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Cloud Atlas


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#1

TWoP Gadget

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Posted Oct 26, 2012 @ 12:18 AM

'Cloud Atlas' explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.



#2

Colonel Green

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Posted Oct 26, 2012 @ 7:04 PM

I liked it as a whole, though for all that it gets praised for ambition it's appreciably much less so than the book. Obviously, many of the changes are just because we need to keep the running time to about 3 hours as it is, but others aren't time-necessitated, they're about more obvious/"relatable" payoffs for the presumed-to-be-simplistic audience (unfortunately, not a totally unreasonable assumption). To an extent, I guess they're trying to impose greater thematic unity on a book that was usually pretty opaque about the connections -- this is most notable in Cavendish's segment, where he gets a love interest for no reason other than to tie the conclusion more in with the other segments, and in Sonmi's, where they make such an enormous change to the end.
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#3

pemyquid

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Posted Oct 26, 2012 @ 7:48 PM

Saw it in a nearly empty theater today, first showing. I have not read the book nor even heard of it but was intrigued by the previews. I thought it was very interesting though the overarching themes weren't terribly complicated. I was kind of confused initially about certain parts, like trying to decipher when the most futuristic story actually took place (i wondered at first if they were Vikings in North America) and the dialectical speech. Im not terribly sure exactly what Nomni was or the guy was - was he fully human? But I didn't mind that and it was fun to try to piece it all together. I could tell the actors must have had a great time playing the different characters, although does that guy from the Matrix movies ever play any other type? Hugh Grant and the elderly gent especially seemed to be having a ball. It took me until the very end to realize the same actress who played Nomni also played the earliest guy's wife and the sister in the future. Good makeup and cinematography.
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#4

cherry malotte

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Posted Oct 27, 2012 @ 4:22 PM

Hmm...I liked it, and I appreciated it - but I didn't outright love it. Particularly the future stories worked for me, but they could have lost the Cavendish portion and it would have made sense. Doona is my new fave actress, put a couple of her films in my Netflix queue to check out, I find her to be a very compelling actress.

Could also say that unlike some long films where I do start getting a bit impatient and wishing I was the editor I really didn't feel that way with this one. And as much as you feel that way about Hugo Weaving pemyquid, I'm getting the same vibe off of Jim Broadbent, seen it and done that. He's a great actor, just seems to be phoning it in lately.

Edited by cherry malotte, Oct 27, 2012 @ 4:22 PM.

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#5

ghetto hood rat

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Posted Oct 28, 2012 @ 3:47 PM

I loved it and really wish it was doing better, though I think it will do fine internationally. I was surprised at how fast it went-it absolutely did not feel like three hours at all. I thought the post-apocalyptic session with Hanks and Berry was the weakest one, and I agree with the above poster that Doona Bae was wonderful in this and I want to see her in more movies. All the actors seemed like they were having fun and it was fun to watch. I think this is guaranteed at minimum to have a long lasting cult following. I'm really glad it was made- box office success or failure, at least the directors and actors took a chance and I think it paid off.

Edited by ghetto hood rat, Oct 28, 2012 @ 3:50 PM.

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#6

Redtracer

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Posted Oct 28, 2012 @ 4:06 PM

I'm a little torn. Sometimes, I was totally enraptured by it, while at other points, I was bored out of my mind. That really surprised me, considering that I read the book and liked all the sections pretty equally. But some of them definitely worked better on screen than others; the Cavendish story, in particular, doesn't translate well at all in terms of cohesion. I was a bit disappointed by how similar all the stories looked: polished and modern. This is in contrast to the book, where each section had a completely different voice from every other section. I would have loved to see the filmmakers take the "separate stories" concept even farther and really mix up the film styles. Maybe the Frobisher section could have been shot in black and white, or the Luisa section filmed in a gritty 70s style, ala The China Syndrome or The Conversation. I imagine that Tywker and the Wachowskis were shooting for cohesion, and while I can understand that, I think that whole movie overall could have benefited from a bit more imagination.

