Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Perils of Over-Sharing Online and How the Movie "Cloud Atlas" Makes Me Cry

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I just watched the movie Cloud Atlas for a third time.

The book was thought to be unfilmable. Somehow, the Wachowskis pulled off a miracle. As I wrote after viewing Cloud Atlas in the theater, this is one of the most important films in many, many, years. The public, for whatever reason, did not respond to it well. As the years and decades move forward, it will be loved and critically reappraised: there will be many edited volumes and articles written about Cloud Atlas. I can say that with certainty. It is/will be a new classic.

I am not one to cry in movies.

Our emotional responses to film are often a function of how art speaks to us and our emotional state at a given moment.

I tear up when Luke watches the twin suns on Tatooine because Star Wars represents my childhood with all of the good, the loss, the wonder, and being asked to grow up too soon, in many ways, that were not fair.

Years later I was a perfect jerk, quite literally walking out of the movie Garden State, because my girlfriend of many years brought me to see a movie in which the plot is driven forward by a parent passing away not too soon after my own father had died.

She did nothing wrong; when we hurt, we are often not ourselves. My bad behavior was not forgivable.

And Babe: Pig in the City just causes hysterical tears, for there are few movies that are such precise mirrors of human ugliness and the beauty of our animal friends.

The end of Beasts of the Southern Wild, when our young heroine communes with the great mythic(?) animals is one more moment that causes a tear mixed with pride for our little/big protagonist's amazing strength of will and character.

The conclusion of Cloud Atlas makes my cry. I am not yet sure if it is because of the movie's pathos and ability to communicate how people can prevail, and have prevailed over Power and indomitable odds, that moves me.

Maybe it is the sincerity of the film? It could simply be how the closing montage makes me think of the many Peoples Struggles around the world and what we have accomplished...and still have to do together.

Ghetto nerds cry at movies. We are Subotai the Archer from Conan the Barbarian. There is no shame.

What movies move you in ways that you may be embarrassed or ashamed to share?

I would like to think that I am not alone in my vulnerabilities to the emotionally moving power of great film, art, or literature.

I tell my students that popular culture "matters" because it says something to us, about us, and reflects the best and worst of who we are. That is its power. I hope that I am not wrong.


Wavenstein said...

Boyz in the hood. Ricky's death still tears apart my soul

chauncey devega said...

Do you think that movie has aged well over the years?

Wavenstein said...

Haven't seen it in a few years. I'll try to check it out again with a more critical mindset

chauncey devega said...

I think it is still very good, but some of the critical literature on it has changed over the years towards a tone that is much more negative.

Scopedog said...

THE IRON GIANT--when the Giant tells Hogarth goodbye before flying off to stop an incoming missile. I still weep like a child at that scene.

SCHINDLER'S LIST reduced me to a weeping mess.

And strangely enough, the episode of MACROSS when Roy dies. I still tear up at the end of that episode.

Wavenstein said...

I've noticed similar new critiques against some of Spike Lee's old work as well. What do Spike and John Singleton have in common?

chauncey devega said...

when big brother Rick dies I lose it to. That series was so far ahead of its time. You could watch GI JOE, the Transformers, and then get a dose of grown up stuff with Robotech. Good times.

Iron Giant hits hard too. I can't watch Holocaust movies as they are too upsetting.

Cain S. LaTrans said...

Cinema Paradiso, the original always makes me cry. Always.

chauncey devega said...

Embarrassing confession. I have never seen it. Don't judge...runs off to hide in corner.

chauncey devega said...

both are overrated?

SBlady said...

I'm pretty sure I cry when prompted on most movies. I think, the last time I really cried, that I can remember clearly is when I watched an HBO documentary of families who had lost everything during the financial crises. so many people had to start over at different periods in their lives. I think one family after losing the job and having to sell the home, the dad cleans out the basement and contracts some disease from rat feces and died leaving the mom and baby. If that don't beat all. I couldn't take the cruelty of it. Well, that's at least the most vivid, I can remember.

Wavenstein said...

They both have failed to live up to their early success. Brother Spike's documentaries are top notch though.

chauncey devega said...

There are several of those on HBO now. Too scary to watch for me. Just can't do it.

