Cloud Atlas is a beautifully woven, unparalleled epic story!

I will admit that I was skeptical.  I had heard that the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell was impossible to adapt to the screen because of its six separate stories, that were told in a Russian doll sort of way–each story nestled into another.  Although I have not read the novel, I was impressed by how writers/directors The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer created one fluid story.  A single narrative that weaves and intertwines the six stories in different time periods and in doing so, they are able to show a wide, ambitious scope that ends on an emotional, personal note.  Brilliant.  I have never seen anything like Cloud Atlas attempted in film before.

Honestly, I was still upset with The Wachowskis over Speed Racer and don’t get me started on the Matrix Trilogy (The Matrix could have been only the beginning–it could have been the Star Wars of the 21st century–it could have…but NO.  Ruined. So sad.)  I loved their ideas and their writing, but had grown cautious of getting too excited because it usually ended in disappointment.  While attending the 2012 Fantastic Fest Film Festival I was fortunate enough to make it into a secret screening, with the Wachowskis in attendance, and was blown away.  (Side note: The Wachowskis are articulate, intelligent and very funny!)

Cloud Atlas is amazing.  Grand and sweeping.  Intimate and very funny.  Small and personal.  Yet, with big themes and over-reaching moral questions.  It addresses humanity, inter-connectivity, transformation and free will.  Yes.  It achieves ALL of that and more.

The visuals are incredible and the style is very Wachowski and Twkwer.  I found myself marveling in the color and images before me.  The cinematography and music wonderfully add to the experience.  From a primitive culture to a futuristic urban landscape–Cloud Atlas never looks artificial.  It is a beautiful universe.  A beautiful universe that makes you question our existence and our connection to each other.

One of the strongest aspect is the acting.  With each actor responsible for 4 to 6 distinct characters, it is truly a study in the craft and with the impressive cast it does not fail to entertain.  Tom Hanks (my crush intensifies), Halle Berry (strong turnout), Jim Broadbent (scene-stealing good), Hugo Weaving (best, unexpected role), Jim Sturgess (beautiful performances), Doona Bae (haunting) and the many others must have had a blast with this.  It is an actor’s dream to have this kind of opportunity (I would think) and be able to show their range.

Now, I am sure that many will find problems with Cloud Atlas.  They may find it too big–too sweeping.  They may not like the multiple roles on display.  They may not appreciate the connected stories. But, all I can tell you is that I LOVE when I am able to lose myself completely in a film and that is what happened that day.  I was lost and taken on a journey that will stick with me for a long time.

I am already waiting, excitedly, to watch it again.  I am sure there are many things that I did not catch the first time and it will be fun to try to see what other surprises I can discover.  That’s awesome because that is  what I love about movies–finding new things every time I visit them and the good ones are the ones you want to visit over and over.

Love this commentary and trailer!  Can’t wait for everyone to see it!  I look forward to hearing all of your opinions…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWgkQP2rtzk

 

Thank you, Nora Ephron. You voice will be missed…

1941 –  June 26, 2012

I am not a romantic. Not in the purest sense of the word. But underneath my cynicism there was a bit of hope.  That hope was given to me by Nora Ephron.

The first time I watched When Harry Met SallyI was 18 years old and already a “realist” when it came to romantic love.  This film spoke to many of my forming ideas and made me think, laugh and cry. Maybe love was real.  Not only real, but plausible.  Why? Because Harry and Sally were flawed and neurotic and they found each other. Therefore, I may have a chance and she was right–I did find love.

To this day, it is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I quote it regularly and find comfort watching it.  For me, it set the standard for what romantic comedies should be–smart, witty and based on some sort of reality and I still enjoy the ones that follow the pattern more than the others.

(I also blame her for my intense crush on Tom Hanks.  Sleepless in Seattle made me want to marry him. 😀  And most recently, Julie and Julia made me want to learn how to cook french food–à la Julia Child.)

Ms. Ephron had a unique voice.  She created characters that felt like real people–people we could relate to–people we knew–or people we would like to know.  Her wit and strength were clear in every word she wrote, whether it was for a novel, essay, blog or a film.

Better than my words, check out this wonderful tribute reel at The Huffington Post.  They collected some great videos celebrating Ephron’s life and spirit.  If you are not familiar with her work now is the time to check out the legacy she has left for generations to enjoy.

Rest in peace and again, thank you.  Thank you for all the laughs and the forever memories.

 

My Tom Hanks crush only intensifies after watching Larry Crowne

Those who know me, know that I will marry Tom Hanks in an instant!  He is awesome! Funny, intelligent, warm, gentle, and…just plain wonderful!  So, maybe I am not objective enough to say anything bad about Larry Crowne, but I can’t see how I could.  But I know some will not love it.  Why?  Because it is NOT a typical Hollywood movie. 

Directed by Hanks and written by Hanks and the lovely Nia Vardalos, it is a simple story told without the usual Hollywood trimmings.  No sex, no drugs, no brooding teenagers, no robots or vampires and not even an ounce of violence.  What it does have is hope and optimism.  No wonder it is getting mixed reviews! 

I loved all the characters introduced in this quiet little universe.  They were real.  (I even liked Julia Roberts, who most of the time I tolerate but never like.) The film takes its time.  You are an observer granted access to this man’s life, which at times could make you laugh and/or cry.

And it all comes down to Tom Hanks.  He is believable, funny and perfect as an average joe who is fired from his job and is forced to rebuild his life.  Today any of us can be in Larry Crowne’s situation, if only we could all respond with the dignity and determination he does, maybe then we will be alright.