Must (We) See Movie of the Week: Cloud Atlas

October 29, 2012 1 Comment

My rating of this film:  5/10

What should a spectator expect  from a $100 million dollar film with three directors?

Inspiration?  Profundity? Emotional transcendence?  Entertainment?

This nearly three hour movie directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tywker has certainly succeeded in polarizing its audience.  Some critics (Roger Ebert) have loved it; others (Anthony Lane) have mocked it.  Based on the best selling novel by David Mitchell, the film spans 500 years and moves back and forth across time and place with actors Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and others playing multiple characters (of a variety of races and gender) in multiple times, with lives that eventually connect.  In fact, the Mega Message of this lengthy film (repeated frequently so we grasp it) is that we are all connected.  Every one of us, regardless of time or place.  And slavery is a very bad thing.  A message worth repeating or just a repeating message?

The panoramic landscapes intended to provide a dazzling sense of grandeur of scope seem overly familiar.  Anyone who has seen this year’s Prometheus or (back in 2006) Inarritu’s Babel may not feel so inspired.  Or connected.

But when a film is experienced so differently by its audience, it raises interesting questions about whose claims are most valid.  Why is one person (of  similar knowledge and experience) blown away by a film that someone else labels banal?  Does it really matter if I hate and dismiss a movie that you feel changed your emotional life forever?  Are movies personal?  How personal?  Are there bad movies?  (Have you seen Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room”?)  Is popularity ever a fair metric? Do film scholars comment from a position of privilege?  How should we judge the movies we see?  Or should we?

What right do I have in posting MY choice of a “must see” movie that elevates  it over  other available films that I didn’t like or perhaps chose not to even see.

Am I just avoiding listing the reasons that I really didn’t like this film at all, while certainly respecting several reviewers who did.  Gee, maybe we really are all connected after all.  I still don’t know if this is a  “must see movie” or a “must we see?” this movie.  Guess you’ll have to see it to find out.  Jolyn Wagner

Must See Movie of the Week
One Comment to “Must (We) See Movie of the Week: Cloud Atlas”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    Of course there are good movies and bad ones. When people differ in their evaluations, we have to see why. What reasons do they base their evaluations upon? Perhaps we have overlooked some aspect that the other person sees, or vice versa. Once those reasons are out in the open, we can respond “yes, but” or “I see, that’s a good point.” In other words, we can criticize their reasons or grant them and re-evaluate. What we should believe about the value of a movie is a function of all the reasons there are for evaluating it one way rather than another.

    Movies are like people in that respect: our evaluation of a person should be a function of the various character traits that person possesses. Some Nazis were good fathers and husbands, but more aspects of the person must be considered when evaluating the person.

    And, of course, Jolyn, you have a right to post your choice of movie of the week. You often tell us why you think it’s a must see movie, and we sometimes use that, and our trust in your judgment, to decide whether to see a movie or not. If our trust in your judgment is rational, it is because we’ve in the past confirmed your judgments upon seeing the movies you rate as “must see.”

    Popularity is not in itself a fair metric, but it may be a sign that there is something to look into. And the reviews of critics serve the same function, though past experience may give us inductive evidence that they are to be trusted.

    Does it really matter that someone else hates and dismisses a movie that changed your emotional life forever? Matter to what? It matters to whether the movie was really a good one. Maybe you should re-think your evaluation of the movie. Does it matter to your life? No, because something may have become clear to you as a result of watching the film that was important for you to realize, and once you did, it changed your life. Maybe you come to see that you were looking for love in all the wrong places, even though the movie that made you realize it was a dud. Or maybe you come to realize that you shouldn’t be selling junk paper to unsuspecting clients. Come to Reel Deal on Sunday to hear about that one!

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