Movie shorts: January 5

2014-01-05 14:00

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller directs and stars in this sweet film about a little grey man with a colourful little secret. Walter Mitty works in the darkroom at Life magazine but daydreams of a life of adventure in which he is the hero, and in which he gets the girl.

He gets his wish as the the final printed edition of the iconic magazine looms and the bean counters are threatening all their jobs. The magazine’s best and most illusive photographer, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), delivers his negative for the front page picture, but Walter can’t find it.

And so begins his first and most epic adventure – this time in the real world – he must find O’Connell and get the negative before the bosses find out it is lost. His trip takes him to the wilds of Greenland, and to Iceland via a helicopter drop into the icy sea.

His leap from dreams to reality is inspired by his crush on Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), the girl he aims to get in the end. Loosely based on the 1947 film of the same name that starred Danny Kaye, Stiller is likeable in the roole, if not as funny as we are used to.

A pleasant couple of hours’ entertainment in which the little guy wins big.

The Counselor

Michael Fassbender is a lawyer who becomes embroiled in one of his dodgy client’s deals. He thinks he goes in with his eyes open, but he finds out quickly and brutally that he has been blind all along. Javier Bardem is the client, Cameron Diaz is his hard-edged girlfriend and Penélope Cruz is Fassbender’s fiancée. Brad Pitt puts in an appearance as a slippery middle man.

The moral of this story is that some people have absolutely no morals. This is directed by Ridley Scott and written by famed author Cormac McCarthy – it’s interesting, but a tad confusing in parts.


This glorious reimagining of the rather dark tale of the Snow Queen is one that everyone will love. As children Elsa and Anna play fearlessly with Elsa’s gift – control over snow and ice – Elsa accidentally hurts Anna and she retreats into fear and isolation.

The sisters grow up alone, but when they must face the world it all goes wrong and Elsa brings on a permanent winter, and only Anna can get her to reverse it.

She is helped along the way by Kristoff and his best friend, a reindeer named Sven. Also along for the ride is a magical snowman called Olaf. Joyful, funny and affirming – Disney at its best.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Bilbo Baggins continues his un-Hobbit-like adventure with the band of dwarves and Gandalf the Grey, who got Bilbo mixed up in the Middle-earth odyssey in the first place.

The elves return, with Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett reprising their roles from director Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Whether or not you think turning the slim volume of The Hobbit into three films is a little excessive, another trip to Middle-earth is irresistible to fans.

The Fifth Estate

Benedict Cumberbatch is very good as Julian Assange, but his fine performance isn’t enough to make this an action-packed flick. The makers work hard to make sitting at a computer and writing code exciting and visual, but despite the important content of the film in telling the watershed story of WikiLeaks, it hasn’t been able to draw in the crowds.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Idris Elba may not look much like the great Nelson Mandela, but he inhabits him in director Justin Chadwick’s rather beautiful screen adaptation of Mandela’s autobiography. Perhaps one of this film’s most pleasant surprises is that it tells Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s story so well and sensitively.

Schuks! Your Country Needs You

Leon Schuster is back at it, dressing up to spook up the spectres of South Africa’s past and present. Schuster is infamously critic-proof, so it really doesn’t matter what we say about the film. If you are a fan, you’ll go see it anyway.

Enough Said

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in this tale of love that is found, lost and found again. Gandolfini is Albert, an overweight divorcee, and Louis-Dreyfus is a divorcée who is not looking for love.

This is a cautionary tale for anyone who is seeking the perfect mate to remember that one person’s perfection is another’s disaster.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss Everdeen returns for the second in the trilogy. The story is getting more difficult to sell – like the reasons she must re-enter The Hunger Games – but Jennifer Lawrence is so good as this teen heroine it’s impossible not to get caught up in this dystopian world of gladiatorial games and revolution.

About Time

Richard Curtis, the man behind Notting Hill and Love Actually, has written and directed another real love story. Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, learns from his dad (Bill Nighy) that from the age of 21, all the men in the family can travel back in time in their own lives.

It’s about time we had a fun romantic comedy, and this is it.

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