Ben Stiller’s remake of a 67-year-old film is his strongest attempt yet to move from full-on comedy into heartfelt drama.
His fifth outing behind the camera, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (PG: Twentieth Century Fox), is a glossy adaptation of James Thurber’s short story, but a far cry from the beloved musical comedy starring Danny Kaye.
Stiller’s Mitty remains a man who daydreams about adventure while trying to hold on to a dreary job.
Only here he works for Life magazine so when redundancy looms, and with encouragement from secret object of desire Cheryl (Kirsten Wiig), he decides to go in search of globetrotting photographer Sean McConnell (Sean Penn).
His humdrum fantasies become exciting reality in a surprising mix of of sentiment and profundity.
Highlights include an impressive skateboard scene and Penn taking the mickey out of himself again.
Beautifully shot and incredibly ambitious, the film demonstrates that Stiller is well on the way to proving himself as a serious director.
> Daniel Radcliffe gives a mature performance in fact-based drama KILL YOUR DARLINGS (15: The Works), putting more clear water between himself and Harry Potter.
He plays Allen Ginsberg, who joins a circle of radical artists and is embroiled in a case involving the stabbing to death in dubious circumstances of one gay man by another.
The group also involves William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Ginsburg faces a difficult choice when firebrand Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) is charged with murder.
The title derives from a college professor’s recommendation that, if our young wunderkinds really want to write revolutionary poetry and prose, they should toss aside all the old lovey-dovey stuff. It’s certainly more self-aware and less self-indulgent than other recent films which also sought to capture pivotal moments in the 1940s and 1950s Beat movement.
> ALL IS LOST (12: Universal) tells the single-character story of a solo sailor (Robert Redford), far out in the Indian Ocean, whose yacht sustains a hole after a night-time collision with a shipping container.
The ensuing drama begins slowly, with the clearly experienced yachtsman patching up the damage and sluicing out the water, but when a massive storm hits, things become deadly serious.
The film has next to no dialogue and rapidly becomes a gripping series of set-pieces, with the stoic Redford tossed around like a rag doll as he clings defiantly to life.
If you’re tired of superhero movies, this is the perfect antidote and a terrifying reminder of the world’s natural dangers, as well as a homage to man’s survival instincts.
> Israeli drama FILL THE VOID (U: Artificial Eye) offers a rare glimpse into the secret lives of the Orthodox Jewish community.
A woman from a traditional Hassidic family dies in childbirth, leaving her husband to raise the baby alone.
His wife’s parents decide it would be best if he remarried as soon as possible.
So they try to force their unwilling younger daughter into an arranged marriage so that she can be a mother to her newborn nephew.