October 25, 2012

"All you can do while you puzzle over it like a board game is try to figure out which member of the hammy all-star ensemble, unrecognizable in lurid makeup..."

"... wigs, period costumes and rubber prostheses, is playing which man—or woman—while the viewer-unfriendly screenplay squirts and splatters all over the place.... I mean, Hugh Grant as a bloodthirsty cannibal?"

Did you know Rex Reed was still writing movie reviews? 

Here are some trailers for "Cloud Atlas."

Are you still following the Wachowskis, who are no longer the Wachowski brothers?
On Saturday, Lana Wachowski (co-director of the "Matrix" franchise and "Cloud Atlas") received a "Visibility Award" from the Human Rights Campaign for her recent decision to publicly come out as transgender. In a powerful 25-minute acceptance speech, Lana spoke about the pain she went through growing up and how she developed self-acceptance. Video. Transcript. Q&A with the Hollywood Reporter.
From the transcript:
Andy and I have not done press or made a public appearance including premieres in over 12 years. People have mistakenly assumed that this has something to do with my gender. It does not. After The Matrix was released in ‘99 we both experienced this alarming contraction of our world and thus our lives. We became acutely aware of the preciousness of anonymity -- understanding it as a form of virginity, something you only lose once. Anonymity allows you access to civic space, to a form of participation in public life, to an egalitarian invisibility that neither of us wanted to give up.

50 comments:

Moose said...

How about a link to what you're referring to?

TML said...

This post isn't rendering correctly. Is this about Cloud Atlas? Never read it, but "The 1000 Autumns of Jacob DeZoet" is one of the most amazing novels I've ever read. Stunningly beautiful and involving.

Clyde said...

I'm guessing this was about the movie Cloud Atlas?

Scott M said...

Cloud Atlas. I knew from seeing Hugh Grant as a cannibal. I read the book after seeing the massive 5 minute trailer and was constantly referring back to the IMDB page for cast and characters.

Here's the deal. The author originally wrote five completely unconnected stories that had nothing to do with each other. I'm not sure over what span of his individual life those were written, but he claims he spent about 20 minutes making the necessary changes that tie them all together.

While the individual stories are exceptionally well-written, the book only offers the most tenuous of links.

THERE IS NO OVERARCHING THEME OR STORY

This is where I'm anxious to see how the Wachoski brothers (yes, I said brothers) deal with that in terms of a cinematic setting. While the stories themselves are good and most likely provide ample scenery to chew on for the impressive caliber of actors involved...and thus it might be good for that alone, ie, watching five mini-movies...I'm betting anyone going in looking for a narrative is going to be disappointed.

The trailer certainly makes it look like there is one. There just isn't.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, I somehow accidentally hit "publish" in the middle of drafting this post.

Please ignore earlier iterations.

Ann Althouse said...

Is this one of those movies where if you take the right drug it's very enjoyable but it's horrible otherwise?

What is the drug?

Scott M said...

I meant to add that the structure of the book, while very well-written and moving, is unnecessarily complicated, itself lending to the illusion of a book-long story. The stories are split up, from memory, like this;

Age of sail
1930's
1970's
Now
Future
Far Future
Future
Now
1970's
1930's
Age Of Sail

Tom Hank's f-bomb on morning TV last week is, I think, his "vallyman" character from the far future.

Matthew Sablan said...

"What is the drug?"

-- Low expectations.

Palladian said...

What is the drug?

Judging from the second part of your post, I'd say the drug is some sort of powerful hormone.

EDH said...

I've always liked Rex Reed's movie reviews, positive or negative.

Often, I come away from his reviews of the movies he trashes wanting to see them, because he trashes them so entertainingly.

Darrell said...

Sounds like something for my "Must Miss" list.

Thanks for the heads-up!

wyo sis said...

"What is the drug?"

-- Low expectations.

exactly!

Eustace Chilke said...

I can indentify with Wachoski's reaction to losing anonymity even without losing mine. I resist losing even small bits of the hoard of anonymity I possess.

The loss of his junk, not so much.

Scott M said...

Is this one of those movies where if you take the right drug it's very enjoyable but it's horrible otherwise?

The Wachowski's are capable of telling a good story and they definitely have a flare for excellent visuals...but like M. Knight, their best work may be behind them. We'll see.

As I said, even if they didn't contrive a meaningful link between the era/stories, the actors involved in this movie can make it exceptional. I think the main problem, from an average moviegoer's perspective, is that movie audiences in general don't go in for layer upon layer upon layer of plot, theme, and symbolism. They, like their reality TV-swilling couch brethren, would rather have everything handed to them on a platter, plainly labeled, and preferably with as many explosions as possible.

I'm still optimistic and will be in place tomorrow night to see it on the big screen, but I don't know how much of that optimism is simply my nature. It's certainly not due to the Wachoski brothers' track record.

Eustace Chilke said...

Explosions. Cool!

I like it when the hero is all like "I don't give a fuck. Let the fucker blow up." Ima be like that when shit blows up.

virgil xenophon said...

Wachoskis' complaint about loss of anonymity is well founded. Just ask a guy named John Lennon who tried to live a normal public life like an average citizen on the streets of NYC..