Ben Whishaw as Frobisher was easily best in show for me, and I'm really glad that they brought Sixsmith into that story, rather than just keeping him as the unseen recipient of Frobisher's letters. It made the emotional payoff much stronger. I do wish they would have dropped the futuristic/primitive dialect in the Zachry story, though. It's one of those things that doesn't work as well on screen on it does on the page.

Edited by Redtracer, Oct 28, 2012 @ 4:23 PM.

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#7

chailey

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Posted Oct 28, 2012 @ 5:40 PM

Read the book and enjoyed the film. I wasn't bored at all. I was irritated that many of Tom Hank's lines were mumbled, especially as Henry Goose and Zachary. Neither he nor Halle Berry made the futuristic polyglot speech sound natural. I didn't mind many of the changes although the ending was much cheerier than that of the book. More hopeful, anyway. Enjoyed Frobisher, Sonmi, and Cavendish the most. The editing from story to story was really marvelous, especially in the second half.

The showing I went to was mostly empty, but then, so was the theater as a whole--everyone in my area is getting ready for Frankenstorm.
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#8

ikar

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Posted Nov 3, 2012 @ 10:52 PM

I do wish they would have dropped the futuristic/primitive dialect in the Zachry story, though. / Neither he nor Halle Berry made the futuristic polyglot speech sound natural.

As someone who didn't read the book, I found the movie very interesting, it didn't feel too long, and was intrigued with the stories. But - I was just LOST with the "after the Fall" section. The language was just ... I was just rolling with the idea of the scene instead of grasping exactly what was going on. No idea what her laser beam message said or where it went, or where they ended up, or why they had to leave Earth.

The Cavendish section was fun- I enjoyed most of Hugh Grant's parts for some reason. I had no idea he was in this movie. (I never saw the trailers; just was heavily persuaded by word of mouth from a close friend to see it "open minded.") I think the movie was helped by having a "light" section like this, a different take on 'loss of freedom' that countered the Sonmi 451 and Autua sections.

I'm totally curious about Doona Bae and what else she has done. From my POV, it was her story and Zachry's that was the heart of the movie.

I found the Cloud Atlas wiki to help me figure out character names, though as I read that wiki, it seems some of the stories changed in the movie? Normally I pick up the novel before I see the movie; didn't do it this time.

I know the actors probably loved doing the multiple parts and looks/ make-up ... but I didn't think Sturgess or Weaving (as Nurse Noakes and in the Fabricant section) looked good at all.

Very small matinee crowd ~ maybe a dozen people?~ but I hope more viewers find/ discover the movie.
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#9

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Posted Nov 5, 2012 @ 10:49 PM

I enjoyed the movie overall, but I did glance at my watch a couple of times near the end. I was inspired to buy a copy of the book, to see what I missed. I'm about a third of the way through, and a couple of things are still puzzling me:

Were the later characters played by the same actors meant to be reincarnations of the earlier ones, or were the multiple roles just meant to showcase the actors' (and the makeup artists') versatility? Or to make some kind of point about the fluidity of gender or racial identity?

The characters in New Seoul see a snippet of a film titled "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish." Timothy is seen reading a Luisa Rey mystery. Luisa finds Frobisher's letters, and Frobisher finds Adam Ewing's journal. Does this mean only the two dystopias are "real" and the other four stories are either films or literary creations?

The least satisfying section was Zachry's story, and I'm willing to blame my own desire for clarity. I didn't like being uncertain about what I was seeing. I thought it was the past, with Halle Berry as a time traveler from the future. And was Old Georgie supposed to be the devil, or just a very nasty person?

I saw this on a Friday afternoon, and I would guess the theater was one third to one half full. I hope this finds an audience--I really want someone to discuss it with!
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#10

chailey

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Posted Nov 6, 2012 @ 1:24 PM

Were the later characters played by the same actors meant to be reincarnations of the earlier ones, or were the multiple roles just meant to showcase the actors' (and the makeup artists') versatility? Or to make some kind of point about the fluidity of gender or racial identity?

