(Pic Courtesy: Hot New Trailers)
Is it even fair to compare these two movies? One is about dreams, discovery, losing & finding and of course, travelling. While, the other is about money, drugs & sex. They don’t even belong to the same genre! One is a comedy or a comedy drama as some may argue & the other is biographical crime comedy….or is it drama?
Anyway, doesn’t matter. That’s why I can compare these two movies because it doesn’t matter to me. All this is just jibber-jabber for me. As, for me, movie is nothing but story telling. So, at the end of the day, for me, it just comes down to:
Did I enjoy that story?
Frankly, before watching them, it was not even a question. Walter Mitty I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch.
See, I like movies to sweep me off my feet, so I don’t read reviews or watch the trailer. Don’t do anything that can take the magic of discovering away from me.
Thus, Walter Mitty was a dicey gamble to play on a hard earned weekend, especially when someone on my Twitter timeline said, “It’s the happy version of Into The Wild’ (Never liked Into The Wild). The Wolf was a Scorsese baby, you just can’t ignore it. For the lovers of cinema Martin Scorsese is an institution of it, if not the God of it. Walter Mitty was directed by Ben Stiller- the guy who directed blah Zoolander. Ben even plays the lead in it. I loved him in ‘Meet The Parents….The Fockers’, ‘Along Came Polly’, but the last movie I remember of him is ‘A Night At The Museum-2’- something from which I came out saying, “Eh! One was better.” Leonardo Di Caprio plays the Wolf. The ‘Shutter Island’ & ‘Inception’ guy. So, comparison wasn’t a question, especially for me. Since to me Ben Stiller was just a funny guy & Leo Di Caprio always makes me go, “God! Those piercing eyes!!! Oh that smile”.
Smile is most important to me. Smile was what was on my face while watching Walter. The laughs were scattered but the smile was pasted. Wolf made me laugh, made me clap but that smile wasn’t there. A friend was like,
“Of course, you’ll like Walter. He is the the underdog. You always cheer for underdogs.”
Someone was like,
” You’re a feminist. So you must’ve found the portrayal of the women in the movie as misogynist, so how can you condone the film”
“Yeah, Walter is about dreaming away. That’s what you do, live in a dream world, in your pretty little pink world. You can’t face the reality. It makes you cringe.”
But that’s what my point is: It didn’t!!! The reality of The Wolf Of Wall Street didn’t make me cringe. It didn’t make me despise abusing drugs, degrading sex to its basic primal self, making money at any cost. In fact, it filled me with the lust for the same. Remember in my ‘About Cherry’ post I’ve said that it felt like a recruitment film for the porn industry? I had a similar feeling with the Wolf. Jordan maybe a good salesman but Scorsese is a great salesman, he sold the lifestyle of debauchery to me. I loved his product, I wanted to have it for myself. I wanted to make a drinking game ‘Each Time Someone uses the F Word in the Movie’.
Walter Mitty also portrays reality- the fading out of romanticism of journalism. The passion for creating changing into making a profitable product. I remember when Adam Scott said that ‘I am lovin it’ is the motto of Life magazine, I howled,
“It’s exactly like this. Yeh bloody suits aakar baith jate hain creatives ke upar. In MBAs ko journalism ka J nahin pata, screw the ethics, F the quality bas saste mein kaam ho jaaye aur mehenge mein bik jaaye”
I could’ve given a whole speech (as the journalist the corporate’s control of the editorial really frustrates & outrages me) but the guilt of disturbing other people in the theatre shut me up.
So yeah, Walter is about reality too. It is also about goodness; goodness in life, goodness in people. It tells us that life is about living, loving, rejoicing each moment as it comes. It is not just about being a ‘working bee’ & fairing one’s duties. That’s a part of life. Just like winning & money making should be.
As for the cinema quality, both were …. well I don’t think that I even have the credentials to comment. All I can say is that I loved camera-work, detailing & the use of music in both.
Some found Walter to be slow. I found it slow like the life of a hill station- serene, soothing. At certain points I even found the Wolf to be slow because of stretching of some scenes, some felt repetitive & a few were just not required. At those points, it was slow like the traffic of Mumbai: dragging making a one & an half hours commute 3 hours long.
I think I found Wolf dragging because of the narrative Scorsese chose. Predictability of the plot. The twist & turns were induced by the craft of direction & didn’t generate from the merit of the story. I really wonder why he chose the point of view of the stock broker. What’s the point of showing greed glorification when we’ve already seen it twice in the Great Gatsby…one last year itself…played by Leo Di Caprio himself? Wouldn’t the narrative of the FBI agent been more thrilling? Why the agent picks Jordan instead of Goldman or Lehman? How he puts the pieces of the puzzle together? The chase. Being defeated…twice & then suddenly when he loses all hopes a miracle happens. Or, why Scorsese didn’t tell the story like Jeffery Archer narrated ‘Kane & Abel’- An FBI agent & a stock broker. The parallel, the hide & seek, the unknown of what happens next, the check & mate of chess. But I guess, when you’re Martin Scorsese you don’t need to ask yourself these questions. Unlike me, perhaps Martin Scorsese doesn’t need to wonder if he is getting verbose. If a scene is really required or he is being self indulgent?
There are two particular scenes I want to talk about. The volcano eruption car scene from Walter Mitty & the yacht in the storm scene in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Both the scenes are similar in their placement, objective & effect on the story. The difference lies in the treatment.
In Walter I was laughing, clapping, I held my breathe for a minute & then everything was back to normal. However, when Wolf’s yacht is stuck in the storm, my ‘Resting head on his shoulders, holding his arms’ Position changes into ‘Sitting on the edge of the seat, digging my nails in his palms’ Position. The scene hit me like a bong of hash- made me attentive, then blocked rest of the world, engaged me in a mirage, and then the laughs, ecstasy, dry mouth, fear, anxiety- all at once. What drama! What cinematic experience!
The contrast between these two scenes made me realize the key difference in their ways of story-telling. Ben Stiller’s way was like that of a ‘guy next door’ sometimes charming, sometimes funny but always so endearing. Being with him may not give butterflies in the stomach but provides a warmth, induces a faith that world is such a lovely place to be in. Everything about that guy is so casual. Unlike Martin Scorsese who approaches like a player. You know he has put in lot of efforts to impress. Is he successful in impressing? Gosh! He sweeps you off your feet. With him it’s an adrenaline feast, gratification of lust. But, at the end of the day you wonder what’s his real intent.
While I feel that intention of Ben Stiller was to tell a story which he has captivated him for years & he tells us with so much honesty; am not sure if Martin Scorsese’s heart was in the right place.
You must be thinking, how ‘vella’ I am. Wasting so much time in this argument. Trust me, I wasn’t proud of it. So the minute I reached home from the theatre I entered the world of Oscar Wilde through ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’; you know, to distract. And guess what? In his words I found an end to this debate. I found solace to my questions.
I am not going to tell you what I found. It’ ll take the beauty away. I’ll just write his words that answered my questions. I’ll let you have the joy of discovery.
Here they are:
“An artist is the creator of beautiful things….Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault……There’s no such things as moral or an immoral book (I replaced book with movie here). Books are well written or badly written. That is all….Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass…..No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style……Vice & virtue are to the artist materials for an art….Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.”