Immersive and all consuming – Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Cloud Atlas – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Cloud Atlas (2013)

Directors: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski »
Writers: David Mitchell (novel), Lana Wachowski (written for the screen by), Tom Tykwer (written for the screen by), and Andy Wachowski (written for the screen by)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant

The thing that makes this 3 hour extravaganza captivating and able to hold one’s imagination and attention for such a lengthy period of time is the perfect balancing of story peaks and troughs. Through each scene there is a sense of intrigue, mystery, and interconnectedness that helps you piece each story together. Not knowing how each will end but wanting to know how each life affects the others is part of the journey of this film.

I haven’t read the novel but I intend to. Mainly because I’m fascinated to see how the tension is built in written form because it works so perfectly in the film. The Wachowski’s and Tykwer have taken Mitchell’s story and transported it onto screen so that it stands alone as a fascinating visual journey. Through editing, careful scripting and the soundtrack scoring, the peaks are powerful and come at the perfect moments in each sequence. The audience isn’t treated as unintelligent and being pushed and prodded through the complexities of the story. This film seeks to challenge our thinking. It is the reason why I think people won’t like Cloud Atlas, but I hope my pessimism is proved wrong because the challenge is worth the work.

There have been few moments in my life when I have been so captivated by a story in film that my entire body reacts to what is happening on screen. I can watch a film and do twenty other things at the same time and be able to tell you what it was about. But this film, oh my, this film transported me. It immersed me so fully and completely in its world that my mind, body, and spirit was involved in this film to the extent that I was left at the end of the film with an emptiness I can hardly describe. I wanted to watch it again immediately. I wanted to explore the world more fully, I wanted to know the characters more completely, and I wanted to escape again into the world of Cloud Atlas.

I could talk about the actors, the great prosthetics, the fantastic special effects, the comedy of the old people, the language of the tribal people, but I would be here all day. Instead I would like to leave you with the desire to see this film because of the experience I had in it. I know that everyone’s experience with this film will be different. It’s like the first time you hear that song that transfixes you and you replay it over and over because you’ve fallen in love with it, but you’ll never reclaim that first imagining, that first experience. Cloud Atlas is an immersive and all consuming cinematic experience that you should experience for yourself. Be captivated.

4/5

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And now for something a little bit different – QI

QI - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

QI – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

QI (2003-)

Stars: Stephen Fry and Alan Davies

There are few shows that I can watch by myself and find myself laughing out loud. QI is one of those rare shows that never fails to be both freaking hilarious and informative. I am constantly amazed at how much I find myself giggling as I sit on my bed watching it on my laptop. There is something wonderful about comedians revealing their intelligence and the way their wonderful minds work. Of course then you realise the reason they are such good comedians is because they do know quite a bit about the world and thus can find what is truly funny about it.

QI, which stands for Quite Interesting, is a “game show” for the intellectuals. It is comprised of questions relating to all different aspects of the world. From Astonomy to the Immortal Bard to Zoology and Agriculture. It covers a myriad of ideas and facts and corrects the general ignorance of the world one episode at a time. Along with these weird and wonderful facts there is the weird and wonderful guests that grace the desk of QI with Stephen Fry and Alan Davies every week. They are mostly British comedians with a few extras thrown in for good measure. They compete for you knows the most interesting things and who is least taken by the myths that are spread by the general public.

My favourite thing by far about this show is Alan Davies. He is the representative of the world on QI. And as much as Stephen Fry would like to prove him to be an idiot, I think he is the one who shows the most humility and hilarity. He represents the public and helps us to know that we aren’t just all stupid, but simply ill-informed.

If you haven’t seen QI I would really recommend it. It is a fun show and you will giggle and learn at the same time, what could be bad about that!?

Films I Watch A Million Times Series – The Bourne Series

The Bourne Identity - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Bourne Identity – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay), W. Blake Herron (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel)
Stars: Franka Potente, Matt Damon and Chris Cooper

There have been some blessings that have come with growing up with an older brother who loved Steven Segal and Bruce Willis films. One of those blessings was the nurtured love of action films. There is something incredibly satisfying about watching the good guy triumph over the evil, especially when the evil is the US government.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a man without memory of who he is or why he knows he knows how to do a myriad of things including speak multiple languages fluently and can take down fifty armoured guards without a second thought. He is searching for his past and dodging death as he seeks to live a future free of the command of those who once controlled him. Jason Bourne is a man not to be trifled with.

