I just spent a few hours writing a guest blog post for Speculative Chic (link as soon as it goes live), which got me thinking about movies and books and music I love and why. I think I am going to start a “favorite things” tag. I might as well start with this one, since I am still trying to sort out why I love it so much. I might as well bullet-list it up!
- Ben Stiller is an astonishingly subtle actor. I have always said a great comedian is the best actor there is: to be funny, you have to do everything else well, too. His Walter Mitty is like the best sort of watercolor: the tints are transparent; the paper glows beneath. The first time I saw the skateboarding scene, I cried so hard with satisfaction that I missed the really sexy hand-assisted slides.
- Walter Mitty is also truly beautiful to look at: the sea-ice color of his eyes, the grizzling at his temples, the dignity of his aquiline nose, the delicate crows’-feet settling like linen dropped to the floor and forgotten. I mean, Ben Stiller is beautiful, too; but there’s a vulnerability to Walter that takes everything Stiller has and turns it luminous.
- Oh, the production design. Just a couple of tiny details to represent the general amazingness of it. Walter’s apartment is the same colors as the world he will eventually find himself in: white and pale blue-green and black and gray, all lit with a pure cold Northern white light. So are the Life offices — though darker, stormier, busier. But the New York outdoors is the opposite: warm colors, sunny skies, bright red-brick townhouses, and full-leafed trees.
- “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
- Iceland is never the wrong decision.
- The sincerity of the movie. It never winks at the viewer, the way the Danny Kaye version did — or every other movie in recent decades. It is not sentimental, but it is not afraid to break its heart.
- Despite Walter’s adventures, this is an intimate story about what it means to be human and especially, to be middle-aged after reality has clamped onto your leg. Which is harder, jumping onto a helicopter or clicking Wink? Which is scarier, sharks or layoffs? Which is more unlikely, TSA detention or reaching through the internet and finding a friend? If you can survive the one, surely the other will not be so hard.