooeyness, but doles it out selectively. Creepiness finds other, relatively dry and goo-free places to emerge. A scene of Seth Brundle (Goldblum), after he unwittingly shares a teleportation trip with a common housefly, rising in the middle of the night and performing amazing gymnastic feats becomes unnerving as the camera lingers on a long shot of his spinning, soaring body. Veronica Quaife (Davis) looks on, silent and still, unsure of what to do; tension rises in the scene because of the characters, not just because you don't expect to see Jeff Goldblum doing flips on the parallel bars.

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Fast Times At Ridgemont High Review

What, you ask, is this movie of movies? This one which you've heard about? It's an eighties thing, with not much appeal for the modern troupe because its slower paced, less funny, than what you might see today. But, like a lot of eighties movies, it holds its own merit. This adaptation of the book by Cameron Crowe (don't know who he is? I'll give you a hint. He wrote and directed the famous line "Did you know the human brain weighs eight pounds?" That's right, the maker of Jerry Maguire and Singles) is a coming-of-age drama about a young girl making the choice all of us make, sex or a relationship.Sure, we tell ourselves that both can exist, and they can, but there is the line that she draws: if she wants to sleep around or if she wants to have something to hold onto. And the movie, in a nutshell, is about that. It follows her and her friends during their last year in High School in the small town of Ridgemont. Where each one of them ends up with their troubles, ranging from no girlfriend to an abortion to adultery. It sounds serious, right?That's not quite on target.The movie has its serious moments, but it has its funny moments too: from two girls practicing blow jobs on a carat at a lunch table to a guy cruising for chicks dressed in a pirate cap. The movie is sublimely funny. And interesting. It's very sad, in my mind, that those things are so rarely seen in the 90s.

Zoolander Review

In Zoolander, the world's most successful, influential and intellectually-challenged male model Derek Zoolander wonders, "Is there more to life than being really really really good looking?" Obviously, the film's creator and star Ben Stiller asked a similar question when crafting a feature-length movie out of his hilarious VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards short-film subject: Can there be more to this film than being really really really silly? No, of course not, and it never aspires to be anything more.

Much like Derek, Zoolander is a sweet simpleton of a movie. It's not complex in either its social commentary or its comedy, and it never produces any gut-busting laughs (except maybe a scene when Derek's model roommates all die in a tragic "gasoline fight" accident -- a riotously funny take-off of Tommy Hilfiger ads). But it has a satisfying handful of strong chuckles, wild characters and performances, and mildly harsh potshots at the fashion industry to keep you amused. Better yet, this exaggerated version of the original three-minute skit is only blown out to an efficient 95 minutes -- just enough time to string together its goofball plot without exhausting the gag.

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Duplex Review

You've seen the funny trailers and are so encouraged by Ben Stiller's presence that you're certain Duplex will prove itself to be a latter-day Meet the Parents.

I feel for you. I thought the same thing. But it's only a few short minutes into Duplex when you realize just how wrong you were. Two things clue you in to the lackluster experience to come. First is an animated pre-credits sequence that shows a cartoon Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore haplessly looking for a home. One knee-slapper vignette even puts them in a shack in the Sahara desert! Man, that's funny!

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