Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is Straight Out of the Imagination

Ben Stiller is almost always hit or miss for me.  Sometimes he knocks it out of the park and other times his roles feel forced or too artificial.  That is not the case in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  The film was spectacular and was laugh out loud funny with imaginative explosions that keep the viewer questioning reality.  Walter is someone all of us can relate to.  Literally everyone who has ever worked a boring 9-5 and yearned for more can relate to Walter’s bouts of severe daydreaming and his constant desire to live a more exciting and fulfilling life.  Ironically employed by LIFE magazine, Walter works in the dark basement photo department meticulously cutting, trimming, and organizing the magazines photos as their negative assets manager; a very important job which goes completely unnoticed by the corporate big wigs upstairs.  Walter constantly imagines himself in distant lands on crazy adventures or wooing the girl of his dreams (played by Kristin Wigg) by scaling frozen mountain peaks or saving the day from certain destruction.  And yet he is always brought back to reality by whoever notices Walter “zoning out” and staring off into space (which happens often).  His life takes an unexpected turn however when he receives a packet of photos from famed photojournalist Sean O’Connell who informs him that negative #25 captures the “quintessence” of life and should be used for the cover of the magazines upcoming final print issue.  The only problem is that #25 is missing and Walter knows that it will mean his job if he can’t locate it.  Walter assumes the only way to find the negative is to find Sean, his adventurous hero who he’s gotten to know purely through his letters and photos.  Walter uses clues from the other negatives and embarks on a journey to find Sean.  Along the way he ends up doing what he has always dreamed of, living life to its absolute fullest.  Breaking out of his comfort zone and taking risks for the first time ever Walter realizes that his dreams are not so out of reach and that life can truly be as magical and awe inspiring as he’s always imagined.  Everyone who watches this film will no doubt see some of themselves in Walter Mitty.  We can all relate to wanting more out of life and wishing we could take off to far corners of the world on crazy adventures.  What makes the movie so special is that Walter decides to just do it.  He pulls the proverbial trigger and makes us all believe that we can make our dreams come true.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This Morning's Commute

Some songs from this morning.

1. Come Original - 311
2. Flipside - The Breeders
3. Land of Treason - The Germs
4. The Gambler - The Both
5. Bigshot - The Pack A.D.

Best New Artists for May 2014

5 Best New Artists for May '14Every month Spin releases its picks for the 5 best new artists to watch and this month its a mix of folk pop, art rock, and hip hop which all offer a sense of nostalgia in their music while still remaining fresh and modern.  The emotional and raw songwriting of Broken Twin and the Pere Ubu like noise rock of Dub Thompson have peaked my interest.  Mostly because I love hearing people sing earnestly and intensely and I can't remember the last time a new band was compared to Pere Ubu.  Also on the list are folk inspired Greg Give Peter Space (love the name), classic Detroit inspired Kaytranada, and hip hop crew The Outfit TX whom spin compares to Outkast.  Check out full descriptions of these newbies in the link below.

SPINS Best New Artists - May 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel Was Exquisite

Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was just as whimsical, hysterical, and beautiful as I expected.  Anderson’s film making is unlike anyone else in Hollywood, past or present.  His movies are tiny snapshots into intensely imaginative worlds which transport the viewer directly into the scenes and make you feel as though you are not merely an observer, but a participant.  His characters are both relatable and outrageous to the point of being almost caricature-like.  In this, his latest film, Anderson takes us to the Republic of Zubrowka, a fictional land in the European Alps where a once regal and well respected hotel known as The Grand Budapest has fallen into sad disrepair and is inhabited only by the occasional estranged guest.  It is there that we meet the hotels owner, an elderly and seemingly well off man named Zero Moustafa who agrees to tell his story, and how he came to be in possession of the finest hotel that ever was.  Flashing back to the eve of World War II, we find Zero as a young lobby boy, recently hired at the Grand Budapest under the supervision of the greatest concierge to ever grace the profession, Monsieur Gustave H. (expertly portrayed by Ralph Fiennes).  Monsieur Gustave treats every guest as if they were a member of his family and his attention to detail is equaled only by his commitment to perfection.  Taking Zero under his wing, Gustave sets about showing him the ropes in a dry, satirical manner which is both hysterical and admirable.  One guest in particular strikes a chord with Gustave, the elderly and wealthy Madame D.  The two form a romantic relationship and after her unexpected death, she bequeaths her invaluable painting “Boy With Apple” to Gustave, enraging her evil son Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis who vows to destroy Gustave and take back “Boy With Apple”.  Hilarity ensues as Gustave and Zero set about hiding the priceless painting as they make a pact to never reveal its location and Gustave agrees to make Zero his sole heir.  I won’t go any further into the story as things spiral out of control, Zero falls in love with a local bakery girl, and the hotel is occupied by a military force.  To find out more you will have to watch the film.  Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with the movie.  All of Anderson’s usual crew make appearances including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel and others, including newcomers Saoirse Ronan and Jude Law.  Anderson continues to show an incredible eye for cinema with sets and camera shots that defy modern conventions.  A remarkably unique story is the result and one that will not disappoint.