I've never been a huge Matrix fan. (Sorry.) As a total cyber-punk head, it felt like a rip-off of the ideas of all my favorite authors and thinkers. A very cool rip-off, but a rip-off nonetheless.
The trailer for Cloud Atlas intrigued me, and bringing such a sprawling narrative to the screen seemed ambitious in a good way. (I'm also not much of a Tom Tykwer fan (sorry). Run Lola Run is sort of a script supervisor's nightmare, and didn't feel like much of a movie to me, and the other ones, whose names I can't even remember seemed more mess than beautiful to me.)
|There's a hair thing going on here...|
I don't see lots of movies in the theatre anymore - it's time-consuming and expensive, but I thought briefly about seeing Cloud Atlas.
Then I watched Lana Wachowski's speech before the HRC. Wow. Who is this fun, cool, engaging, smart, sensitive person? She is charming, she is vulnerable, and most of all, she is on point throughout. This is a must-see, not only because of the socio-political issues it addresses so elegantly and personally, but because these issues of "coming out," of invisibility, of being seen, of the gaze - these issues belong to everyone. In my work and life, I've never met anyone who didn't have a real them that they had to tediously and courageously work to release to the world, or one which they kept under lock and key out of fear of reprisal.
The speech was so wonderful, I went to see Cloud Atlas on opening day. It had more beautiful than mess, but still had a lot of mess. It was inconsistent, episodic, ambitious, accomplished, frustrating, annoying, engaging, needed better dialogue, too long, not long enough, maddening, and fierce. Not surprisingly, my least favorite sections turned out to be the Tom Tykwer ones (and reminded me of the movie I least liked of his and can't remember the title of), but the Wachowski sections, while visually dazzling, often had that stilted feel to them that makes representation plastic instead of supple. (And what is cinema but the opportunity to take art from the plastic to the supple?)
So, in conclusion: see the speech. Watch the speech. The speech is important and succeeds 100% on every level. Then, if you're intrigued, see Cloud Atlas. For all its flaws, it feels like a companion to the speech - and, sadly, not the other way around. The almost 3-hour film feels like a declaration of independence, and a mandate for the rights of personhood - not the worst thing to occupy the same cultural time and space as a Presidential election.
(Yeah, I keep linking the speech cause I can't find a way to embed and cause you should watch it!)