They were supposed to be reincarnations, though that theme was only vaguely hinted at in the book.

The characters in New Seoul see a snippet of a film titled "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish." Timothy is seen reading a Luisa Rey mystery. Luisa finds Frobisher's letters, and Frobisher finds Adam Ewing's journal. Does this mean only the two dystopias are "real" and the other four stories are either films or literary creations?

It is often viewed that way. I say "often" because my own interpretation is that the neighbor kid wrote Luisa's (true) story when he grew up (under a different name). In the book, Cavendish sees the manuscript and thinks its rubbish. Cavendish writes his own story of his escape, which is then made into a film which Sonmi views far in the future. Thus, all of the stories are real. That's my take, FWIW.

Sonmi's story was much longer and more complex in the book as well--they simplified and changed it a great deal in the film.

The least satisfying section was Zachry's story, and I'm willing to blame my own desire for clarity. I didn't like being uncertain about what I was seeing. I thought it was the past, with Halle Berry as a time traveler from the future. And was Old Georgie supposed to be the devil, or just a very nasty person?

Zachry's story is set in the future, when the planet has been poisoned/mostly destroyed. It takes place after Sonmi's. Sonmi is worshipped as a goddess in Zachry's time and there is no recognition that she was once a real person. Hence, his dismay when Halle Barry's character tells him that she lived long ago. Technological civilization had collapsed over a hundred years ago when Zachry's story takes place. Halle Barry's character is a member of a small group that had escaped worldwide devastation and still had use of and knowledge of technology. You can view Old Georgie as either the Devil, or that part of the human character that is evil, personified.

The ending in the film is considerably more upbeat than that of the book. I loved the book--the language and writing style changes drastically from chapter to chapter and era to era. I didn't think that the multiple uses of the actors was necessary at all and was distracting on some level. That said, I enjoyed the film very much and am sorry that it has bombed so radically at the box office.
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#11

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Posted Nov 7, 2012 @ 6:50 PM

my own interpretation is that the neighbor kid wrote Luisa's (true) story when he grew up (under a different name). In the book, Cavendish sees the manuscript and thinks its rubbish. Cavendish writes his own story of his escape, which is then made into a film which Sonmi views far in the future. Thus, all of the stories are real. That's my take, FWIW.


I figured this was also arguable but was having a hard time seeing how "movie" Cavendish could be reconciled with "real life" Cavendish. Thanks for the explanation.

Zachry's story is set in the future, when the planet has been poisoned/mostly destroyed. It takes place after Sonmi's. Sonmi is worshipped as a goddess in Zachry's time and there is no recognition that she was once a real person. Hence, his dismay when Halle Barry's character tells him that she lived long ago. Technological civilization had collapsed over a hundred years ago when Zachry's story takes place. Halle Barry's character is a member of a small group that had escaped worldwide devastation and still had use of and knowledge of technology. You can view Old Georgie as either the Devil, or that part of the human character that is evil, personified.

I realized at the end of the movie that we were looking at the future, but the movie is kind of coy about this.
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#12

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Posted Nov 7, 2012 @ 10:45 PM

I missed some of the connections between the stories. For example, I didn't know the kid grew up to write a book. But the connections didn't interest me as much as other things. There were many times when I was watching one story while feeling an emotional impact and thinking about what had happened seconds earlier in another story, and that was what really made it special. It was pretty overwhelming with the genre mix and quick cuts and I loved the feeling of being lost at times.
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#13

chailey

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Posted Nov 8, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

For example, I didn't know the kid grew up to write a book.

