Mini-reviews to help you choose
I’m changing how I handle my mini-reviews. I’ll now be focussing on two or three movies at a time. Hopefully, this will keep me more current with discussing recent releases that are still playing.
I’m also changing my grading system to a letter system. It allows for a little more distinction.
Cloud Atlas (A-)
Lana & Andy Wachowski of the Matrix trilogy and Tom Twyker of Run, Lola, Run fame join forces to write & co-direct this adaptation of the David Mitchell novel. Having never read the source material, I cannot speak to the faithfulness of the translation, so I can only judge what I saw on the screen. And what I saw was a big, bold ambitious movie of the type rarely seen in major Hollywood productions. It helps of course that this was not a Hollywood production and was independently financed allowing the filmmakers to make decisions at which the big studios would balk. It is a LONG movie and attempts to tackle such major themes as the nature of life, love, destiny and the effect our actions, however insignificant, could have on the course of human history. It’s action covers hundreds of years, from the distant past to an apocalyptic future, with multiple actors playing multiple parts, sometimes playing different genders , all requiring make up and prosthetics that are successful to varying degrees. It’s not an easy movie to digest. But it is a movie I want to see again. I can only hope that movies like it continue to be made.
The latest Bond movie is not your Dad’s Bond movie. Sure, all the usual tropes are here. There’s the exciting opening action sequence, the colorful supporting characters, the over-the-top villain, and the exotic locales shot beautifully by Roger Deakins who deserves Oscar consideration (take special note of the exciting fight scene in a Shanghai high rise and a leisurely boat trip to a floating Macau casino.) This 007 adventure eschews the usual ‘world in jeopardy international espionage’ tale for a much more personal story of revenge and redemption, focusing more on the characters than the action that surrounds them. Daniel Craig is quickly establishing an iconic interpretation of the character that, in my eyes, has surpassed all but the man himself, Sean Connery. Judi Dench’s ‘M’, around whom the plot centers, is her usual brassy bad-ass self. Their relationship drives the film. The end sees Bond entering a new phase in his service to Her Majesty. He’s no longer the roguish, thuggish brute he was after first achieving 00 status. He has been hardened. He has matured. But he still has that killer charm and dry wit. Highly recommended.