Peeping Tom, Night of the Hunter and a whole host of older films were ignored or given bad reviews upon…
Everything is Connected
A set of six nested stories spanning time between the 19th century and a distant post-apocalyptic future. Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Based on the award winning novel by David Mitchell. Directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis.
"What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?" - Adam Ewing
I think the only sensible way to review this film is by each of it's inter-twining stories. In chronological order, of course:
Time and setting: South Pacific Ocean, 1849
Genre: Sea-faring adventure/period drama
Protagonist: Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess)
Well, I suppose a good place to start is the worst place to start, because things can only get better. Although the events of this section are meant to be small and cramped to show the gravity of the events that are to follow, this doesn't seem to gel with the rest of the story. The other stories have a bigger scope, while nothing much happens in this…
It speaks volumes of a filmmaker when they can fluently negotiate, perhaps perfect, multitudinous genres during their careers. What speaks even louder and distinctive volumes is that adept versatility showcased in and confined to a singular film, which navigates genres in such a fluid manner that the coalition of possibly conflicting styles is in fact flawless. Cloud Atlas is one such phenomenal film for the Wachowski's and Tom Tykwer, and what they orchestrate beneath the 172 minute smokescreen is unparalleled, exceedingly audacious and possibly, in due time whilst the film ferments, a revered classic in cinema.
Historic and futuristic; comedic and mightily dramatic; thrilling and introspective, Cloud Atlas traverses an abundance of eras, harnessing the theory that each choice we…
Having read the book only after seeing the trailer a few months ago, I was never in the camp that thought the book should/could never be turned into a film. I read the book with an almost insurmountable amount of hype behind it, but it met those expectations handily. The film has been hyped even more than the book, with good reason! The book is epic and dramatic, spanning vast amounts of time and space. Even though it has one of the most interesting and impressive narrative structures of all time, the narrative is secondary in importance to the themes holding the disparate characters and circumstances together. How do you turn such a book into a movie without failing miserably?…
David Mitchell’s novel is one of the most impressive novels I have ever read. It is an exercise in style, an exploration of the nature of humanity and a narrative of hope, an appreciation of art and a glimmer of redemption for a self-destructive race. That is what I got out of it, but the book is so complex that multiple interpretations are possible and there is always the chance that people will not take anything from it at all. That’s the nature of any form of art. Where the film fails to be a successful adaption of the novel on that deeper level for me, it more than succeeds in distilling a common thread from it, structuring the complex…
(Forward: I've been planning this review for a very long time now. I was very excited when the film came in the mail today.)
If a film is good, I'll usually think about it for a day or two before moving on. If it's great, I'l think about it for weeks. But to think about a film almost every day for nearly six months after I've first seen it? That takes a miracle.
And Cloud Atlas is that miracle.
Now, since I believe that the Academy should be subject to criminal abuse for disregarding Cloud Atlas, I shall now list every Oscar category that the film was eligible for and give reasons why it should have been a frontrunner at…
The Wachowski siblings have always been ambitious filmmakers even if they have overreached themselves on more than a few occasions. Cloud Atlas is undoubtedly their most ambitious project to date both thematically and logistically. Three directors, six interweaving stories and a big budget independent production dealing with existential questions: At worst it is career suicide, at best filmmakers’ folly.
Although David Mitchell’s original novel deals with the concept of storytelling it never seemed a natural fit for the silver screen. It is simply too dense and sprawling to be considered commercially viable. Therefore it took filmmakers with the vision and financial clout to bring this adaptation into the world. For all its faults, and it does have many, it is…
Listened to the excellent What Are You Doing, Movie? commentary with this.
A series of interconnected stories, taking us from a Polynesian island in the 19th century to far into the future.
This wildly ambitious film is never boring and is fun in the way it hops across, not just times and places, but also genres and tones (from comedy to thriller to drama to sci-fi and back again), but in the end doesn't quite realise what it promises.
For a movie that's all about interconnectedness, the link between stories is often very tenuous and the Great Insight that everything leads up to comes down to something like: 'our actions have a ripple effect through time, so we better be nice to each other'.
Here's a two-hour multimillion dollar movie that could just as easily have been a Hallmark card.
There was a moment in this film when I realised how film adaptations of books have such a hard time. On the page, stories can meander, details can be pored over, internal musings can entertain and inform. It's all part of the reading experience, and to a large extent the author (as David Mitchell did here) gets to set his own pace. Gaps in exposition, such as the connections between his six nested stories, become exercises for the reader to puzzle over. And the time it takes to read the book gives plenty of space for the subconscious mind to consider.
The screen is much less forgiving. With few exceptions, films are telling stories in real time, and they have…
Weirdly, this film is simultaneously both terrible and not terrible, a kind of Schrödinger's Cat of overblown and self-consciously epic filmmaking that's just as likely to make you roll your eyes as it is to make you swoon. Which, when you think about it, is quite an achievement.
A wonderful cringe inducing train wreck. The Wachowski Bros. are matched only by M. Knight in fabricating these embarrassing personal mythologies.
Bold, daring, and also UNNECESSARILY LONG. I only care for half this film.
(And in this case, the book really is better)
A note to book readers: Cloud Atlas the movie splices the stories throughout and thus does not follow the same structure as the book. This was probably a good idea as it introduces the continuity/re-incarnation themes immediately. However, it also has the effect of downplaying the impact of each individual story as a plot unto itself. Consequently, some of the stories come across as much more frivolous in the movie (e.g. the Cavendish and Frobisher stories).
Like the book, the movie is very confusing and challenging. For someone that has not read the book, the best they will likely say is that the movie was a trip or that it was deep. For me though, the payoff was not as…
- Eyes Wide Shut
- Speed Racer
- Marie Antoinette
- Spring Breakers
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
- The Red Shoes
- Synecdoche, New York
- Time of the Gypsies
- Speed Racer
- La Jetée
Apologies for the rather clumsy and drab title, I was going to call it Pure Cinema but that isn't quite…