That is one of the popular theories of the whole Luisa Rey/Timothy Cavendish connection, but it is never implicitly said in the novel that the kid grew up and wrote the Luisa Rey story. The author's name on the manuscript is different than the kid's name for one thing. The author leaves it up to the reader to decide how/whether they connect. Maybe I just don't like the idea that only Sonmi and Zachry's stories are "real".
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#14

Colonel Green

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Posted Nov 9, 2012 @ 2:36 PM

The book is intentionally vague on what the connections are. The Rey segment includes that whole spiel by Tom Hanks' character on different kinds of pasts and futures, for instance, that suggests another possibility beyond straight reincarnation (which would be difficult as well because Luisa and Timothy's lives would have overlapped).
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#15

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Posted Nov 10, 2012 @ 4:41 AM

I noticed that Moviefone and a lot of other places are giving the runtime as 164 minutes instead of 172 minutes. I assume the shorter time does not include the end credits and maybe they're afraid advertising the longer time will scare people away. But I've never noticed other movies having alternate runtimes.

I saw the trailer twice in the theater before the movie was released and it didn't impress me at all. But when I watch it now, after seeing the movie, it triggers a surprisingly strong emotional reaction which means I really need to see "Cloud Atlas" again soon.
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#16

KatWay

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Posted Nov 30, 2012 @ 9:01 AM

I just watched this movie and was completely amazed by it. I don't necessarily think it's the best movie ever - it got incredibly clunky towards the end with its heavyhanded message, subtlety, thy name is not Cloud Atlas - and I felt that some of the things it changed from the book would have been better unchanged (plus too much gore for my taste), but on the whole, I just LOVE that a movie like this gets made.

That's why it saddens me immensely that it's doing so badly at the box office - Movies like this should get made and while I love your average popcorn movie blockbuster, I want to watch something more unusual and unique once in a while.
I mean it's doing fairly well in my country and the theatre was FULL when I went to see it, but it would have to do a lot better to even be considered a moderate success.
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#17

KatWay

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Posted Dec 5, 2012 @ 6:36 AM

Worst Movie of 2012?

Fuck you, Time Magazine. In a year that featured movies like Battleship?
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#18

chailey

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Posted Dec 6, 2012 @ 1:46 PM

Worst Movie of 2012?

Fuck you, Time Magazine. In a year that featured movies like Battleship?



Now that's just freaking ridiculous. This was a love it or hate it movie. The fact that many critics hated it doesn't really justify any sort of "worst of year designation", since there were an equal number of critics that thought it was outstanding. The filmmakers should at least get some credit for having ambition, rather than getting lumped in with movies that aimed low and achieved that standard.
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#19

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Posted May 27, 2013 @ 12:25 AM

My son absolutely loved this movie, so he bought the dvd today and we watched it together.  It was big and weird and ambitious and unlike anything I've ever seen, so I really enjoyed it.  I agree with the posters upthread who said the future language was hard to understand, but my boy was able to be my translator.  (And tell me when to cover my eyes -- yeesh!  I didn't expect the "Soylent Green is people!!!" line to be a reoccurring theme!) On a shallow note, Halle Berry, who is my number one girl crush, was absolutely foxy in her seventies incarnation.


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#20

Paramitch

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Posted Jun 1, 2013 @ 10:31 AM

I loved it. I recognize that it's big and sprawling and wildly uneven. It's overlong, the repeated actors don't always work in all roles, and some of the film felt too short while other storylines felt too long.
 
But I didn't care. I loved it. I saw the flaws and loved it anyway. I loved the unexpected connections, the hints that past evil deeds affected not one but multiple futures; I loved the idea of visibly seeing these same souls on twisting paths through the universe, culminating in that gorgeous speech by Sonmi (and I adored her entire arc; so disturbing and heartbreaking, yet beautiful). I could totally understand why the actors, reading this, would instantly want to take part. It is so different from anything else out there, and truly takes chances that, for those seeking something different or expansive, really do pay off.
 
I loved the future-story of Hanks and Berry, and I didn't mind the patois by Hanks and his tribe because it was needed to demonstrate the gulf between the two. I found it fascinating -- this intelligent man who is childlike merely due to culture and circumstance -- suddenly set against and with this futuristic woman. I loved watching him grow and evolve visibly to catch up with her.
 
With that said, the only thing I actively hated (and I mean, HAAAATED) was Hugo Weaving in this, and the sad thing is, I usually adore him.
 
