Cloud Atlas Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski Written by: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski (screenplay), David Mitchell (novel) Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving
Tom Hanks and Halle Berry have come unstuck in time. Over the course of Cloud Atlas’ wildly ambitious 172 minutes, the two mainstream Hollywood actors and a plethora of others- Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant- appear as wildly different characters in just as wildly different time periods, from California in 1973 to post-apocalyptic Hawaii hundreds of years from now.
The six varying and intersecting narrative threads in Cloud Atlas are stunningly shot and at times narratively captivating. As adapted by Andy and Lana Wachowki and Tom Tykwer (who all co-wrote and directed), it amounts to a beautiful mess. There are too many narrative threads and characters to begin with, and adding poor execution and editing to that just makes it worse.
I hated Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it. The first Tarantino movie I’d ever seen was Kill Bill: Vol. 1, which is a decidedly gorier and altogether more accessible movie for an eighth grader (technically I wasn’t legally “mature enough” for either by the MPAA’s standards), although I was the only one in my grade who seemed to enjoy it. When I watched Pulp Fiction for a second (and a third and a fourth ad infinitum) viewing, it gripped me like few other movies had before or since. To this day it is still one of my all-time favorites.
Movies, especially great ones, often change from viewing to viewing, not because they are different but because we are. Though we now live in an age of Rotten Tomato blurbs and aggregated consensus, a critic’s most valued possession is still their written voice. With every review now posted quickly and then archived online, conversation on most movies usually peaks quickly when they are first released, and then dissipates just as fast. The only time afforded to looking back is the annual “Best of the Year” cluster fuck.
V for Vendetta Directed by: James McTeigue Written by: Andy & Larry Wachowski (screenplay), Alan Moore (graphic novel) Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, John Hurt, and Stephen Rea
You can’t blame Alan Moore for not wanting his name put on adaptations of his graphic novels. It all began with the atrocious adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the tradition carried on with the below-average take on his most renowned work, Watchmen. In between those two garbage heaps though, one of his graphic novels was given justice. That movie was V for Vendetta (300 was just pretty.)
Though the Wachowski Brothers switch the focus of the novel to represent restrained rebellion against government rather than all-out anarchy, the movie still moves along with a purposeful pace and terrific action sequences. Moore was still outraged at their nerve, and again, you can’t really blame him. Unlike the other adaptations though, this one was made with more than a cash-in in mind.