“It is filled with gorgeous visuals, creative ones that draw a world of deep mysteries that its characters do not understand, populated by creatures that slink out of myth without any attempt to categorize them into neat little boxes of explanation. The movie portrays a deep world, the sort that you imagine any number of stories could emerge from.
It’s a nice little story, one that focuses in on a more personal story, on the story of men who take up arms in order to set things right, without hampering the story with the fantasy movie insistence on making every story about preventing the end of the world. And the alien nature of feudal Japan is a refreshing setting. This is not Japan on the decline, the last gasp of the samurai, and it’s not the typical movie version of feudal society that gets updated to reflect our modern sensibilities.”
Steven Lloyd Wilson
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty shouldn’t really hang together. Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, written by Steve Conrad, and based loosely on the 1939 short story by James Thurber (and following in the footsteps of the 1947 film version starring Danny Kaye), the film is an often wild assemblage of tones and ideas. Some of the fantasy sequences that play out in Walter’s daydreams are choked with CGI and tiresome in their plasticity, yet others are simple and perfectly executed glimpses into the character’s psyche. Some of the plot twists feel absurd even for a comic road movie, yet the acting within individual scenes is enough to keep the ground under your feet one step at a time. The film has a habit of falling back on existential revelation through scenery changes, yet what else should we want or expect from a story about a man who learns to embrace life’s possibilities while traveling around the world? And it’s occasionally sentimental to the point of being a little corny, but crucially, you never get the sense that Stiller’s trying to pull one over on you. The characters aren’t mocked for wanting to be loved, or to do good work, or to connect with one another, and there’s no sense of irony or distance between Stiller’s presentation of the film and its effect on the viewer. The film skates between meditation and slapstick, aiming for — and mostly achieving — a kind of fragile wistfulness that works in the moment, even if it’s a little fleeting after.”