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in defense of
CLOUD ATLAS

It’s amazing how quickly a Hollywood studio can lose faith in a film.

Cloud Atlas was released to much hype and marketing fanfare, but it arrived with mixed reviews from critics and a lukewarm reception from audiences.

Yet to some, myself included, the movie is one of this year’s most radically ambitious releases.

Like Life of Pi, it’s also based on a beloved modern classic novel that many said couldn’t possibly be adapted for the big screen.

Like most tentpole Hollywood big budget spectacles, it was released in a weird midst of box-office hopefuls and Oscar consideration dreams.

But with a budget just North of $100 Million, expectations were high and profits were low.  If it wasn’t for John Carter, this would have gone down as one of the year’s biggest flops.

I believe years from now it will be way more appreciated.

In all full disclosure, I’ve not yet read the novel that this film is based on.  I understand the basics though where the story derives from, and I am able to appreciate the massive task the filmmakers had to bring the story to the screen.

But going into Cloud Atlas cold turkey was one of the more enjoyable cinema events for me this year.

The film is bold, big and, well, at times just downright ballsy.

The cast is mostly A list.  They play numerous characters that range from no speaking role to main character.  They cross the most taboo of all rules in modern cinema, playing different ethnicities through some incredible make-up effects.

The film is set in not just multiple time periods, but spans nearly a 500 year time frame that only sets our modern day somewhere in the middle.  The plot is way too difficult to explain in the space of this blog, nor would you want to ruin the fun of the movie’s storytelling.  And I challenge anyone to fully explain the story to begin with.  The film leaves most of its secrets up to interpretation.

All I know is I was deeply moved by some of it, strangely in awe by most of it and completely entertained through all of it.

I applaud Hugh Grant, Halle Berry and Tom Hanks for especially taking on the risk of a film outside their norm.  Their performances are being completely overlooked by the guilds and academies this season.

If Warner Bros. put half the push on Cloud Atlas that crap like Rise of the Guardians is getting for Oscar this year, there might even be a fighting chance for something more than the craft awards it will be at least nominated for as consolation.

It was nice to see the film so appreciated by one of today’s last remaining great film critics, Roger Ebert, who nails the film’s importance by understanding it’s best not to understand the film at all.  In his review, Cloud Atlas is praised for being the incredible opportunity for the actors and a freeing opportunity for the directors (all three of them) to break the chains of traditional narrative.

Under appreciated films have a tendency to be respected in the future, and in keeping with the spirit of this films’ message, it may just be one to skip a few generations.

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