November 6th, 2012

house of leaves

"I know I'm not forgiven, but I need a place to sleep."

1) I am afraid of this day, of where it may lead us, and I do not only mean America, but the entire world.

2) It's sunny here in Providence, but only 40˚F. The leaves have all dropped off the tree Outside my office window.

3) The shortest distance between two points is the path of least resistance.

4) Yesterday, we drove to Attleboro for a 4:30 (CST) matinee of Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer's Cloud Atlas, based on David Mitchell's 2004 novel of the same name. I am, honestly, at a loss to explain the effect this film had on me, except to say it was profound. I spent most of the last hour of the movie crying – not because of the sorrow in the film, but because of the sheer fucking beauty of it. Crying at beauty. Here, I'm going to defer to a more articulate voice, via Roger Ebert, from the Chicago Sun-Times, Omer M. Mozaffar writes:

Cloud Atlas (2012), directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, is a thing of beauty, the likes of which I have not seen in American Cinema. While I regard Rian Johnson's Looper as easily the best film of the year thus far, this film might be the best film of the decade. Nevertheless, considering how many people walked out of the screening within the first hour, I suspect that this film will successfully alienate or confuse most of its viewers, earning more appreciation in the years to come, long after most of us have expired. If you have the patience, it might take forty minutes to begin to understand it, and to subsequently immerse yourself into it. In that way, it also reminded me of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (2011). It is that good. It is so good that I can tell you everything about this movie, and I will still have told you nothing. (bolding mine)

Yes. A hundred times over yes. And here, from Ebert's own four-star review:

I was never, ever bored by Cloud Atlas. On my second viewing, I gave up any attempt to work out the logical connections between the segments, stories and characters. What was important was that I set my mind free to play. Clouds do not really look like camels or sailing ships or castles in the sky. They are simply a natural process at work. So too, perhaps, are our lives. Because we have minds and clouds do not, we desire freedom. That is the shape the characters in Cloud Atlas take, and how they attempt to direct our thoughts. Any concrete, factual attempt to nail the film down to cold fact, to tell you what it "means," is as pointless as trying to build a clockwork orange.

But, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema. And what an opportunity for the actors. And what a leap by the directors, who free themselves from the chains of narrative continuity. And then the wisdom of the old man staring into the flames makes perfect sense.

And from Neil Gaiman's Twitter feed:

Just saw Cloud Atlas. It made me feel like I should try harder and make better and more ambitious art. So good.

I know the truth in these thoughts, and yet the expression of my own, an expression of my own reactions, slips through my fingers every time I reach for it. I am not a hopeful person. Quite the opposite. But here is this hopeful film, hopeful despite all its tragedies, and I am utterly in love with its genius. Perhaps I cried, in part, because I cannot truly have this hope for myself. I can only be on the Outside looking in. But, then, one of the countless messages of Cloud Atlas might be that the hopeless also have their place in the creation of the ripples through time that shape human history.

Just go see the movie.

Also, Cloud Atlas will be, along with House of Leaves, the selection for November's book of the month. So, see the movie and read the novel.

Awed and Terrified,
Aunt Beast