As with most action films there isn’t a lot of dialogue, but there sure is a lot of acting going on by Matt Damon and his lady accomplice played by Franka Potente. The relationship that spawned out of need turns into a relationship of shared experience. There is a wonderful crafting of this pairing that takes place throughout the film which makes it genuine and more meaningful than the sloppy creations in your B-list action films.

The story of Bourne and his adventures are based off Robert Ludlum’s popular novels but carry more of the characterisation than of the actual story in the novels. But I believe this is for the better as the complexity of the novels take away from the sharp immediacy of the films. The Bourne Identity is the first in a trilogy (soon to be added to by a fourth, The Bourne Legacy – out August 11th). The Bourne Identity begins the saga of Jason Bourne and it also is, in my opinion, the best of the films. You really ride along with Bourne as he discovers parts of who he is, where he has been, and who is after him. With the carefully sequenced and choreographed action scenes filmed mostly on handheld cameras it provides for a rocky ride but intensifies the scene and provides what would be quite a real perspective on the action. Damon’s performance is pensive and withdrawn but comes across powerfully as he expresses his character’s strength, confusion, love, and vengeful nature.

I am a little cautious about getting my expectations up for The Bourne Legacy because the Bourne Trilogy was so gritty and wonderful. It will be interesting to see where they take it and if they stick to the books that carried on after Ludlum’s death. I am very excited to see how Jeremy Renner goes in his lead role in this film (no he’s not a recasting of Jason Bourne, it’s a different character). Renner’s really becoming a new action man of film and it’s going to be interesting to see what aspects of Damon’s portrayal he picks up on and which he reinvents for himself.

Films I Watch A Million Times Series – 10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You - Official Poster  - from IMDB.com

10 Things I Hate About You – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Director: Gil Junger
Writers: Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith, and William Shakespeare (play “The Taming of the Shrew”)
Stars: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I first saw 10 Things I Hate About You on a plane on the way to America as a 12 year old. I immediately loved it and it was always my dream as a teen to be like Kat. She was feisty, strong, had a mind of her own, and wasn’t going to be treated like a fool by anyone. It was her strength of mind that I loved most. She disregarded convention and was a rebel of a different kind. Kat rebelled against what was popular. In a lot of ways she was my first experience of indie, but it was more than that. I had never had much guts as a kid but heading into high school and becoming my own person (in my own mind anyway) was the chance to turn things around, to be a stronger woman, to stand against what I didn’t agree with, and be whoever she deemed she wanted to be. It was this that really connected me to the movie.

The relationships between all the characters are familiar to most as it is based on William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew which has had numerous renditions and adaptations. And as with most Shakespeare plays it has been done well and not so well as it has stood up to the testing of Hollywood. There are some really fantastic adaptations of Shakespeare including Baz Luhrmann’s modern Romeo & Juliet and Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. However for adaptations into a new period and without the Shakespearean dialogue you can’t go past 10 Things I Hate About You. It stands on its own two feet as a good teen rom-com-drama as well as adapting a brilliant Shakespeare. The characterisation of Kat and Bianca are beautifully fulfilled by Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik, let alone the performances of the young Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Patrick Verona and Cameron James respectively. It was imaginatively formed and it came together to produce a film that would continue to be enjoyed throughout the next 13 years.

This film helped shape me as a person and there have been so many moments when I have quoted lines from this film in real life and then realised that only the people who have seen it millions of times would know the significance of a line like “Sleep is good” or “Yeah, that’s a Toyota.” It also made me want to have curly long hair like Julia Stiles but that was never going to happen with my straight-can’t-be-curled-hair. It was the attitude of Kat and Patrick that I fell in love with most. It was the carefree attitude mixed with strength and loyalty that I strived for and in a lot of ways still do. It’s hard to be a people pleaser but it’s also incredibly hard to not let people’s opinions of us get the better of us and command what we do, say, wear, like, etc.

10 Things I Hate About You still makes me laugh, cry, and think hard about how I’m acting in my life. Kat is one of my heroines of literature and even though this says a lot about me and the kind of person I want to be, I care more like Bianca and obsessive like Cameron, and slightly less delusional than Mandelia, and simply awkward like Michael. It is a film where I relate to pretty much every character and they have come with me in this journey of life as influencing characters who have reminded me of what is real, what is true, and what is honest.

I lived vicariously through Kat as I grew up as a teenager and wanted to be like her. She was my role model. She had the attitude and the lifestyle I wanted. She was intelligent, driven and quick-witted. She wanted to escape to the big city. She didn’t want anyone controlling her life. She was brilliant in my eyes. I know she was never the best example or role model but I love her all the same.

What film or character did you love through your teens? Do they still influence you to this day?