I just think he was wrong casting from the get-go. And that the makeup and costumes were another rare wrong point with his 'devil on the shoulder' character. I found it silly and tiresome and repetitive and his performances completely over the top. They just weren't necessary. Or if Weaving's 'devil' had still been included, I wish he'd appeared instead as more loving and obviously angelic as a twist. The fact that he is patently evil just removes all suspense. It was, to quote Buffy, "The subtext rapidly becoming text!" Although on the plus side, I didn't mind him in the hit-man role. But as the nurse and devil, I thought he was awful. Hugh Grant kind of had the same problem for me. I didn't mind him being some supervillain type once or twice but is that always all he will ever be? I wish we'd seen even a glimmer that he could have been more. 
 
But I loved the rest of the actors, and Halle Berry looked so luminous and gorgeous here. This is one of my favorite performances by her.
 
I loved the movie's (and I assume, the book's) desire to get us to think, to reevaluate relationships and how they factor into the larger tapestry. It made me think about repeated mistakes and imagine a universe in which they continued to recur. (Note: I don't believe in any of that but it's fun to imagine.)  Also, the cannibalism subtext that recurred was also genuinely creepy and sad -- the idea that the strong eat the weak, over and over again -- it got to me and emphasized that the only thing setting humans apart from animals is their desire to rise above their basest instincts.
 

ghetto hood rat: I'm really glad it was made- box office success or failure, at least the directors and actors took a chance and I think it paid off. 

 

That was how I felt. And in a world in which 8 out of 10 movies are just incredibly bad and aimed directly at teenaged boys (dumb ones), I wish more people did the same.

Cosmos2: There were many times when I was watching one story while feeling an emotional impact and thinking about what had happened seconds earlier in another story, and that was what really made it special. It was pretty overwhelming with the genre mix and quick cuts and I loved the feeling of being lost at times. 

 

That's beautifully said, and I felt similarly. I mean, I already want to see it again.
 
 

KatWay: Fuck you, Time Magazine. In a year that featured movies like Battleship

 

 
Seriously. That was just silly of them, and made TIME look stupid. Love it or hate it, I just cannot conceive of someone looking at this film and seeing nothing but drek with no redeemable moments; I just can't. It was made by people who had something to say, who wanted to do something different, and whether or not they succeeded 100% of the time, I salute everyone involved. 

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#21

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Posted Jun 2, 2013 @ 12:22 AM

I saw this yesterday. It wasn't horribly confusing like I expected it to be. I did have to watch it twice though to catch all of the linking stories, but it wasn't a terrible movie. I thought it was okay.

 

I enjoyed Sonmi-451/Commander Chang and Zach/Meronym's stories the most. However, I didn't understand why the Union picked Sonmi as the voice/face of the revolution. Why did they think she was their last hope? And why did they think she'd rise to the occassion? I also questioned how Luisa could've been a reincarnation of Ayrs' wife when the timeline of their lives could've easily overlapped.

 

The demon whispering in Zach's ear was a bit much. I think the story worked fine without it. Loved the parallels between Commander Chang and Sonmi trying to escape the Company soldiers and Ewing trying to save Autua.

 

I didn't buy into the theme that even our most minute choices have a significant impact on the universe. However, I did find the movie's exploration of human oppression and exploitation interesting.


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#22

Paramitch

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Posted Sep 27, 2013 @ 10:45 AM

Enero, my impression was that they had been desperately (and with understandable cynicism) cultivating fabricants for their cause, and that they had picked Sonmi's friend Yoona first (the one who dies for the cause early on), and that she had told them about Sonmi as a potential ally. Then she died, so they moved on to Sonmi as they had no other options. And Sonmi -- luckily -- rose to the occasion.

 

As far as Luisa being Ayrs's wife, that was early 1940s, right? I assumed she passed away early and unhappily, which would make the timeline about right for the 70s incarnation of Luisa to appear and kick some butt.

 

I forgot to add before how much I loved D'Arcy in this as Sixsmith and as the Archivist. He made a huge impression on me both as a young character, an old character, and as a character whose entire journey is internal, but whose outcome we can read in his eyes. He was superb in this.

