Monday, January 5, 2015

Case Study No. 1755: Walter Mitty

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - Trailer #1
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Trailer #1. Starring Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Patton Oswalt and Adam Scott. Enjoy!

Also Directed by Ben Stiller

Full Description
A timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams embarks on a true-life adventure when a negative goes missing.

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Tags: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Trailer The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Trailer Clip Ben Stiller Kristen Wiig Adam Scott ENTV Movie Clip Movie Trailer Walter Mitty Trailer Ben Stiller Movie Sean Penn Patton Oswalt patton oswalt movie
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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 2013 romantic adventure comedy-drama film directed by, co-produced by and starring Ben Stiller. Gore Verbinski served as executive producer.

This is the second film adaptation of James Thurber's 1939 short story of the same name. The 1947 version was produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by Norman Z. McLeod, with Danny Kaye playing the role of Walter Mitty.

The film premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 5, 2013. It was theatrically released on December 25, 2013 in North America.

Walter Mitty is a negative assets manager at Life magazine who daydreams of fantastic adventures and has a crush on coworker Cheryl. Walter works with adventurous photojournalist Sean O'Connell, whose work is highly regarded. Sean has sent Walter his latest negatives and a wallet as a gift in appreciation of Walter's work. Sean believes negative #25 captures the "quintessence" of Life and states that it should be used for the cover of the magazine's final print issue as it converts to online status. The negative is missing and Walter is forced to stall obnoxious corporate transition manager Ted, who is handling the downsizing. While viewing the other negatives outside Life's offices, Cheryl approaches Walter and suggests that he think of the negatives as clues to Sean's location. Together they look at three of them, including one of a person's thumb with a unique ring on it, and the other of a curved piece of wood. A third picture of a boat leads Walter to determine that O'Connell is in Greenland. Walter flies there to find him.

A bartender in Greenland explains that Sean left on a ship. To find him, Walter would need to go on the postal helicopter, and the pilot is drunkenly singing a karaoke version of "Don't You Want Me" in the bar. Walter recognizes the pilot's thumb with the unique ring and realizes he is on the right track. He at first declines to fly with the intoxicated pilot, but imagines Cheryl singing to him "Space Oddity", gains a new confidence and boards the helicopter. Nearing the ship, Walter learns the helicopter cannot land upon it. Walter misunderstands the pilot; instead of jumping into a dinghy boat nearing to catch him, he dives into ice-cold, shark-infested waters before being brought aboard.

Walter learns that Sean left the ship earlier. The crew offers Walter some cake Sean left behind. Walter discovers Sean's destinations in the wrapping paper. Walter's journey continues to Iceland, where Sean is photographing the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Walter is forced to abandon the search after receiving a text message recalling him to New York.

For failing to recover the negative, his first failure in a long career with the magazine, Walter is fired. He learns that Cheryl, who was let go earlier, seems to have reconciled with her estranged husband. Walter returns home discouraged, throwing away the wallet when he visits his mother. To his surprise, Walter recognizes the curve of the piano in his mother's house while looking at the last photograph. When asked, Walter's mom mentions having met Sean. She had told Walter before but while daydreaming he failed to hear her.

Walter discovers O'Connell is in the Himalayas, and finds him trying to photograph a rare snow leopard. When asked about the negative, Sean explains that the message to "look inside" was literal; the negative was in the wallet. When pressed to reveal the image on the negative, Sean dismisses the question and joins a soccer game with some locals. Walter flies to Los Angeles but is detained by airport security during a misunderstanding. Walter calls the only person he knows in Los Angeles: Todd Maher, a representative at eHarmony who has kept in contact during Walter's adventures.

While helping his mother sell her piano, Walter recounts his story, but mentions he does not have the wallet anymore. His mother says she always keeps his knick knacks and produces the wallet. An emboldened Walter delivers the negative to Life magazine, tells management that it was the photograph Sean O'Connell wanted for the final issue, and berates Hendricks for disrespecting the staff that made the magazine so honored.

Walter reunites with Cheryl and learns that Cheryl's ex-husband was only at her house to repair the refrigerator. Walter tells Cheryl of his adventures and admits that he does not know what negative #25 shows. Walter and Cheryl see the final issue of Life at a newsstand, with its cover dedicated to the staff. It is accompanied by the photograph from negative #25, showing Walter sitting outside the Life building, examining a contact sheet with an eyepiece. Walter and Cheryl walk down the busy city street holding hands.



