Cloud Atlas: Spellbinding Brilliance in Film

POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. NOT SAYING THERE ARE SPOILERS, JUST THAT THERE COULD BE. 😀

I went into the screening of Cloud Atlas very warily. I loved the 6-minute trailer, but I was scared they wouldn’t be able to balance the storylines. I thought it would be a beautiful failure. The images and scenes would be wonderful, but wouldn’t make much sense in the long run. As the movie progressed, this fear lessened to a degree that it no longer existed. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer have made an epic masterpiece of the highest grade.

It’s difficult to find something to nitpick about this film on. It’s just that good. The acting here is phenomenal. All of the actors are allowed to exist in a sort of playground where they can be all different types of characters. I had known that these actors were playing all these characters beforehand, so a lot of the game was guessing who was who in what makeup. The all star cast has the ability to be these characters fully and make them their own, with meaning. Rare does a character feel like they don’t matter to each existing storyline. This lends itself to the tagline, “Everything is Connected.” Everything feels connected in this movie and that’s amazing.

One of the things that I thought this movie did brilliantly was pacing, in timing as well as in mood. You’ll laugh in this movie. You’ll cry in this movie. You’ll be scared at times. Each emotion is given its due in full force. When you’re sad, they keep hitting you with sad until the release of happiness comes. This movie pulls your heart in every direction and it’s one of the most worthy rides of a film in history. You’re getting pulled every which way, and you love it.

This element is only compounded by the brilliant score for the movie. I went and saw this with a friend of mine who wasn’t really interested in seeing the film and he was blown away. As we were walking out of the theater, sniffling, he says, “Holy crap that soundtrack was amazing.” I agreed (and I’m actually listening to it whilst writing this). Seriously, if you like film score, you owe it to yourself to go download this on from Amazon or iTunes or whatever musical God you serve. :p You won’t regret it.

Watching the characters in each of their storylines is a thing of beauty. Each storyline is given it’s due as a plot. None of them are rushed through in the almost 3 hours of film here. The directors give each different timeline their own time to make it through each plot and resolve everything for the characters. This closure provides some of the strongest emotions of the film. Not everybody gets a happy ending, but they all get closure in their own ways.

The special effects are another strong-suit here. Of course, being the Wachowskis, they have to have some sort of brilliant effects in here. The scenes in New Seoul are filled with “matrix-esque” technology and fight scenes. It’s like a blend between The Matrix and Minority Report in weaponry and fight styles. There are also scenes where they mix tribal tech with future tech, and they both come in handy.

My favorite part of this film is the little struggles you go through with each character. The actors display all these small emotions on their faces at points and you feel what they’re going through. Tom Hanks’ tribal character goes through immense fear, to shame, to courage, to amazement, to anger, to joy, and then to contentment and love. And that’s just ONE of the storylines that he takes part in. Jim Broadbent gives some of the best lines of the film as Timothy Cavendish. He’s definitely one of the characters tasked with the movie’s comic relief.

This movie release Friday here in America. You need to see this film. I watched it with a friend of mine, who is a staunchly evangelical Christian from the South, and he rooted for one of the gay characters throughout the film. That’s a hell of a gap to bridge in 3 hours, but Cloud Atlas accomplishes it fantastically. This film needs to be seen by as many people as possible, because it doesn’t just end as a film. It’s a call-to-action for the people of the universe, which is echoed in the line given by one of the main characters towards the end of the film,

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.”

5/5

 

ARGO and Dark Shadows (Reviews)

I got the chance to catch a screening of ARGO with a friend of mine (twitter.com/datbatmann) on Monday and it was phenomenal.

If you don’t know the declassified true story behind the film, here it is in a nutshell: “As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA ‘exfiltration’ specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.” (taken from IMDB)

The film is set in the late seventies and actually happened. I had read up on this story after seeing the first movie trailer. This is a testament to the directing and the acting in this film. You know how it ends. Everyone knows how it ends. It happened. The people got out safely. The plan worked. The intensity is just so incredibly high at points that you think, “Oh God…ARE they gonna get out?!” Ben Affleck has us on the edge of our seat for a story in which we already know the ending. Brilliant.

I also enjoy Ben’s other movies Gone Baby Gone and The Town. I think Gone Baby Gone is better, by c’est la vie.

In short, go see this movie sometime. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen all year and a definite contender for Best Picture. 5/5

At the house, we redboxed Dark Shadows the other night. I hadn’t had a chance to see this one in theaters like I wanted to, but as a Tim Burton fan, I NEEDED to see this one. :]

Unfortunately, this movie is incredibly boring. I mean, I had never seen the original series, so there’s no context for me, but the movie has an almost 2 hour runtime and you feel it. It moves incredibly slow and my family and I found ourselves checking our watches at multiple points throughout.

The things that rock about this movie are the art direction (obviously), soundtrack (artists and score), and the comedic moments. There are a lot of gems throughout, but they are sparse in comparison to the whole film. This one will go down as one of the lower points in Tim Burton’s repertoire.

It definitely had a lot of Alice Cooper though. So, bonus cooper points. 😀 3/5

Twitter Debates and Free Will

Social networks are brilliant creations. They keep the world connected in ways that people never thought possible. They’ve created new venues of getting your voice heard, your talent noticed, and a plethora of other great things. They also have a downside. Scandals get out quicker. If you mess up at a concert, expect it to immediately be up on YouTube. That’s just part of the culture we live in. You know what one of the best parts of these networks is? They’re voluntary.

You’re not forced into a social network online. You exist in one daily, through human interaction, but that’s something that’s incredibly hard to get rid of; short of isolation or death. The online one? Those are something you have to choose to join. Also, you get to choose the people you follow, friend, and generally connect with on these networks.

I am a member of a bevy of social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare; I love ’em all. I also love debate. I love figuring things out, forming an opinion, and then voicing/defending it. Robert A. Heinlein once said, “I never learned from a man who agreed with me.” I see debate as a way of sharpening your own beliefs. If you’re right, it gives you a chance to teach. If you’re wrong, it gives you a chance to learn. All men do both.

Social Networks are a platform that can utilize these debates. If someone tweets something I can tweet back at them and reply until we figure something out. I love this. Anyone who follows us can see the debate and potentially learn something from it as well. Anyone can voice their opinion in the debate. It’s FANTASTIC.

A lot of people apparently feel differently, and that brings me to an earlier point; participation is voluntary. You don’t have to follow me. You don’t have to friend me. If you don’t like what I say, you can hide/block it. I don’t screen my followers. There are so many different options to utilize before you get to, “Twitter debates aren’t cool.” It’s a public forum that’s completely participated in by choice. My self-esteem can take you not following me.

If you don’t like what someone is saying, that’s perfectly fine, but take a second to think about what Mr. Heinlein said. Surrounding yourself with “yes men” isn’t the way to go.