Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lost in the Cloud Atlas

I don't smoke or drink but after watching the Wachowski's 
"Cloud Atlas" I felt like I was sharing the doobie Tom Hanks 
and Halle Berry passed back and forth during the Luisa Rey 
movement of this filmic symphony.

"Cloud Atlas" is the kind of movie you feel you should dress 

up for - like going to the theater or going to the symphony. And, 
unfortunately, that is the kind of audience it will ultimately draw. 
Atlas requires the type of sophistication and patience a night at 
the opera might require. A film patron will need the forbearance 
and the fortitude to abide as unfamiliar characters and stories
slowly take stage and unfold with no particular urgency.

The viewer is adrift for long passages of this movie, the primary 

flaw being the lack of a notable thru-character to latch on to and 
care about. There are a few linchpins – Doona Bae and Jim Broad-
bent  being particularly striking as the genetically engineered 
fabricant, Sonmi-451, and the vanity publisher and late in life 
swashbuckler, Timothy Cavendish, respectively. Elsewhere 
formidable star power is muted as big name actors such as Tom 
Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Wachowski repertory player, 
Hugo Weaving, frequently disappear under mounds of makeup. 
In fact, one of the delights of the movie is sitting through the end 
credits and being wonderfully surprised by who was playing who.

You have to respect the high ground the Wachowskis are playing 

on and it is doubly nice to see that, as in the Matrix Trilogy, there 
are black people in the future and they fare pretty well.

In the end I must agree with book critic Robert K. J. Kiheffer 

who wrote, "for its pleasures, Cloud Atlas falls short of 
revolutionary." It may not be a masterpiece, but it is a stunning 


Saturday, October 27, 2012

American Gothic Horror Show

Anyone watching the year two reboot of American Horror Story?  I was highly disaffected by the ending of the first cycle which, IMHO, seemed like a cheat - especially after how invested we, the viewers, had become.  We cared.  Cared enough to be disappointed when all the primary characters ended up in kind of a Beetlejuice-esque limbo - without the calypso.  Anywho, last night in the wee hours of the morning, I watched the first two episodes of "Asylum" and, just like Michael Corleone in the Godfather saga, I'm pulled back in again.

Asylum is full of all of the religious and sexual kinks one comes to associate with a Ryan Murphy project - including his PG rated "Glee."  And, of course, there's the monster mash: slasher movies and alien abductions and mad scientist dismemberments and lobotomies all diced up in some cosmic blender.

As in season one Jessica Lang is revelation.  Still exuding a smoldering (if brittle) sexuality at 63, she continues to amaze with her steely precision as an actress. As Mother Superior, she is one twisted sister.