You know those people who like to tell you within the first minutes of meeting you that they read all of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (even the footnotes!) because they want you to think they’re smart? And then you’re all, “yes, certainly Infinite Jest was a challenge, and occasionally brilliant, but I didn’t find it as stimulating as Tom1Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, which I’ve read twice, once in the original Basque, as Pynchon intended2.” Those people also probably read and liked a book by David Mitchell called Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas is one of the most highly regarded works of literature of the Aughts, a big, dense book that literally spans centuries and is about lots of things. Cloud Atlas has been on my reading list for years, and recently I almost downloaded it, but then I got distracted by one of those Jack Reacher novels, which promised lots of fisticuffs and very few footnotes.3 A couple of years ago, it was announced that the Wachowskis, whose last film was the seizure-inducing Speed Racer, were planning on making Cloud Atlas into a movie. “Ho ho”, said a bunch of people in tweed jackets with the suede patches on the elbow. “That is a fool’s errand. Cloud Atlas is unfilmable, much like The English Patient, or the works of Stephenie Meyer.” But the Wachowskis pressed on, enlisted Run Lola Run director Tom Twyker and every available actor in Hollywood, and made Cloud Atlas into a movie. Here’s the epic five minute long international trailer, and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing.
Right? WTF? It’s like Amadeus meets Dances With Wolves meets The Tree of Life meets, I dunno, Blade Runner, The Fountain and Forrest Gump. Tom Hanks and his weird blond wig kind of threw me, but other than that, it looks pretty incredible. Of course, the Wachowskis are known for visually stunning movies that make absolutely no sense (still waiting for someone to explain the 2nd and 3rd Matrix movies to me). And Cloud Atlas looks like the novel sounds: dense, multilayered, intricate, which in filmspeak means “costly box office bomb”. Heady concept movies don’t usually do well, but props to the Wachowskis for trying. Look for Cloud Atlas to hit the big screen in October of this year, and Blu-ray sometime in December.
1 His mama call him Tom, Imma call him Tom.
2 I have no way of knowing that this is true, but it sounds impressive, which is, of course, the point.
3 Yes, Tom Cruise’s next movie is Jack Reacher. See? All things in life ARE connected.