Salamandyr said...

Haven't made up my mind about this one. I'll probably see it at home on video. I enjoyed The Matrix and Speed Racer was surprisingly fun, but V for Vendetta was so awful I feel guilty for ever giving them money again.

Scott M said...

Wachoskis' complaint about loss of anonymity is well founded. Just ask a guy named John Lennon who tried to live a normal public life like an average citizen on the streets of NYC..

I think it's hysterical that the junkless brother can complain about losing anonymity while sporting neon-pink dreadlocks.

Matthew Sablan said...

Scott: A pretty girl explained it to me once. She said: "I don't want to be recognized, I want to be noticed."

Dr Weevil said...

Did anyone else think it was odd to hear a transexual describing virginity as "something you only lose once"? For most people, obviously it is. But I would have thought that the first time he, now she, used her new equipment would be a lot like a second loss of virginity. If it feels exactly the same with the new equipment as with the old, what's the point of spending all that money, unless you're just trying to freak people out?

Scott M said...

If it feels exactly the same with the new equipment as with the old, what's the point of spending all that money, unless you're just trying to freak people out?

Because you buy into the worldview that you have a hard time keeping out of your movies perhaps?

virgil xenophon said...

@Scott M/

LOL, I was just making a general point w.o. even thinking about the "junkless bro" (lol) Your point about the neon-pink dreadlocks is dead on--only spotlights the fact most of these guys want to have it both ways--the money, adulation and A-list access to all the right night-clubs, but to simultaneously be considered non-elitist, normal "of the people" jes folks types..

The Farmer said...

I'd be so bummed if I lost my egalitarian invisibility.

Salamandyr said...

So do we know if Lana has actually had the reassignment surgery, or just living as female and taking the hormones?

It's my understanding most transgenders have not had the surgery (but I could be wrong)>

Scott M said...

It's my understanding most transgenders have not had the surgery (but I could be wrong)>

I believe "Lana" is a pre-op Transformer.

edutcher said...

Rex Reed wants everybody to know how sophisticated he is.

Sad to say, people don't care.

William said...

The skill and imagination of those who design special effects far exceeds those who write movie scripts. I like big budget special effects movies where large cities get destroyed or future worlds become palpable. Some very dumb movies like the Transformers are quite enjoyable despite the cheesiness of the script. I thought Avatar and John Taylor were kind of dumb, but the background world presented in those movies was so utterly wow that plot development and characterization were almost beside the point.....Every so often, like in the first Matrix movie and the first Star Wars trilogy, the wit of the script enhances the genius of the the special effects. When that happens, the experience is something more than entertainment......I don't know if the Wachowskis will ever recover the first fine careless rapture of the Matrix, but it's certainly worth the price of a ticket to find out.

William said...

Transgender operations are like first rate special effects in a cheesy movie. We know more about surgery than we do about sexuality.

Moose said...

As for the Wachowskis no longer being brothers - whatever. Transgender-ism is just confusion embodied - so to speak. Unlike tattoos it's a hell of a lot harder to remove (or restore).

Kit said...

Lana Wachoski - love her, love her, love her.

..what's the point of spending all that money, unless you're just trying to freak people out?

Don't put it on them...if one is feeling freaked-out, it's because one is letting themselves be freaked-out.

Scott M said...

Don't put it on them...if one is feeling freaked-out, it's because one is letting themselves be freaked-out.

First part of that statement is fine and dandy. Second part is just wrong. Being "freaked-out", however you describe that, is an emotional response to something externally perceived. Your statement makes about as much sense as saying, "if one falls in love, it's because one is letting oneself fall in love."

You can make the argument that "freaking out" over something may involve ignorance of the subject matter at it's heart, but that's different than being responsible for the involuntary actions of one's emotional responses.

EMD said...

"The skill and imagination of those who design special effects far exceeds those who write movie scripts. "

I call bullshit on this.

Pastafarian said...

"...anonymity...something you only lose once..."

Oh, think again, good sir/madam. Keep making shit movies like "V for Vendetta" and "Speed Racer" and you'll regain that precious anonymity.

Christy said...

Loved the book and so look forward to the movie although I cannot imagine how they thought they could make a movie of that book.

Aren't fancy special effects and cgi just pre-digested pap for the unimaginative?

Scott M said...

Aren't fancy special effects and cgi just pre-digested pap for the unimaginative?

No. In the case of CGI, it is the best way to bring otherwise unfilmable content to the big screen in remarkable clarity and contrast. There's no less artistic expression in the jungles of Pandora than there is in a brush/oil/canvas masterpiece.

Saint Croix said...

What these "doctors" are doing are dumping estrogen into his body. This does not actually turn you into a woman. He's not going to give birth to a baby, ever. What they are doing is dramatically affecting his health for the worse.

Estrogen is a sex hormone. It's designed for sex and pregnancy. It's beyond insane for doctors to attempt to change a man into a woman--which you're not going to do--by dumping chemicals into his body.

Breast cancer is 100 times more likely in women than in men. Why is that? Estrogen. Too much estrogen in your body is the primary factor in breast cancer.

