Saturday, January 31, 2015

Photography Movies - Walter Mitty and the Photo Guy

The Exposure Photography Festival is afoot with films, exhibits, and special events!  My calendars are mapped out (with bright colors) with galleries that I plan to hit before the month is done.

But this weekend is cold, so instead of going out last night I started a photography movie marathon.  Recently I discovered a webpage that lists 40 films that photographers should see.  Some I found at the Library -- crazy Hold placing ensued.  The first films to arrive were The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and One Hour Photo.

First, not really a Ben Stiller fan, but I really, really liked the music, the photography, and the story in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Walter (Ben Stiller) works for Life magazine just as the magazine is being dismantled into virtual Life online. Walter's job involves taking care of the negatives that photographers submit to the magazine; his favorites being by photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn).  Sean has sent the "quintessential" photo for the final cover of Life, negative #25.  Walter can't find negative #25.  Dull, unadventurous Walter, who tends to "zone out" into fantastic imaginative adventures, dares to travel to remote places like Iceland and Afghanistan to find Sean.  My favorite scene is where Walter finds Sean stalking a snow leopard (ghost cat) in the Himalayans. Sean talks about finding the perfect photo opportunity and instead of taking the photo he chooses to bask in the moment. Very cool.  BTW, the Bohemian world travelling photographer look really works for Sean.

The second movie, One Hour Photo, I almost didn't watch because I like Robin Williams.  I've seen him do manic stand-up, TV comedy, and tons of his movies.  I was hesitant about watching Robin do bad, or at least mentally unstable.  In One Hour Photo, Robin plays a box store (SavMart, could be Wal-Mart) One Hour "photo guy" who gets a little too involved with one family whose photos he's been developing for 10 years.  The movie speaks of the importance of photos in commemorating family moments.  It also speaks of one man's loneliness and desire to be included in a family. Robin falling apart after being fired is captivating and fascinating to watch. There's no manic improvising as Robin tightly plays creepy. In the DVD extra features Robin and the director Mark Romanek talk about having to let Robin release his suppressed volcano in between takes.

It's interesting that the characters in both movies start off as dull, boring men who prefer to observe or imagine life rather than live it.  Yet both movies end in very different places.