Movies You Should be Watching: Cloud Atlas

By Warner Bros. ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Warner Bros. ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s start really quickly. Who should go see Cloud Atlas? Anyone who can recite Star Wars lines in copious detail, parrot lines from the Matrix in conversation, or knows what Spiderman’s real powers are…we liked it to say the least.

And, the preview hardly does the movie justice.

So, the boo doesn’t want to say this was a nerd’s paradise. But, in most ways, it totally was. No spoiler here, but the beautifully written, produced, directed, and acted film was the culmination of work from the brilliant minds of the Wachowski’s (Matrix Trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). There were flaws here and there but nothing so distracting that you couldn’t be immediately drawn into the story. Was the acting perfect? No. Were the costumes spot on? Nope. Was some of the time-splicing confusing? Sure. But what was epic about this movie was that as we began watching, I found myself trying to keep up and tabulate all the permutations of time I have seen in the first hour. But, by the end, every timeline had seamlessly wound and unwound and wound itself back together again. In the last 30 minutes of the movie, it was as if the entire film was flashing before my eyes re-summarizing itself and elucidating all of the questions I had had before.

Why was it a nerdy movie? Well, maybe it wasn’t totally nerdy but it definitely wasn’t a movie for a film snob. For the average movie goer it will come off as pretty. For the film elite, it will come of as clunky perhaps. But, for the intellectual purveyor of all things philosophical and transcendent, it will be a rapture. Life lessons aside, Cloud Atlas told us the things we already knew but never knew how to put into words or visuals. It was pictoral orgasm.

One major criticism I have seen over and over again is that the film doesn’t do the book justice (SPOILER). But this argument seems both short-sighted and truncated to me. How could a film ever do a book justice? Every single reader experiences every single book uniquely. Characters, no matter how they are described on the page, are imagined in ways that the reader most likes. Scary storylines are minimized or evildoers are praised based on some innate feature we all possess to imagine. No, this film can’t beat your imagination. But by golly, I bet its pretty dern close. I have not read the book. But I may now. Because if this film is at all similar, the book is sure to amaze me.

SPOILER ALERT – Critics gave a few scathing reviews. Others just lukewarm. And even others sang joyous praise. But, I think everyone will have a different experience watching it. Those looking for something will find it. We saw it for a matinee price and I found myself wanting to pay them more, feeling I had somehow jipped the cinema industry.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.