 

I liked that the minute choices impacted events, but I liked that the big choices rippled visibly forward -- a character does evil and we see a notable relapse in misery or nobility -- a character acts nobly and we see them move onward. The big turning point for Hanks's character is definitely the sweet scientist who falls for Berry the first time.

 

What was interesting for me upon rewatch was the realization that Hugo Weaving's character is on a direct opposition to Hanks's -- he starts out as being somewhat benign, even sympathetic in his unspoken love for the composer's wife -- then we see him as hit man then sadistic nurse (I may have these reversed) then as the actual incarnation of the devil in the far future. The guy makes the wrong (selfish) choice every time. It made him more interesting to me and at least relieved the one-note-ness of his performance as the Future-Devil character.

 

Also, the music in this is so gorgeous. Beautiful score.

 

(ETA: I goofed on Luisa as Ayrs's wife at first -- I was all mixed up and somehow thought you were referring to Ewing.)


Edited by Paramitch, Sep 28, 2013 @ 11:00 AM.

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#23

Paramitch

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Posted Oct 23, 2013 @ 11:40 AM

I just wanted to add that this is a movie that truly rewards repeated viewing, and I'm more convinced than ever that the often brutal critical response was undeserved.

 

I really enjoyed it the first time -- I watched it, thought it was both awkward and gorgeous... then the weirdest thing happened. I couldn't stop thinking about it.  It kept occurring to me.  So I rented it again a month later... and then bought it, and have since watched it several more times, and each time, truly, I've fallen more in love with the film.

 

The makeup at first I found distracting and not always successful, but after repeated viewings, it doesn't bother me at all, because I think the makeup does its job, which is to make these people believable as different people in different time periods, while still recognizable underneath (so that we can make the connection that the actor is the throughline of the 'soul' moving forward). So, to me, while we see a woman with delicate Asian features (Doona Bae) as Ewing's wife Tilda, my fanwank is that nobody else sees this. We see it because Bae's is the face of her 'soul.'

 

I also have to admit that I don't hate Weaving in it anymore either. I actually find him a lot of fun in it, and I do think it's interesting from a story standpoint that by the end, he is no longer even a whole person anymore -- just the fragmented shadow of Tom Hanks's soul. It's as if he will never be able to evolve at all, he's too black with sin to be anything more than an evil thought.

 

Meanwhile, the little details are simply amazing once you catch them. Each successive story directly calls back to the story before them, with the character becoming fascinated on a personal level with that story:

 

  1. Ewing's story opens the action
  2. Frobisher reads Ewing's journal
  3. Luisa reads Frobisher's letters
  4. Cavendish reads the mystery story about Luisa
  5. Sonmi views the film based on Cavendish's memoir with both Yoona and Hae Joo
  6. Zachry sees Sonmi speak of her revelations in Meronym's orison

 

I also love the way all the little details tie together. The fact that Frobisher's record label is "MERONYM." That it begins and ends with acts of heroism from a sea of cannibalism and strife. That the violinist in the future is Ayrs (playing the very same melody he couldn't stop thinking about centuries earlier).

 

Or that, for instance, Tom Hanks's character 'steals' the Ewing waistcoat (or just the beautiful gemlike button) in almost all of his onscreen incarnations -- culminating with Zachry in the very last story (who stole it from his brother-in-law's offering plate). He wears the necklace he makes from the gem until the end, when it breaks and "frees" him during his fight with the Kona. (We never see Weaving's 'devil' again after that, too...)

 

Interestingly, I read the book after I watched it, and while I appreciated it and thought it was brilliant, many of the story outcomes are not as satisfying (and Sonmi's is brutally cynical and bleak). The filmmakers' use of actors in multiple roles I thought also added a rich connection between the stories that was lacking for me in print. I finished the book even more impressed with what the filmmakers had dared to do.

 

It's the first movie in a very long time that not only bore up under multiple viewings (and it's not something I do a lot these days with movies), but it had something to say. The people who made this film wanted to make people think, and I love that.

 


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