David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
The B is back, people! And I'm not talking about Chloe (Krysten Ritter), I'm talking about Dawson James Van Der Beek, of course!
Not only is our favorite flannel-wearing Spielberg fan here for our inner-teen amusement — or if you're me, every day genuine entertainment — but more lovable Creek kids are popping up this season, too. Then there's June (Dreama Walker). Dear, sweet June bug. She really took a beating Season 1, huh? From the cheating fiance to raising a grown child (well, sort of), to being slapped at a wedding, to having a disturbing affair with crazy Chloe's dad (yep!), this chick had it bad. Through it all, a friendship did come out of the random Craigs List rooming, even if it is absolutely dysfunctional. But isn't that why we love the gang in Apt. 23? Now, time for new shenanigans!
James Van Der Beek's Funeral?
A viking funeral in Central Park, to be exact. Chloe, in all black (veil included) explains to the crew the sad misfortune, but before we get any of the juicy details we're forced into a flashback, what else. So...
Two Weeks Earlier
Chloe wisps her bangs out of her face to let June in on a little secret about her sweater resembling a pumpkin that mated with a turd, which is actually quite affectionate coming from the B. They're about to have a real breakthrough moment, as June inches closer to Chloe, hoping to hear what she's always dreamed of: That she's like a sister to Chloe. That living together was the best thing that could have ever happened to her. Just as they're about to have this embrace, which obviously definitely was so going to happen, JVDB enters the room with MASSIVE news. They both turn. Whatever could it be, they bounce up eagerly...
I Don't Wanna Wait
Well OF COURSE it's about the Dawson's Creek 10-year reunion! Dawson is all ripping up the letter that invites him and the rest of the A-team (Joey, Pacey, Jen, come on, guys!) because he's King James now! He's the Lenon AND the McCartney of the group and they need him, he says. So, instead of convincing him that a reunion IS the best thing, Chloe says it's time to party and they frolic to the tents for fashion week. At least June is upset. In fact, she really takes it out on the muffins at her coffee shop job. And you know what?! I feel for her. I too would LOVE a Dawson's Creek reunion. I think about it all the time. Pacey seeing Joey one more time, wiping a stray strand of hair behind her ear, whispering the words we all know too well: "I remember everything." All the while, Dawson is trying to reconnect with Jen, trying to get her to see that he can still be her boy adventure. It would be too good. June knows it (her boob size went up a cup size, for crying out loud!) and I know it. And yet JVDB can't seem to grasp the realness of it all. The magic that would come of it. At least not yet. Moving on...
After attending the fashion show (front row, of course), June surprises Chloe and Dawson with a makeshift slideshow including the reasons why he MUST agree to be in the reunion. Hell, there's even a Dawson as Simba slide that, I mean, there's no way you can say no to Simba. No way. Dawson comes to his senses: "This is bigger than me. I need to do a reunion. For the fans. I'M KING JAMES!" But then Chloe drops a bombshell, which must, IT MUST, be false: "I'm his fans," she says. "I'm the one that writes all the letters." Please be lying Chloe, please...
But She's Not
"He shouldn't relive the past by doing some stupid reunion show," Chloe says, confirming the pen ink she's used for every letter. She loves the power, she says! And who can blame her. Every year JVDB rejects the Dawson's Creek reunion letter, making him feel invincible and therefore falls to Chloe's feet, ready to do whatever she commands. Doesn't make all that much sense, but let's just go with it. And so the battle is on. Chloe vs. June on the future of the reunion show. But Chloe isn't messing around. Nope. This is no amateur house. The B takes it one step further and actually shoots June with some sort of device that leaves her passed out for 6 HOURS. When she finally awakens from her deep slumber, dreaming of a reunion that would get her high school friends so insanely jealous and proud of grown-up New York City girl June, D says he won't do the reunion. He says Chloe has told him everything! The fake fans, the misspelled names, all of it. Dawson and June separately think-walk and end up crossing paths (in their minds? It's not very clear), but naturally in black and white. And the verdict is in: The reunion will, it will happen. June wins, until she hears...
Dawson Is Lying
JVDB says that Michelle, Katie and Josh are SO into the reunion. He says it's happening! So we can all celebrate, right? Wrong. Apparently, they all HATE Dawson. "They hate you!" he hears. And they're not doing the reunion. Nope. They'll only do it "the Hollywood way" (whatever that means). So, where do you go from here?
You all remember Audrey Liddell, right? She was Joey's quirky, alcoholic, but SO FUN roommate in college, who eventually started dating Pacey for a short time until he realized that he needed to be back with Joey. His one true love. Like the boat he made: "True Love." From scratch. ANYWAY, so Audrey is all like "You gypped us on the finale present, duh! That's why we hate you! We were stuck with a bill for 145 boats, James! I had to sell my horse Cha-Cha!" And though Dawson wants to make amends, Busy states that it's just simply too late for that.
"My Life Was Better 10 Years Ago"
Dawson and June reflect on their current s**ty lives. Obviously Dawson's life was better 10 years ago – and June, well poor June was just a little, innocent girl from Indiana with dream of living in the big city. Things seemed simpler back then, hopeful even. And now. Well look at them! Sure they have beautifully knit sweaters on with matching v-neck angles and jawlines made to cut stone, but at the end of the day, they're both just lonely. Lonely and looking for a place to call home. Real home. The Creek, if you will. Chloe perks up at their misery, well #duh, and urges them to snap out of it. And while she's still "The B in Apt. 23" the girl has got a point! And anyway, all the moping around is more depressing than the time D did this. "Get to your room and put on something I don't like," Chloe demands in her most maternal way possible.
Something Better. Bigger.
Dawson has a revelation, people! "I don't need those guys," he says loud and poud. "It wasn't Pacey, Joey or Jen's creek!" And for the first time I find myself on D-Man's side. It was his creek after all. First up: Frankie Muniz. JVDB finds him in the grocery store and tries to persuade him to do a reunion show. Not exactly a Dawson's Creek reunion, but you know, something like that. Chloe finds Dawson through Grindr, but of course, and tries to put a stop to Dawson's lunacy. And she does so by wiping him out. Good girl, Chloe. Good.
Who better to calm Dawson's pipe dream of a full-blown reunion than to bring in the one and only Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)? He admits he too has tried to accost Muniz (at a zoo, no less) and that was perhaps his breaking point. That was the moment he knew that he needed to break free from dreams of Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) wrapping her slender arms around his neck, telling him his bedspreads weren't lame. That his highlights gave her the chills and that, if nothing else, his volleyball skills would stay in her mind forever. "Have you read my book, amigo?" Morris asks Leery. "It's called 'Finding the Now.'" They have a similar problem, Zacky says. They both have been living in hopes of resurrecting the past. And Dawson concedes, and with that goes his entire memorabilia. In a fire in the Central Park river. "The funeral." And though it wasn't actually JVDB the man who had died, it was his spirit: the spirt of Dawson. But if you ask me, it will live on forever, whether or not he looks back at all.
[Image Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC]
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