Cloud Atlas

In Defense of the Good

A ripping yarn, and when's the last time we've seen one of those?
Reported on 2nd of July, 2013

In any case, and since this is part of my half-assed and belated award ceremony, it is my sworn duty to champion decent filmmaking,

Cloud Atlas

2 July 2013 @ Dukes at Komedia

$15.50 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★


TheLeonardLeonard Award Winner for Lifetime Editing Achievement:
Cloud Atlas

since the mass audiences see no difference between Oz The Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer, just as critics are unable to see the difference between The Raven and Battleship.  The former doesn’t know care about stories that can be told and watched again, and the second, oh right, same thing.  The point is that there has to be a self-appointed (not so much oxymoronic as solipsistic) hero, yeah, hero, that’s what I am, who just wants good movies.  Cloud Atlas has nothing to say about the bigger issues of humanity.  Leave that to Wall•E or Ted.

But I like pleasure, and I like it without shame.  Except for all the shame that makes it so pleasurable, of course.   There’s all this nonsense about Cloud Atlas and whether it’s successful as a whole, and if we get it and if it has themes, whatever those are.  Even the late great Mr. Roger Ebert, one of the few who understood there was some there there, sought an explanation.  But ultimately who cares?  It’s fucking fun.  What everyone has seemed to miss is that this impossible mess of filmmakers, nutty makeup effect artists, and CGI wackos has managed to make something work out of six stories, and work well.  It doesn’t mean anything, any more than The Leopard does, or What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  It’s a ripping yarn, and when’s the last time we’ve seen one of those?

If you didn't like it, fine, I get that, he said using a phrase that oozed tolerance, which, by the way, is a word that oozes contempt. That's why we have to practice it so much.

Now I’ve given up on critics a long time ago, and I don’t care what they say, with all the attendant trust every time you hear in the phrase ‘I don’t care’.   So I get that they wouldn’t like Cloud Atlas, just as they didn’t Speed Racer, but for totally different reasons.  The first is great storytelling, the second great visuals, and both a tad revolutionary in their way, which is an oxymoronic way of saying very unique.  Speed Racer is a story nightmare, about as tension-less as an episode of Speed Racer, just with mind-altering visual overload.

And if you didn’t like Cloud Atlas, fine, I get that, he said using a phrase that oozed tolerance, which, by the way, is a word that oozes contempt.  That’s why we have to practice it so much.  Cloud Atlas is weird, the stories don’t actually relate to each other, and the choice to use the same actors is, if nothing else, an odd one.  But at least acknowledge that you understood what was going on.  They were cutting between six stories, with the same actors, in different time periods, and you understood what was going on.  No doubt you think that something transparent is easy, and something metaphorical is hard.

The Komedia screen brings out the best and the worst in film.  Also the most mediocre.  But nothing in between.

The Komedia screen brings out the best and the worst in film. Also the most mediocre. But nothing in between.

The success at intercutting would be enough, but Cloud Atlas does more than this, and I’m not even sure how.  It takes the story moments, which don’t really have a lot to do with one other, and cuts on the arc.  The stories are not the same, but they have their highs and lows and rhythms, and somehow the film finds them and exploit them.  It furthermore has the confidence, and this is a novelistic device so rarely used in film, to cutaway before a scene has resolved – leaving us in a state of tension – only to return 10, 20, 30 minutes later, and we still know where we are.  It is a master course on editing, something like The Matrix and Speed Racer that hasn’t been seen before, and shame on you, shame on you for not even noticing.

Which I suppose is the point.  It is the invisible that is the true accomplishment.  Which makes me the champion of the invisible; how much do I love that?  Let the second group of idiots of whom I spoke champion the obvious, tired metaphors, literary references, and pointless single takes of the likes of Django Unchained and The Place Beyond the Pines.  Let the first group of idiots champion the random, since no one seems to notice the difference between a film that has a big opening weekend, and one that sustains its pull.   There has to be someone to enjoy the enjoyable.

A Hero.


Mr. Hugh Grant went way out on a limb and…what happens at the end of this metaphor? What are you looking for? Fruit? So Mr. Grant went way out on a limb and got the best fruit ever.
Each character makes a real mistake at the beginning, which is another novelistic character trait. So, @ $1.00 per mistake
Not boring. That’s the word I’m looking for. In German, it’s one word.
Total Profits


This is a strange thing to say for a film that goes everywhere, but I didn’t like where it started. Maybe if they projected it from a Möbius strip
Total Losses


Thoughts on Cloud Atlas

  1. Mary says:

    I liked Cloud Atlas, I thought it was pretty. Like a dream. Or a series of dreams, or clouds. Does the title refer to a road map by which to navigate the various dreams that the movie meandered through, thereby rather scoffing at the masses that expect ‘plot twists’ and stories that make sense (more truthfully, pretend to make sense), until the last half hour when everyone just want to end the movie and go home?
    I think you meant above that you did not need a damn atlas to just enjoy the daydreams of Cloud Atlas, which are clearly, pretty much about love, with a bunch of cool costumes. (Which was your favorite, and why?) The film simply begs the age-old question: do you have the balls to actually love?

  2. Scott Scott says:

    That balls are where love come from seems to be the age old answer (the Greeks thought it was the spleen). There’s some love stuff in there and some courage and that gets me teared up a bit I admit (should see it again). But I think it’s just damn fine filmmaking, which just keeps the viewer, or me, engaged. If you were to explain the plot (s), people would simply go ‘huh’? It just moves, which is a rarity.

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