Social alienation proves popular in Hollywood's fall lineup

Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:23pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy and Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After a summer of superhero action and feel-good animated comedies, Hollywood has turned to forlorn figures to head fall-winter fare at the box office with films that explore existential dilemmas faced by isolated characters.

The fall-winter months are traditionally when film studios release their top dramas to beat the end-of-year Oscars deadline and build buzz heading into the Hollywood awards season. This year, Hollywood is banking on the socially alienated.

Loners, dreamers, misfits and outcasts show up in fantastical comedy such as "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," Alfonso Cuaron's space thriller "Gravity," Kimberly Peirce's remake of Stephen King's high school horror "Carrie," and the big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card's 1985 sci-fi tale of young people in warfare "Ender's Game."

Walter Mitty, a fictional character from a 1939 short story by James Thurber, defines a person not comfortable in his own skin or surroundings, alienated by idealistic aspirations.

Ben Stiller, the actor and director of "Walter Mitty," due in theaters on Christmas, said he felt people would latch on to Mitty's inability to connect to the world around him.

"There was something very accessible and relatable about the idea of a guy who exists more in his head and isn't able to be who he wants to be," he said.

Stiller's Mitty is a Life magazine employee, handling the film negatives of Life's photo archive and embarking on a fantastical journey to find a missing photograph that would go in the final issue before the publication moves online.

"He's an analog guy in a digital world. That change is something generational, I can relate to that and I feel a lot of people will relate as well," Stiller said.   Continued...

Actress Sandra Bullock arrives at a gala screening of her film "Gravity" at the London Film Festival at a cinema in Leicester Square, central London, October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning