This week’s Watercooler Musical Interlude is from the late lamented Cloud Atlas which landed in theaters on Friday with mostly a collectively shrug from critics and utter disinterest from audiences. Is it really any wonder that Hollywood keeps cranking out sequels and remakes and comic book movies? Why take a chance on something bold and different when it’s too much of a risk? That’s not to say this was ever going to be a movie that everyone loved. It’s too sincere and earnest and innocent to ever be embraced by a country on the verge of possibly electing Mitt Romney to lead them for the next four years, but I’m saddened so few people even gave it a chance. Even if I’d finished the passionate review I started a week ago it wouldn’t have made a difference, but I should’ve done it anyway just for the record.

I predict going forward, Cloud Atlas will be kept alive by a passionate cult audience and one day it will be revisited, reevaluated and reappreciated. In the mean time I worry what’s going to happen to Andy and Lana Wachowski for whom this is the second expensive bomb in a row after Speed Racer.

That’s all from me this week. Now it’s your turn. Feel free to weigh in on the movie for better or for worse below.

26 Responses to “RIP Cloud Atlas”

  1. I rewatched L.A. Confidential this weekend. This is such a good movie, the entire cast is great and the musical score is beautiful.

  2. The Glassian musical interlude to CLOUD ATLAS is indeed engaging, Craig.

    Lucille, the boys and I (and Sammy alone for the Etait on Tuesday, and Melanie and Broadway Bob for CLOUD ATLAS) had a busy week. In addition to the fabulous concert in New Brunswick (with the Rutgers Symphony Band and 18 year-old saxophonist Eric Lampmann – Lucille’s sister Elaine’s youngest son) on Thursday, we saw:

    Le Grand Amour **** 1/2 (Tuesday night) Pierre Etait at Film Forum

    Cloud Atlas ** (Friday night) Edgewater multiplex

    The Horror of Dracula (1959) **** 1/2 (Saturday) Jersey City Loews

    The Sentinel (1977) **** (Saturday) Jersey City Loews

    The Kid Brother ***** (Sunday afternoon) Harold Lloyd at Film Forum

    CLOUD ATLAS is fatuous, incoherent, distancing and rife with pretensions. It is proof parcel that having a great idea doesn’t mean successful execution, and in the genre of ‘connecting through eternity’ it lags far behind Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN and Spielberg’s A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, both of which some persuasive comparisons can be made with. Some arresting set pieces for sure, but much more of it simply doesn’t work, and the film is literally and figuratively all over the map. Can’t say I’ve ever been much a fan of the Wachowskis. Still, I respect that the film has fans, and some have forged inspiring defenses.

    Pierre Etait’s LE GRAND AMOUR is a whimsical 1969 feature that sadly has been denied release rights for decades. In the footsteps of Keaton and Lloyd, the now 82 year-old French clown employed a surrealist premise, and a deft blend of physical comedy and slapstick (my favorites are the bed gliding down the road and in the house where everything is literally divided 50-50. This was the cornerstone of a marvelous Etait Festival conducted this past week at the Film Forum, that’s been long overdue. Harold Lloyd’s THE KID BROTHER is one of the icon’s greatest masterpieces, and pianist Steve Sterner again provided wonderful musical accompaniment for a Sunday afternoon showing before a small Film Forum audience, due to subway suspension later in the evening. Both Hammer’s celebrated THE HORROR OF DRACULA and 1977’s THE SENTINEL were offered on the 70 foot screen of the Jersey City Loews’ movie palace at Journal Square on Saturday night, with a spirited Halloween show in place on the second floor lobby.

  3. I’ll tap out my defense of Cloud Atlas later, but for now I hope Alison and Sam and anyone else along the East Coast stay safe out of the storm.

  4. I read that the reaction Cloud Atlas had at TIFF was almost similar to The Tree of Life, and TTOL was polarizing as fuck (in a good and bad way).

