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Non-Review Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Ben Stiller recently explained that he was growing more interested in directing and less interested in acting in front of the camera. Even if he hadn’t confessed that in an interview, it would be hard to shake that feeling while watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s beautifully shot and contains a number of impressive sequences and set pieces, but ultimately feels a little hollow – like a beautifully-sketched picture inhabited by two-dimensional characters.

There are moments of splendor and beauty to be found in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but often in spite Steve Conrad’s script rather than because of it.

Daydream believer...

Daydream believer…

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My Best of 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes & Hailing Caesar…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is number seven. Check out my original review here.

If you had told me last year that one of the best summer blockbusters would be a prequel to The Planet of the Apes, I would have laughed at you. Hell, I’m still chuckling a bit now, trying to get over how such a strange concept on paper managed to work so well. After all, a movie about a bunch of damn dirty CGI apes taking their share of the planet from us humans, led by a chimpanzee on Alzheimer’s medication, sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. And yet, for some reason, it works incredibly well. I’ll concede that the plot is a bit ropey, and the human characters are quite underdeveloped, but I think Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to grab its audience so well purely because it creates a fascinating and compelling three-dimensional lead character who we completely understand to and relate to.

Did I mention that the lead character is a CGI ape?

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Non-Review Review: The Game

The Game is perhaps something of a black sheep on David Fincher’s filmography. It wasn’t quite an early work like Alien 3, but it falls between two of his larger and better received works, Se7en and Fight Club. While it contains the same thematic depth which would define Fincher’s work (and continues to), exploring ideas like the nature of social interactions and the hostile world, it isn’t quite as readily accessible as most of his other work. From the outset, it’s almost as though The Game wants you to believe that it is just a set-up, that it’s rigged, that it will have a ridiculous and illogical conclusion, which makes it a difficult movie for the audience to engage with or trust. The Game hinges on the audience (and the central character) being unable to distinguish between the set-up and reality – effectively letting the audience know that they are going to be toyed with, and potentially alienating them. Which is a shame, because it’s a cleverly constructed little film which would be a lot more charming if it didn’t spend so much of its time informing you of how smart it is.

Quit clowning around...

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