This week’s movie releases

Walter Mitty is given new life by Ben Stiller but Lars von Trier courts controversy as always with ‘Nymphomaniac’

A still from 'Nymphomaniac' by Lars von Trier.
A still from 'Nymphomaniac' by Lars von Trier.Foto de promocion (EL PAÍS)

Humorist James Thurber's beloved 1939 short story about a hapless daydreamer The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was first adapted for the screen in 1947 with Danny Kaye. Now it's back in an all-new 21st-century incarnation directed by and starring Ben Stiller that radically departs from the original tale. Stiller's Mitty has been transformed into an employee in the photo department of the soon-to-be-closed Life magazine who has a penchant for daydreaming. His job threatened, he heads out on a real-life global adventure to retrieve a missing image for the cover of the final issue. Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn co-star.

It would be hard to find a movie less befitting its Christmas Day release slot than Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. The Danish arch-provocateur's latest charts the erotic life of sex addict Charlotte Gainsbourg, who recounts her experiences to bachelor Stellan Skarsgård after he rescues her following a beating in the street. The highly explicit film features a number of famous names in situations in which you don't normally find them -- notably Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater and Connie Nielsen -- though their faces were apparently digitally superimposed on porn stars' bodies for the really fruity stuff. Part two is out on January 24.

Spanish drama Ismael tells the tale of a 10-year-old boy (Larsson Do Amaral) who runs away from the home he shares with his mother in Madrid and boards a train to Barcelona to find the dad (Mario Casas) he has never met. The only clue he has is an old envelope with an address where he finds, not his father, but his glamorous granny Belén Rueda, who knew nothing of his existence and takes him to meet her son.

Medieval medic

A German-produced adaptation of Noah Gordon's 1986 novel The Physician stars Tom Payne as a gifted young apprentice doctor traveling through 11th-century Europe to reach Persia and meet legendary medical man Ibn Sina (Ben Kingsley).

"I know kung-fu," Keanu Reeves exclaimed in The Matrix. Well, now he's also got some samurai skills, too. The Speed star leads the cast in 47 Ronin, a highly fictionalized version of the real-life case of a group of warriors who sought revenge for their murdered master in 18th-century Japan.

Walking with Dinosaurs is a big-screen version of the 1999 BBC TV series that brought the terrible lizards of the Mesozoic era back to computer-generated life. In this prehistoric adventure, which follows the journey of a young Pachyrhinosaurus and his family, each dino has its own voiceover courtesy of the likes of John Leguizamo, Justin Long and Tiya Sircar.

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