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Cloud Atlas: Everything Is Connected October 24, 2012

Posted by Alichat in Books, Life, Movies, Random.
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When watching Cloud Atlas last night, after about 30 minutes, I expected to see a few audience members make an exodus out of the theatre.  Not because Cloud Atlas is bad, just the opposite.  But it is a movie that requires patience in the beginning.  And, as any frequent movie-goer knows, there are alot of people who won’t give a movie the patience it needs, thus missing out on some great films.  For those four people (out of a theatre of about 180-200) who did leave, you missed a fantastic and bold movie.  Based upon the book by David Mitchell, it is a detailed, visually stunning, epic tale which spans 6 different time periods: 1849-1850, late 1930s, mid-1970s, 2012, 2144, and 150 years after the fall of humanity.  That last one is a kicker, right?  More on that time later.  The movie bounces between these periods following not a chronological order, but a more narrative order. 

As we move back and forth from period to period, we are introduced to an array of characters, portrayed by (just to name a few) Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and Korean actress Doona Bae. Each actor portrays between 4 to 7 characters in these differing periods. And stay for the credits, because you get to see each character the main actors portrayed, and some will surprise you!  As these periods in time unfold, we see the subtle but  significant way they are tied together, through a specific character, a piece of clothing, a song, a novel, or a character’s exploration and self-discovery.  The movie is a woven tale of love, fear, cruelty, heroism, and rebellion. By the end we have a blanket tale of how a small act of kindness can ripple throughout time, how love and respect for others is a basic human right, and how these two things can give one the strength to change the world.  Everything is connected.

The movie is not only beautiful and dramatic, but there are some wonderfully funny moments courtesy of Jim Broadbent and his 2012 character Timothy Cavendish.  With his coke bottle glasses and bug-eyed expressions, Timothy Cavendish has a no good, very bad few weeks, and we are the better for it.  Another funny moment comes from Hugo Weaving, as Nurse Noakes, a character reminiscent of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  He had me giggling,  probably not the intent of the directors, but I just couldn’t help thinking of his last drag foray, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, although Noakes is in no way as flamboyant as Mitzi Del Bra.  One nice surprise was Hugh Grant who gets completely lost in both look and voice in most of his characters.  It’s a nice change from the two characters he typically plays: shy, stuttering lovestruck, and smarmy cad.

One of the best performances, from a sea of many, comes from Doona Bae.  Pursued by the Wachowskis to play the character of Sonmi-451, a clone from the 2144 time period, she displays a range of emotions both beautiful and heartbreaking to see.  We learn of her life via an interview she must give to an Archivist prior to her death.  Moving from wide-eyed innocence to child-like curiosity to intelligence and strength, Bae is remarkable to watch.  You feel every moment Sonmi-451 is experiencing.

I was really impressed with this film.  It is, I believe, the first film helmed by three directors, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski, who get equal screen credit.  It’s apparent that these three worked as a cohesive unit, because they’ve created an impressive genre-bending film.  My only complaint with this almost 3 hour epic would be with the 6th time period, 150 years after the downfall of humanity.  It’s set in a dystopian future on a remote island.  Tom Hanks, as Zachry, a primitive tribesman who is part of a group who survived after  the fall of humanity, has lengthy conversations with his fellow tribe members and with visitor, Meronym, who is part of the group of technologically advanced humans that survived the fall.  The language and dialect of the primitive tribe is difficult to understand, so you have to catch a word here and there to follow what is being said.  Any minutes you expect Jodie Foster as Nell to come twirling out of the woods, swaying her arms and saying  “tay’ay ina win….tay’ay ina win!”  That is the only thing that pulled me out of film, but it’s not enough to keep me from seeing it again.

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