This is a little-talked about side effect of estrogen-based birth control. You're injecting estrogen into a woman's body. So it's similar to what Wachowski is doing. And, like Wachowski, you're increasing the odds that you will have breast cancer.

Ditto with abortion. You are stopping a healthy pregnancy. In a pregnancy, your body is filled with estrogen. It changes your body. For instance, your breasts get bigger.

Estrogen does that. This is why Wachowski's breasts are getting bigger. Doctors are dumping estrogen into his body. Estrogen is for pregnancy. But he's not pregnant! He'll never be pregnant!

There's no medical reason for all this estrogen.

Thus the practice of medicine has been corrupted by choice rhetoric.

He wants to be a woman. Other women want pregnanies to disappear, or stop them from happening in the first place. And so doctors flood the body with estrogen to facilitate choice (and willful behavior) while ignoring the damage that we do.

Saint Croix said...

Giving birth to a baby actually reduces your risk for breast cancer. We're not sure why. We just know this is what happens.

One theory is that your new estrogen cells in your breast mature. They differentiate. And so they are no longer at risk for cancer.

There's a natural, biological purpose for estrogen. It's for pregnancy, it's for your baby.

Nuns have an increased risk for breast cancer. Why? Celibacy. Not having babies is bad for you.

One might theorize that it's natural for women to have babies. That's why you have estrogen in the first place. Your body is designed for pregnancy. It's made for reproduction.

But if you're celibate, your estrogen turns on you, and gives you cancer. If you're dumping estrogen into your body to avoid pregnancy, cancer. If you abort a pregnancy, all that natural estrogen in your body has nothing to do. Cancer.

The point of estrogen is for human reproduction. Life! But if you elect not to reproduce, your own body starts turning against you.

Sam L. said...

AH! Another movie I shall be sure to miss!

Christopher in MA said...

Rex Reed is still alive? Who knew?

And really - taking five different stories and tying them all together in one movie? 1916 called; D.W. Griffith wants his idea back.

Darcy said...

I watched the trailer in the movie theater last night waiting to see "Argo". I said to my sister "This kind of thing is way more fun for a lot of people to believe in or imagine than believing in God is."

Loved "Argo".

Baron Zemo said...

Why would you waste 20 bucks a ticket to go to the movies when you can see all the special effects and horror you could want on Honey Boo Boo or the two headed twat?

Movies are way overrated.

Lem said...

Is this one of those movies where if you take the right drug it's very enjoyable but it's horrible otherwise?

What is the drug?


I dont think anybody answered your question... its like we are on a debate audience.

Anyway... One of the pills returns the protagonist to the matrix - the pleasant fake world the machines had created in odder to keep every one in control - and the other pill allows the protagonist to leave/exorcise himself of the Matrix fake world.

Here is that scene

It appears one of the brothers found a way to carry out a sort of Matrix like Exorcism.

Good luck to him/her.

Scott M said...

"This kind of thing is way more fun for a lot of people to believe in or imagine than believing in God is."

Is that because the trailer led you to believe that the whole thing is the same couple of characters winding their way back and forth across the centuries?

Cuz it ain't, more's the pity. At least that would have had a point. This doesn't, comet-shaped birthmarks aside.

The only real religious overtone here is in the age of sail story. Seen through the lens of a 21st century person and not through that of an 18th century person, the context will probably get lost. What is somewhat interesting is that the one character that probably best represents the Wachowski brothers' worldview is one of the most evil, as it turns out.

Darcy said...

@Scott M

Yes. I did get that impression. But also the "no one ever really dies" vibe. Have no idea if that's correct either, but the trailer bored me and I actually like some of these epic fantasy romance films. I thought "What Dreams May Come" was very good. Well, except for the overdone psychedelic colors. That got very annoying.

Scott M said...

I still think there's a chance for a good movie here, Darcy, I just don't think it's going to be as accessible to those that haven't read the book. There's every possibility that the Wachowski's have created something the book wasn't and it will carry on it's own, especially given the ridiculously talented cast. I had planned on making it a date night, but my wife didn't read the book and I'd much rather chew it over afterward with someone who did.

tiger said...

Eustace Chilke said...
I can indentify with Wachoski's reaction to losing anonymity even without losing mine. I resist losing even small bits of the hoard of anonymity I possess.


This.

And especially this:

The loss of his junk, not so much.

Darcy said...

Well, if/when you do see it, Scott, I hope you'll find a way to post a short take on it. :)

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firstHat said...

Hard to follow that last comment!

Love all go Mitchell's books. Cloud Atlas was my favorite. As Christy said, can't imagine turning it into a movie.

jr565 said...

Scott M wrote:
I think it's hysterical that the junkless brother can complain about losing anonymity while sporting neon-pink dreadlocks.


So true! Outside of the Hollywood circle who would ever know what the Warchowski brothers even looked like. If I was standing next to them, I wouldn't know. Yet, even if I didn't know who the Warchowski brothers were I'd be saying "who's the post op with the bright red hair" if I saw him. If you really want anonymity you probably shouldn't make over your bodkin such a way as to have everybody stare at you.