Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CLOUD ATLAS: visually arresting, unbearably pretentous

I had a chance to see "Cloud Atlas" last night, something that was , in essence, a three hour tour of your own living room.This movie was ambitious, a delight to look at and thoroughly pretentious . The actors gave uniformly fine performances and the design of the whole enterprise had a nice feel and look, but it was long , long , long, and finally made laborious by a vague pedanticism , a lecturing quality conveyed  continually when spotlighted characters happens to have an "a ha" experience in which things are revealed give a little speech about the interconnections between people and their events, across borders, cultures, time periods, dimensions. The Wachowski siblings seem incapable of making a smart sci fi movie that doesn't lay out its alleged philosophical underpinnings in the course of already tone deaf and padded dialogue.

 They should try an experiment and adapt an Elmore Leonard novel to film, "Pagan Babies", say, or "Mr.Paradise". Leonard's crime fiction, specifically those featuring the hijinx of chatty , nitwit criminals in and around the gravel and grime of Detroit's gothic ruins, has the sort of fast thinking , cleverly arranged wording that is both memorable and compact;attuned to ironic asides rather than summary declarations of what has gone before and what the nuances should be notices on the way to a unifying theory  of bad faith. His dialogue is texture and lends complexity to the characters as they go about their mission to  gratify their baser instincts.

 Shakespeare would appreciate Leonard's skill. The Wachowski  , specifically, need to detox, finally, from the chatterboxing that were the final taste of their Matrix trilogy and bring their talent for sharp visuals in line  with writing that moves the plot and entertains while it engages.  They need source material that will slap the bullshit out of them.