Magda Kamenev said...

I loved both the 25th Hour and Inside Man. Showy and having some glaring plot holes, but thoughtful, vibrant movies with great casts.

Magda Kamenev said...

I recently bonded with a bookstore clerk in L.A. over being middle-aged people who cried over Toy Story 3 ... both of us at two scenes.

I don't know what you said to your girlfriend, but I don't think merely walking out on a film because it's too painful/galling is unforgivable.

Wavenstein said...

Haven't seen 25th hour yet. Inside Man was very good. So good that I thought Hollywood allow brother Spike to make more quality films for the masses. He then followed that up with that awful Miracle at St. Anna garbage. He's been relegated to documentary or limited release status ever since. Hollywood seems to be fickle that way.

chauncey devega said...

when our villain is tied to the garbage truck I did let out a tear. TS3 is a very smart movie. Lots of stuff going on their with political theory and philosophy.

chauncey devega said...

25th hour is one of my favorite movies. I love the club scene at the legendary Tunnel (or I believe it was...just nostalgia for a spot I went to each wknd for a few years). My woman Rosario is amazing too.

naum said...

Best movie of the century (thus far :)!

Have seen it twice… …will purchase when it comes out on DVD.

Want to read the book again and have listened to about half-way through in the audio version (which is well done, a different voice reads each of the storylines).

chauncey devega said...

I may check out the audio book. Why wasn't the movie the hit it deserved to be?

naum said...

Confession: I tear up too at this, even the music alone can trigger… (Do I have to turn in my man card now? :()

Why the movie wasn't a hit?

1. Poor marketing -- though not sure how that could really be remedied, maybe instead of splurging on the little TV ad time it did, it should have tapped bloggers / fans of the book / previous Wachowski movies. Not easy to condense into TL;DR, and having a tagline of "everything is connected" was no doubt, too meta-confusing… There was a little push before the movie came out, but nothing after. And the staggered release -- it didn't come to the theater until 4 months later in many other countries.

2. I don't think movies like this can ever be smash hits -- at least not at this historical juncture -- it ahead of its time. Plus the big spiritual ethos manifested by the story is never going to sell as well as fiery explosions or sophomoric hijinks.

3. The "yellowfacing" criticism which I think was unfair given that all the main actors played a variety of roles -- it wasn't just white people in Asian costumes and masks -- all of the characters played different races and even genders, which for me, made this criticism silly. But again, it people criticizing without knowing the story which is hard to comprehend via a 30 or 60 second sound bite.

But I believe this is going to be a cult classic in the same vein of *The Big Lebowski* (though obviously, very different type of movie). For a fun exercise, go look at list of movies released in 1998 and confirm that *The Big Lebowski* barely registered a blip on the box office numbers, even taking in a fraction of the worldwide *Cloud Atlas* numbers (which looks like it generated more receipts than cost to make). 15 years later, most all of those other 1998 releases have been forgotten, even some of the award winners, yet *The Big Lebowski* continues to grow in fame and stature, probably the film that Jeff Bridges and some of the other cast are asked about today.

*Cloud Atlas*, though not in the same way, will see this effect, I think too, over the course of the future. It's a movie that for those that like will never tire seeing again and again. It has embedded into it deep themes of human ethos and pathos.

Jeffrey Coleman said...

I cried at the end of this film - watched it just as Hurricane Sandy was beginning - so it was extra epic.

I also cried this past year at the end of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because it (embarrassingly?) touched home for me.

And at the end of Silver Linings Playbook - because like Cloud Atlas that movie is just so sincere - it's really striking.

Pop Culture does matter: totally agree.

chauncey devega said...

I cried too. I sat their stunned in the movie theater when it ended. It was truly one of the greatest things I have ever seen. When I say great, I mean star wars 1977 great for me.

I know I am not alone in saying if and when I get the resources/opportunity I am going to certainly pitch an edited volume on the book and a conference. The maturity which with it dealt with race was amazing. Real talk.

chauncey devega said...

Silver Lining is moving. I love Dinero as the dad. Reminded me of myself in 35 or so years.

chauncey devega said...

Missed this the first time around. I was a perfect jerk. In many ways she was too good a woman for me. With maturity we realize things.