After hearing through the family grapevine that the new version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is worth seeing, I caught it last night at LSC at MIT for free. What my family didn't tell me that I'll tell you is that the "real life" parts of the movie are completely different from the 1947 version's storyline. Instead, they deal with Life magazine shutting down and the transition the publication and its staff go through to begin entering the digital age. Sound familiar? Walter is a "negative asset manager," aka photo negative librarian/archivist—one of us news and photo librarians. Like many of us, he must figure out what to do next with his career and, well, life because of changes to the media industry and its downsizing.

Several scenes happen in the physical photo archive. I guess I gasped audibly when the characters entered that area the first time because I saw my companion glance at me. Levels of classic metal shelves in a common library architecture. Hollinger boxes. Memories.

I'm not a big Ben Stiller fan by any means, but I did enjoy the film, especially because I can relate to the plot line involving Walter's job. Going through another job transition, I've been pondering my own career path, where I've been, and what various changes might mean for my professional future. Someone recently asked me where I see myself in five years. Five years ago, I wouldn't have predicted I am where I am now. (But, amusingly, I may have just done a loop and ended up in a position that makes great sense based on where I was five years ago.) Where should I be in five years? Where do I want to be in five years? Sitting on a Himalayan mountainside photographing and observing snow leopards seems terrific to me, but quite orthogonal from where I am now.



As the holidays traditionally breed likeable trifles of many kinds, especially the most colorful and ingratiating, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, on paper at least, seems a suitable entry into the Christmas bounty of big films. Having made its world premiere as a recent New York Film Festival Centerpiece Gala selection, this broadly played and targeted fantasy-themed film now has the opportunity of meeting the real world during the fortuitous holiday period. But with a growing seasonal glut of so much choice and quality available to filmgoers (but often hurting filmmakers), significant success for Mitty may only be in its dreams.

The story unfolds in contemporary Manhattan, where Stiller's Mitty is a vet photo librarian at Life working the magazine's negative room housing its fabled photo archives. Although becoming an analog dinosaur, Walter's at peace with his job but struggles on the romantic front as the shy guy can't get to first base with work colleague Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), on whom he has a serious crush. But Cheryl, from the magazine's accounting department, does not elude Walter in his fantasies, including those where he plays superhero to her damsel, notably one in which fired-up dreamer shows Cheryl his heroism with a rescue in a burning building.

Walter's real-life recourse to find romance is the eHarmony website, but even as he's mentored by site advisor Todd (Patton Oswalt), he just can't get his profile right. But things are smooth for Walter on the home front, thanks to support from loving mother Edna (Shirley MacLaine) and kooky performance-artist sister Odessa (Kathryn Hahn).

At the office, matters turn radically grim for Walter after new corporate management imposes a transition to all-digital. Overseeing this initiative onsite is power-hungry new boss Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), a pushy, arrogant corporate jerk who becomes Walter's nemesis big-time. Our hero's fantasy battle with Hendricks above and through midtown streets is another of the memorable sequences.

Back in reality, Walter's problems escalate when Hendricks orders the archivist to find the negative for the ultra-important photo that will grace the cover of Life's final print edition. Walter scours the archive but cannot put his hands on it. His desperate solution is to travel the globe to find the picture's famed photojournalist Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn), who, helpful to the plot but not Walter, is an elusive adventurer always out shooting in remote locales.

Walter puts his many fantasies aside to take meaningful action. He journeys here and there to exotic destinations (Iceland, Afghanistan, etc.) to get his man and that precious negative. Details and twists ensue (a really neat one buttons up the film), yet anyone doubting a happy ending doesn't understand Christmas. But all undemanding fans of sweet, sweeping, romantic adventures in effects-enhanced dream worlds and faraway places will have a jolly time.

While bearing a clever concept (and handsome production), the film unintentionally challenges viewers at least once to distinguish between the hero's flights into fantasies and his real globe-hops in search of the star shutterbug.

Stiller previously hit solid bull's-eyes as director and star of Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, which provided some hilarious satire of the fashion scene and film biz. That level of humor is missing from Steven Conrad's script, although Scott as the imperious boss often tickles.

Mitty does provide some eye-pleasing and popping set-pieces in rough oceans and stunning terrains (Iceland ably stood in for many foreign locales). And it does deliver considerable measures of that feel-good, goodwill spirit of the season. But is all this plus Stiller's appeal enough to deliver box office?

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