Press-Republican

Columns

November 1, 2012

'Cloud Atlas' amusing, sometimes confusing

It’s been 13 years since the Wachowskis, Andy and Lana (formerly Larry), burst onto the Hollywood scene with “The Matrix,” and it’s been four years since they’ve made a movie (“Speed Racer”) of any kind.

“Cloud Atlas” is their bold, ambitious attempt to recapture that “Matrix” mojo. It falls short of that goal, but the time-jumping epic makes for an entertaining three-hour investment at the theater.

Based on British writer David Mitchell’s 2004 best-seller, “Cloud Atlas” must have been one of those books that was deemed unfilmable, until the Wachowskis — along with director/composer Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) — actually managed to do it.

The movie weaves together a dizzying six different stories and timelines, starting in the South Pacific in the mid-1800s and reaching into the 24th century.

The six stories interlock, and the film cuts between them constantly. Additionally, the same actors appear in different roles in all, or most, of the different stories, often varying their age, race and sex. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, for instance, each play six different parts, while Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”) plays a villain in every scenario.

If it sounds confusing, well, it is. Everything sort of ties together eventually, in a sketchy kind of karmic way. Even now, I don’t quite understand everything, but I’m OK with that. It was an interesting ride.

“Cloud Atlas” is pretentious at times, without a doubt, but it’s never ponderous. Some of the six stories are less interesting than others, but you’re never more than a few minutes away from returning to one of the good ones.

The story set in the England of today is the funniest, with Jim Broadbent playing a publisher locked in a prison-like retirement home. Another lively story, based in 1973 San Francisco, features Berry as an investigative journalist taking on a dangerous corporate head (Hugh Grant). The storyline set in 2144 Neo-Seoul offers romance between a revolutionary (Jim Burgess) and a cloned waitress slave, and has some exhilarating Matrix-brand action.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time