William's Review of Cloud Atlas
This movie breaks rating frameworks. Ebert gushed about it, many critics panned it, but no matter how flawed you'll think it is, it's tough to imagine that you won't have thought it was worth seeing, if just because Cloud Atlas is a singularly ambitious film. Definitively, a much better book (one of my favorite ever) than movie. The Wachowski brothers (Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) got together to film the unfilmable book, Cloud Atlas, a book that features six interwoven genre stories from different periods of human history, a book held together by a single author's virtuoso writing. The resultant movie reflects their ambition, their talent, and their task's impossibility. Moments in this movie operate like nothing else in any movie, six stories crescendoing at once, the perspective splicing back and forth each few seconds, challenging your ability to keep up, to keep track, and at times, pushing your attention past analysis to awe. I openly question whether someone who has not read the book could keep a handle on the movie's plot. Other aspects stick in your craw: the casting of a mediocre Korean actress who speaks unintelligible English into a position that requires her to speak quite a bit, the choice to have actors play roles across each story, a choice that results in Tom Hanks playing a chavvy Brit gangster or Hugo Weaving the old person's home equivalent of a Brunhilda Ratchett or dozens of awkward prosthetic-wearing racial-FX wielding performances - interesting, I guess, but it fails to do much else but take the viewer out of it and serve as bait for the race police and everyone who doesn't understand what racism is.
Ebert's review snippet:
Surely this is one of the most ambitious films ever made. The little world of film criticism has been alive with interpretations of it, which propose to explain something that lies outside explanation. Any explanation of a work of art must be found in it, not taken to it. As a film teacher, I was always being told by students that a film by David Lynch, say, or Warner Herzog, was "a retelling of the life of Christ, say, or 'Moby Dick.' " My standard reply was: Maybe it's simply the telling of itself.
But, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema. And what an opportunity for the actors. And what a leap by the directors, who free themselves from the chains of narrative continuity."