    I’ll watch Cloud Atlas when I can, but I can’t imagine it being more enjoyable than Argo. I saw Affleck’s film last night and it was amazing — it’s on my #1 spot for 2012 films as of now.

  5. Craig, thanks for the concern about Hurricane Sandy. We all have been making the necessary acquisitions and preparations all day. It is promised to be a powerful, potentially devastating storm, due to the melding with two other cold fronts, and power outages, severe flooding and damages seem all but certain. Seems like Allison and I are right in the center of this mess. If power holds on I’ll definitely keep you abreast my friend.

  6. Oh, I’m glad you liked it, Craig. It gives me hope hahaha. I have to be honest, though, I tried reading the book and I couldn’t get past the 10th page. But the 5min. preview had me all pumped – Plus, I do love Doona Bae to death.

  7. one man’s “Cloud Atlas” is another man’s “Fountain”. I’d say Aronofsky’s film is how Sam described “Cloud Atlas”.

    I didn’t expect it to be a massive hit, but I’m also saddened to read about the poor box office. People didn’t give it a chance. I hope WB doesn’t pull the plug on the new Wachowski film “Jupiter Ascending”. The good thing is that “Cloud Atlas” didn’t lose WB dollars. It lost foreign investor dollars….unless it performs really well in Asia and Europe. It’s an independent film. Just a very expensive one.

    I saw it a second time and I feel the same way about it. I think it’s a very good film that mixes genres in entertaining and sometimes brilliant ways.

  8. Due to a brother’s birthday I wasn’t able to get to “Cloud Atlas” this weekend, though I look forward to it. I loved “The Fountain” myself.

  9. Here is the other side of the coin on CLOUD ATLAS from Dean Treadway, who responded to me at my site:

    “CLOUD ATLAS was charming, ambitious, funny, labyrinthine, well-acted (particularly by Jim Broadbent and Doona Bae), exciting, gorgeous, far-reaching, playful, sobering and moving. It’s one of my favorites of the year, and does what THE FOUNTAIN (still a movie I love) wanted to do, but better because it wasn’t hamstrung by budget concerns or, in fact, a limited vision. It deserves film lovers’ support–or, at least, a trial view.”

  10. I had the bad luck to end up in a packed theater sitting next to a hipster douche bag who was oblivious to how distracting all his annoying behavior was. Due to the repeated distractions, I can’t really offer a fair assessment of the film overall but I would say that I liked some narrative threads better than others. However, it’s a long film that demands a lot from the audience and takes some big risks, so I feel it deserves more than what I was able to give it. I’ll have to give it another chance and see if my opinion improves, but for now it was very mixed bag for me.

    I also saw Argo this weekend. It was a very tense thriller and competently directed. I liked the broad historical context the film is based on but was annoyed by how much Affleck fudges the details in favor of drama, even while he’s making the case to the audience that he has recreated reality (in some cases) scene for scene. Maybe that’s having your cake and eating it too. It’s either a brilliant meta-commentary on the deceitful nature of Hollywood’s “based on a true story” melodrama or willfully arrogant awards-fodder BS. I could see arguments for both.

  11. I haven’t seen Cloud Atlas but there is no doubt that films with this kind of ambition tend to polarize opinion. I thought ToL was a masterpiece but found The Fountain laughably bad. As I’ve noted when previously discussing the latter film with Sam, one person’s profound is another ones banal or silly.

    Batten down the hatches Sam and Alison and other east coasters, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

  12. Hi LICers. This seemed like the best place to check in. Hope all the other New Yorkers as well as those of you in the other places affected by Hurricane Sandy are safe and doing okay.

    I live in the neighborhood where there was an explosion that took down one of Con Ed’s substation so I’m without power, phone, Internet, everything and probably will be for several days. I’m in the office where they do have power so I could find out what exactly was going on.

    Stay safe everyone.

  13. Glad to hear you OK Alison, if a bit frazzled and rattled. I thought about all my East Coast internet friends quite a bit over the last few days.

