Cloud Atlas

The trailer for Cloud Atlas, the behemothic new movie of David Mitchell's 2004 novel that took two Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer directing to adapt, looks less like a preview than a whole slate of coming attractions, so many and varied are the times and places that it touches down. The box office success of Inception makes this sort of busy, "difficult" blockbuster suddenly viable. More than anything in the contemporary multiplex, however, Cloud Atlas resembles D.W. Griffith's 1916 Intolerance, with its four parallel narratives. What does it say about studio moneymen when the innovations of a century ago still look risky? Like Mitchell's book, Cloud Atlas contains six narratives set into parallel motion, each coming in and out of view regularly like figures in a carousel. The same voices and faces—that is, actors—recur in different roles along the timeline, even playing against racial type and gender: Jim Sturgess dons epicanthic folds and Kyle MacLachlan's hair in Neo Korea; Halle Berry wears whiteface as the wife of World War II–era Jim Broadbent, etc. It's tempting to pull for a formally ambitious, queer-friendly, R-rated blockbuster that uses the word "amanuensis" and seems designed to drag viewers into uncomfortable new idioms. There is, however, a viewing experience to consider. Each segment feels more like an extended trailer for itself than a sound narrative unit. Maybe this incompletion is purposeful, but it's a problem when what's invariably elided or taken for granted is the very human connection and commiseration that is supposedly the most vital force in the universe. There is a great deal of humbug about art and love in Cloud Atlas, but it is decidedly unlovable, and if you want to learn something about feeling, you're at the wrong movie.

 
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4 comments
NickPinkerton
NickPinkerton

@la_voyeuse_ You're very kind. Said review ran long in other Village Voice Media papers, should you for whatever reason desire more.

aintitgrand
aintitgrand

i can't believe you're complaining about things like the word amanuensis and "uncomfortable new idioms", especially considering the use of the word elided a couple sentences later.  the village voice used to have thoughtful writing here and there.  i hope this review is wrong, but either way it's weird to see such a glib review accuse it's subject of pretty much the same thing.  pinkerton?  come off it, man.    

actually.read
actually.read

 @aintitgrand For someone being so biting, you could stand to read the article a little more closely. The writer said he wanted to like the movie for those exact points (that's what "It's tempting to pull for" means) but he said despite all those good points such as big words, queer relationships, and strange new concepts, he could not end up liking the movie because it was too disjointed.

 

So sit down and keep your trap shut, especially if you can't bother to capitalize your sentences.

aintitgrand
aintitgrand

@actually.read @aintitgrand wow, i never knew someone responded to my response until rotten tomatoes led me to another laughable review by village voice.  but you were right, and i apologize.  i did end up seeing cloud atlas, though, and i don't think that it was quite as disconnected from feeling as the author of this article felt.  it was strangely edited in places, and that could be jolting.  it should have followed the book's narrative structure instead of jumping around so much.  but, at the end of the day, it was so much more satisfying than most of the $#!% that rolls through theaters.

 

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