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October 24, 2012

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Oliver_C

Lana Wachowski may prove to be a more interesting film-maker than Larry ever was. Here's hoping for fewer adolescent-male wankfests and not so many sunglasses.

Petey

"I haven't read the entirety of Mitchell's book"

Gack. Why not? It's a REALLY good book.

Matt Miller

I liked the movie a good bit more than you, Glenn, but I was surprised (and a little disappointed) at how formally unambitious it was, at least in comparison to SPEED RACER. I suspect that the filmmakers were (perhaps rightly) uncomfortable in asking a mainstream audience to accept a major break with convention in style on top of the complexity of the narrative.

I also felt that the Wachowski/Tykwer conception of the story emphasized romantic love as the antithesis to cruelty and oppression, whereas Mitchell was more interested in a broader concept of empathy and basic human connection. It still works, unlike the similar overemphasis on romantic love in V FOR VENDETTA, which, ugh.

David Ehrenstein

I disagree, Glenn. It doesn't completely work but it's not "just another platitudinous overblown pummel-you-into-submission movie-machine." On a pure action movielevel it's quite exciting. This might give it the audience it needs to navigate the marketplace. But then it might not.

Ran into Mitchell at Book Soup last week where he was buying a copy of my book (insert shameless plug for "Masters of Cinema: Roman Polanski") and he told me he was quite pleased with the movie, but at the same time quite surprised in tat of everything he's written it's the one least ammenable to film adaptation.

I.B.

They'll never do better than BOUND.

Scott Nye

I like the movie a lot, in spite of its problems, and similarly wrestled with the relative visual normality (particularly, as Matt noted, in the wake of the transcendent SPEED RACER). I'm wondering if it wasn't a truce of sorts between the three filmmakers so that their sections flowed together better, making the transitions less jarring and feeding into the whole "everything is connected" theme. While it would have been interesting to see different filmmaking styles employed in each section, I wonder if it would have undermined their everything-is-montage aesthetic.

Petey

"Ran into Mitchell ... surprised in tat of everything he's written it's the one least ammenable to film adaptation."

One level, of course. On another level, none of his other of his books are financially amenable to film adaptation.

- Ghostwritten is too expensive for its indie audience niche.
- number9dream doesn't add up financially for a variety of reasons.
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is way too expensive for a niche Oscar contender.

I suppose they could make Black Swan Green if the British government were still funding films like that, but that ship seems to have sailed.

Cloud Atlas, despite all its unfilmability, at least has the scope, ambition, and blockbusterness to attract crazy folks like the Wachowski twins and funding. Hell, Mitchell even includes characters giving actual cinema direction to scenes in the book, not to mention that it's got movies inside of movies going on.

(The REAL way to make Cloud Atlas would be to mini-series it with HBO, perhaps with a Euro partner. Give it a $60+ million budget for 8 or 10 hours, and film it with the same nested dolls chronology as the actual book. If HBO can do Mildred Pierce, the Euro coalition can do Carlos, I think an HBO / Euro partnership would've been the best home for the project.)

-----

Also, did Mitchell stutter when you chatted him up and forced the copy of your book into his hands?

Dan Coyle

I consider Speed Racer to be superior to all three Matrix movies, but it's still just well executed pap. The movement to rehabilitate it speaks more of audiences' and critics' collective guilt over elevating the Wachowskis to the godlike status they were clearly incapable of having, instead of the moderately skilled hacks/exceptionally skilled marketers they always have been and always will be.

Man, it was finally nice to remove that bug from my ass.

lazarus

Someone inappropriately used the term "hack"? What a surprise!

The only film they were brought on as hired guns for, to an extent, was Speed Racer, which they wound up writing anyway. And it's the most formally daring of all their works, so pretty tough to call that hackery.

So say what you want about them, but they shouldn't be confused with the people that drift from job to job and don't get to initiate any projects.

Josh Z

I find Speed Racer apologists to be a fascinating breed. Where exactly is the line between "formally daring" and "tediously repetititve"?

Petey

"I consider Speed Racer to be superior to all three Matrix movies"

The original Matrix is actually a quite good and formally stunning movie.

Not only did I very much enjoy it, but it's VERY rare that I walk out of the cinema unable to understand how an effect was accomplished, as I did with the 'stop time / move camera' effect they accomplished with all the synchronized still cameras. I thought that particular special effect was as amazing and revolutionary as the Hitchcock dolly/zoom effect. Eternal kudos to the Wachowski twins for that alone.

David Ehrenstein

No mithcell did not stutter,and he alread had a cop of my book in his hand when he spoke to me.

kdlough

Petey, Eadweard Muybridge is shaking a rotting fist at you right now.

Petey

"Petey, Eadweard Muybridge is shaking a rotting fist at you right now."

Fascinatingly, if you look at it frame by frame, you can see at the apogee of the 'shake', Muybridge's rotting fingers open, making it no longer a fist...

Tom Carson

I can understand the people who -- despite misgivings -- want to compliment CLOUD ATLAS for being "ambitious." We'd all like to see Hollywood taking more dares. But as Kris Kristofferson once said while serving on a film jury, "Shit don't beget nothing but more shit."

RoyRRip

"I thought that particular special effect was as amazing and revolutionary as the Hitchcock dolly/zoom effect. Eternal kudos to the Wachowski twins for that alone."

That effect had already been used in commercials and the LOST IN SPACE movie before the Wachowskis got their hands on it.

Petey

"That effect had already been used in commercials and the LOST IN SPACE movie before the Wachowskis got their hands on it."

I know the Wachowski twins didn't invent the technique just as the "Hitchcock zoom" was invented by Irmin Roberts, but still...

Glenn Kenny

Tom, I agree with the spirit of Mr. Kristofferson's observation. But as you are also no doubt aware, my commendation of the ambition on display here is a provisional one. I'd have been more impressed if they'd remade "The Saragossa Manuscript" or something.

Jajjjc

I still like the original Matrix got a lot, as well. The sequels not so much, and I can't get on board with the Speed Racer love...but the original is a good one, even among all those beloved 1999 films.

And I'm pretty much in agreement with your Cloud Atlas review, Glenn. Ambitious, but didn't click with me at all. I'm all for more ambitious films from Hollywood, but when it inevitably flops at the box office this week, I won't shed too many tears.

David Ehrenstein

"The Saragossa Manuscript" doesn't need to be remade. Has got it right the first time.

The best picture of the year so far remains "Keep the Lights On."

andy

Bullet time blew my mind when I first saw it in Buffalo 66--still the best, baby!

Brendan

Worth pointing out that neither the referenced commercials, Lost in Space, or Buffalo 66 used the same effect at The Matrix. Those films froze the action during the effect while the Matrix effect didn't - effectively the difference between a freeze frame and a slow motion shot.

Tom Block

How was bullet-time "revolutionary"? It was a technological advance, but it wasn't like, say, the juxtaposition of different film speeds, in "The Wild Bunch". That was an advance which added something that was actually new to film grammar.

Petey

"How was bullet-time "revolutionary?"

You may be semantically correct here, but much like the Hitchcock zoom, it was still authentically and genuinely a Big Deal. Step right this way! Never seen before! You won't believe your eyes!

And props to Brenden for his appreciated clarification.

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