  14. I’ve been wondering about all you East Coasters. Hope you’re all hanging in there, and your friends and family are all safe and sound. It’s nice to hear you checking in, Alison. Ironic that your office became a refuge from home though I hope that development doesn’t have to last long.

  15. I too hope that all the LiCers affected by the storm are safe and well.

  16. For those of you wondering, I heard from Sam and he and his family are alive and well. They’ve lost power, but they’re good.

  17. Thanks Craig, Joel, sartre and Alson. All is well with us, though I did survey the area and it is devastated by way of felled tress, closed businesses and gridlocked traffic. After the power in the Ridgefield library (where I was this morning and subsequented returned to now after power suddenly was cut off and then came back after about an hour and a half) went down I looked at the neighboring town and saw long long lines at gas stations, with many carrying plastic containers, meaning that they were buying gas for at home generators. The Leonia library had hundreds of people sitting on the floor with lap tops, no doubt unable to gain internet acess in their homes. It’s a mad house in many spots, but people are orderly.

  18. Sounds like it’ll be many days before things get back to normal, Sam, but I’m glad you and the family are unscathed.

  19. Great to know our NY friends are safe and coping as best they can.

  20. Glad to hear from you, Sam, and that you and your family are safe.

  21. Thanks so very much Alison, and very happy to know you and yours are well.

  22. I intend to see Cloud Atlas on Friday or Sunday. A film that’s divisive and derided intrigues me. If it’s bad, so what, considering some of the crap I’ve seen over the years. I found Speed Racer enjoyable and brilliant in many ways, so. . . .

  23. I hope everyone, including Alison and Sam, are okay in the face of the storm and its aftermath. Take care, everyone.

    I want to see Cloud Atlas but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    Still revelling in and celebrating the World Series Championship victory of the San Francisco Giants, though!

  24. Thanks very much Alexander! All is well here except for the blanket power outages (we got ours back on Wednesday afternoon) but my father, sister and one brother are still down. Gas lines go for miles (I waited two and a half hours to fill my tank this morning) and many restaurants and food places continue to be shuttered. Supermarkets don’t even have perishables. It’s a mad scene out there.

    I was thrilled that the Giants prevailed over Detroit, who aced my beloved Yankees. The Giants were unreal my friend!

    Pierre, I will make a prediction. I think you will like CLOUD ATLAS, and if so I am all smiles.

  25. Congrats to both Alexander and Sartre on the Giant victory. Part of me was behind the Tigers simply because Detroit has had to chew on such a big shit sandwich for so long now, but really I was going for SF.

    Pierre, I admire your attitude and I think it’s exactly the right one to go in with. I loved the movie and while I can’t and won’t try to force anyone to agree on that score, I do think you have to admire the chance the filmmakers took. Unless your name is James Cameron or Christopher Nolan, it’s exeedingly difficult to make an original sci-fi movie on a big budget these days For my money, Tykwer and the Wachowski’s exceeded both Cameron and Nolan.

  26. The jury is in. Today I saw Cloud Atlas (missed the first 5-10 minutes of it, but that’s a long story). Upshot: I enjoyed it – was entertained by it. Part of the entertainment, though, was laughter that was a tinge derisive – mostly aimed at some of the dialogue and the performances of Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, which, respectively, were slightly not enough and a bit too much. Berry didn’t seem to have much screen presence at times, and the limits of her abilities were showing. Hanks I simply didn’t buy much of the time – he seemed to be trying too hard and not really in it – out of place. The other actors fared better, though Sarandon didn’t seem to be in it, either. Perhaps the direction of the actors was a factor, as I noticed Broadbent, though good, seemed to be performing under his own steam without an even hand to guide him.

    When I think of this film, the word “art” does not come to mind. That said, I did enjoy the special effects. What I don’t understand is why people walk away from it scratching their heads. (Three people in fact walked out during the sparsely attended afternoon screening I attended.) The film isn’t that complicated, really, nor is it very deep. I guess the multiple story lines are too jarring for some.

    Again, the best I can say for it is that I was entertained.

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