Beau here to give Cloud Atlas the Yes No Maybe So treatment while Nathaniel remains otherwise occupied.
Jesus. What to say? I’m struck by the visual nature of the beast, but that’s to be expected given the caliber of talent involved with the project. At the same time, something so grandiose and ambitious has a natural inclination to tip, like the leaning tower of Pisa. Beautiful to look upon, but you don’t want to get to close lest the thing actually crumble under its own weight. Gravity is tricky that way. [More...]
- Novelistic Themes: I like that the film doesn’t intend on shying away from its original source material. It incorporates it in a beautiful form and doesn’t dumb it down from the audience. Subtle homoeroticism from the brilliant Ben Whishaw, Berry reiterating the primary(?) theme that we always repeat the same mistakes in the naive hope that one day everything will actually come together. There’s little evident restraint, which some might consider a bad thing. For me, I appreciate the daring and the sprinting into fire. It promises that we may see things we might never have on a huge scale.
- Visuals: It’s from the Wachowskis and Tom Twyker. That should be a given from the get go. Nathaniel could do a Best Shot from the trailer alone, and it’d be difficult to decide which one best encapsulates the story and leaves an impression on the viewer. (The long shot of Berry crashing into the river is particularly striking to me.)
- The facial expressiveness of Doona Bae (from Air Doll). Able to convey thoughts and emotions without the use of speech, I should be thinking of Rinko Kikuchi given the Babel-like interconnectedness, but I'm reminded of Samantha Morton in Sweet and Lowdown and Minority Report. Something delicate and sweet and trusting and fearful and mortal that collide willingly. She elicited the most emotion from me, without question.
- Tom Hanks doing his best Ice-T. I’ll pass.
- Tom Hanks delivering stilted dialogue regarding the universe, catching Halle Berry, etc. I feel a certain protectiveness towards the man, given that he had such a place in my childhood (what with ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Cast Away’, etc) but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he seems fairly out of place. If Zhou looks borne of this universe, Hanks looks like he crash landed and is desperately seeking a rescue ship off this planet. Berry and Grant look a bit more comfortable.
- Jim Sturgess is a beautiful looking man. Talented singer, adequate actor. But he doesn’t elicit a passion; there is a sense of a man who became an actor looking for the man. When he finds him, he may have something. We’ll wait and see.
- The Director’s Commentary !?!. Forced to explain their art, which a filmmaker doesn't need to do. The film hasn’t even come out yet, and already executives are pressing these three talented filmmakers to produce a one-sentence, ‘high concept’ summarization of the material? Gamely, they played along. But it’s another example of a distributor / studio not having enough faith in the material, the creative team, and most especially, the audience.
- The intertwining narratives: How it will all piece together is the key to making this picture work. Will they seamlessly fuse together and create a structural marvel of experimental narrative, or will that fusion feel disingenuous, cheating? Will it make ‘Babel’ and ‘Crash’ feel honest in their shared theme of ‘Everything is Connected?’ Let’s hope not. Whereas those films (I dislike both) were rooted and grounded in ‘reality’, ‘Cloud Atlas’ isn’t afraid to transcend space and time (gender, sexuality, race, etc.)
I am enormously interested in this project, but I would not be surprised to see it tip one way or another. It’s not the kind of film that is likely to elicits easy reactions from audiences; you can’t simply ‘like’ it or feel blase about it. That much is apparent from the extended preview, and that is enough of a reason for me to plant down my $15, if only to experience something like this in the company of an audience. The rhythms and shifts will be more vast, shift more dramatically, the tone collapses and reorganizes itself as something entirely different.
I’m down. Simply because I have no idea what I’m going to see with Cloud Atlas. Which is more than enough reason to be excited about it.
Are you a Yes No or Maybe So?