Cloud Atlas (2012)

“Deep, Clever and Fascinating Story, Stick With It” 8/10

Cloud Atlas explores the lives of several “souls” over the course of centuries to see how their past lives impact their future lives and how they can be changed and shaped by their circumstances and the current state of the world that they live in.  The film takes us full circle, from centuries ago more primitive lifestyles, to present day, right through to the high-tech future and right back to our primitive forms again, and shows us each “souls” journey through time.

The first time I watched this film, I gave up half way through.  It was overly complex and short, each character offering only a snippet of their story before they were replaced by another character’s half-story, and they never quite seemed to link up.  I didn’t feel like I could sense any promise of something good and so switched off, turning my attention to the fact that it may be better as a book and considering reading that instead.  Two days later I had completely changed my mind, having had time to think over the story and the message, and watched it right through, and I wasn’t disappointed with the second half.  The film is certainly confusing and disjointed, but you just need to stick with it.  It takes a long time to get off the ground but when it does you realise how clever and profound the story is, how important each of those half-stories of characters are, and it all starts to join together, making more and more sense with every new scene.

Each of the main actors (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw to name but a few) has several characters that the portray, some recognisable as themselves, some utterly unrecognisable, and each actor characters are all part of the same “soul”, which is what makes it so clever to watch once it eventually becomes apparent that this is the case.  The story is just so cleverly written and it’s really enjoyable to watch the actors play each different character, showing off their capabilities.  If I had to pick the strongest link I would say Tom Hanks, who I think is a really brilliant actor who is capable of playing a variety of roles, particularly the reluctant hero, and I think he was absolutely suited to such a film where he could display his acting range with a wide selection of varying roles.

Cloud Atlas may be somewhat confusing and very slow-burning in the beginning but the plot really is something quite special and rare, exploring a concept that is practically undiscovered.  It is a deep, clever and fascinating story, stick with it and you’ll grasp its sentiment.  I am in no doubt that I will now explore the book as well.

Advertisements

The Green Mile (1999)

“Beautifully Acted and Touching” 9/10

 

The Green Mile looks at life on Death Row, told from the perspective of guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) who recounts, as an old man, his encounter with mysterious prisoner John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a convicted child murder who has more to his story than meets the eye, including a very curious ability.

 

This film is such a classic and it’s beautifully acted.  Tom Hanks is an incredible actor and he delivers yet another exceptional performance as the sensitive guard willing to treat his prisoners like people, unlike his colleagues such as the harsh and unforgiving Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison).  Michael Clarke Duncan delivers a really touching performance that culminates into an emotional ending that may bring a few tears.  Even the other prisoners, played by Michael Jeter and Sam Rockwell, offer emotive performances with their own descent into madness knowing that they are waiting to die.  The majority of the film is set in either the prison block or the electric chair room, which helps to reinforce the intense feeling of entrapment.

 

The story itself is a little unusual as there is a touch of the supernatural throughout, however it’s surprisingly easy to accept this into the normality of the film.  As you can expect from a film about Death Row it is a little upsetting to watch at times, but it’s mostly a carefully woven story that gently unravels the history of the prisoners and why they are all there, focusing much more on the emotional aspects of such a setting for both the prisoners and the guards, rather than the physicality of it.  I only have one real criticism: it was too long.  At just over three hours long I felt like it was losing its emotional momentum and could have managed without some scenes and been just as, if not more, powerful a film.  Nevertheless don’t be put off by the length, unlike some lengthy films there are no points where you get bored watching it drag on, and even if you feel yourself getting lost towards middle of it, the final third brings you right back into it.

 

The Green Mile is beautifully acted and a really touching classic film.  Despite being a little unnecessarily long it offers a real heartfelt journey and an unusual story that will really evoke some emotion – well worth the three hours of the film!

Captain Phillips (2013)

“Incredible Acting and a Fascinating Story” 9/10

This film tells the incredible true story of Captain Richard Phillips who captained a cargo ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. Told from the perspective of Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) himself, the story recounts his ordeal aboard the ship and the ways in which he bravely deals with the pirate leader, Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

Set nearly entirely aboard the ship that Captain Phillips took charge of, there is a dramatic tension running throughout the film, even before the story really kicks off. What really makes this film so good is knowing that the story is true and you can’t help but be captured by the bravery and courage demonstrated, and the realisation that these events are still so current, so memorable from news stories not too many years ago. It is no surprise that this film was highly nominated for Academy awards: Tom Hanks gives an outstanding performance as Captain Phillips, a heroic and likeable character that offers a surprising flip side to the way in which the Somali pirates are viewed and offering real compassion and understanding in a way that is truly admirable. However I felt that the limelight was stolen by newcomer Barkhad Abdi with an impressively convincing and complex performance as the hijacker’s leader, again offering the chance for the viewer to change their preconceptions with a persuasive character.

I highly recommend Captain Phillips, it’s gripping, thrilling and really changes your perspective on the situation throughout through some incredible acting. A must-see.