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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Visually dazzling, superbly acted, and massively ambitious. I’m going to be obsessed with this visionary saga for a while.
-Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat

“Cloud Atlas” is much easier to watch than it is to describe. It really is an extraordinary cinematic achievement.
-David Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan

A lawyer on a Pacific voyage in the 1800’s has his life turned upside down when his life is saved by a stowaway. A talented musician in the 1930’s writes letters to his lover while being blackmailed by an aging composer. A 1970’s investigative journalist unravels a conspiracy involving a nuclear power reactor. In the near future, an aging book publisher has a run-in with the mob and is held against his will in a retirement home. An enslaved clone discovers a hidden secret and incites a revolution in futuristic Korea. A post-apocalyptic tribesman goes on an incredible journey after his village is destroyed.

Every one of these stories take place in vastly different times and places but they all interact and influence each other in profound ways. Without one distinct narrative that acts as a through-line for the film, Cloud Atlas weaves these 6 tales in and out of each other throughout it’s 3 hour run time. And there is not a dull moment to speak of. The end of every scene is an expertly done transition to the start of a different, but thematically similar, scene in a different story line.

Dr. Henry Goose: : Fear. Belief. Love. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives. These forces begin long before we are born and continue after we perish.

Why Cloud Atlas is Great
  • The individual stories are all an absolute blast to watch.
    They range from emotionally moving to hilarious to horrifying and back again. I can’t even pick a favorite because they were all so fantastic.
  • It is a visually incredible film to watch.
    There are insane amounts of detail packed into every scene. The special effects and makeup work are remarkable, gorgeous, haunting, stunning, insert-adjective-here.
  • It has top notch acting.
    Most of the actors in this film played 6 different characters, one for each story. Some completely unrecognizable from the actor playing them.
  • The editing is unparalleled.
    With so many stories and scenes perfectly intertwining, it’s a miracle this film makes any sense. But it is done so seamlessly, the six stories become one.

Cloud Atlas might be the closest thing to a perfect film I’ve ever seen. It has such scope and ambition and digs so deep I am still having trouble processing it. It’s certainly going to find a place in my all time favorite movies list. It has been my most anticipated film for quite some time and it definitely didn’t disappoint. SEE IT NOW.

FilmFire review:
4.75/5 forms

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The script is episodic by nature as it blurs fantasy and reality, with some vignettes more amusing or compelling than others.
-Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue

Engagingly off-centre, like Charlie Kaufman taking down Quentin Tarantino, this sunbaked shaggy-dog story is a place-holder film for McDonagh, and often closer to chaos than it is to genius.
-Matt Glasby, Total Film

I give Seven Psychopaths a lot of credit for being a truly original film in a time where sequels, prequels and reboots have completely taken over. Not really following any sort of typical narrative structure, this dark comedy by playwright/filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) bounces us around a series of beautiful “SoCal” locations not typically seen on film. Constantly flying in and out of fantasy and reality, the narrative is at times difficult to keep up with and doesn’t exactly mesh into a satisfying whole by the films final set piece.

As far as plot goes, Colin Farrell plays Martin, a struggling screenwriter who hangs around with his best friend and dog kidnapper, Billy (Sam Rockwell). When Billy and partner Hans (Christopher Walken) unknowingly kidnap the beloved dog of a gangster (Woody Harrelson), Martin becomes mixed up in a scheme that just may be the inspiration to his screenplay he has been waiting for.

Although not exactly laugh out loud funny, Seven Psychopaths has some of the wittiest and most intelligent dialogue I’ve heard in a film in quite some time. It is a great time just listening to Walken and Rockwell talk circles around each other as an exasperated Farrell listens on. Speaking of Walken, he plays such a lunatic in this movie it’s almost as if he’s doing his own take on a Christopher Walken impression. I find myself liking Farrell’s work a lot more lately, and this may be my favorite performance of his so far, equal parts alcoholic beachbum and straight man to the rest of the cast. And of course Woody is great as always, playing the ultra violent but equally patheic gangster, Charlie.

As fantastic as the cast is, the real gem of this film is Sam Rockwell’s Billy. Rockwell brings a real heart to what could have been a completely one dimensional character and it really adds depth to the movie, in more ways than one. Billy gives a monologue towards the climax of the film that is a real showcase for how great of an actor Rockwell can be. Here’s a peek at the type of dialogue you can expect from Billy:

Hans: As Gandhi said…’An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind’. I believe that whole heartedly.

Billy: No it doesn’t. There’ll be one guy left with one eye. How’s the last blind guy going to take out the eye of the last guy left whose still got one eye left? All that guy has to do is run away and hide behind a bush. Ghandi was wrong. It’s just that nobody’s got the balls to come out and say it.

This movie starts out fantastic and has some real momentum for about the first 2/3’s of the film. The final act, however, takes place almost entirely in a desert and parts of it slow down significantly. The flow of some of the plot elements essentially come to a standstill and the film loses itself narratively a bit, with an almost anti-climactic ending and final few scenes.

Seven Psychopaths is nothing if not unique and I can really appreciate the complete originality it brings to the table. Although it stumbles a bit towards the end, it is a very entertaining time at the movies and worth checking out.

FilmFire review:
3.25/5 forms


Looper  is a superior genre film, an engrossing thriller that engages not only the senses, but our minds as well, just as good sci-fi should do.
-Randy Myers , San Jose Mercury News

If nothing else, Looper  is one of the most ambitious movies you’ll see this Fall. The third feature film from up-and-coming writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Looper  might not be a complete masterpiece, but it is a very unique twist on time travel films and even the sci-fi genre as a whole.

I’ll get the plot details out of the way quickly. Here’s all you need to know: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star respectively as young and old versions of the same character, a hired assassin who kills and disposes of criminals sent back in time 30 years.

Looper  is an interesting film for a couple of major reasons:

a) It treats the “science” in science fiction in an almost subtle tongue-in-cheek way. Everyone knows the concept of time travel makes no sense and is just one paradox after another. Instead of trying to explain the intricacies of how it works, Willis’s character (old Joe) sums it up for us with this quote:

I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.

The science behind the time travel really doesn’t matter, so Johnson pokes some fun at the notion of trying to explain the impossible. A gusty move that I really appreciate.

b) The second half of this film is entirely different from the first. Sony did a great job with Looper‘s marketing campaign, not revealing much of anything from the final two acts. Not spoiling too much, the first half focuses mainly on time travel elements, the young and old Joe characters and their motivations. The second half of the film takes a strange turn when it comes to the plot and starts diving deeper into weighty themes like morality, fate, how one’s actions can affect the future, the importance of parenting, among others. It almost feels like 2 separate films in one, but the two halves do work well thematically.

A very ambitious and unique tale, Looper‘s pieces may not all fit together perfectly, but it is definitely a worthwhile and interesting trip to the movies. Highly recommended.

FilmFire review:
4/5 forms