Monday, June 10, 2013

So Many Movies…So Little Time

Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend! I was able to get a lot of things done including switching out the last of my fall/winter clothes for spring/summer, laundry, organization and some office work. While I was working in the office, I was able to watch a couple of movies that I definitely recommend.

There was a time in my life where I saw at least one movie per week in the theater, usually two. Those were fun times but a lot has changed since then. Nowadays, I rarely go to the theater, mostly because I don’t seem to find anything I want to see. Since signing up for Netflix and Amazon Prime, though, I’m able to watch just about anything I want either on my iPad or on the TV using a Blueray player, which is hooked up to the internet. 

While I was working in my office on Sunday, I watched two movies: “Requiem for a Dream” and “Cloud Atlas.” You may have seen them before but if not, you should check them out!

“Requiem for a Dream,” a 2000 film by Darren Aronofsky, stars Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. This film depicts addiction (in a couple of forms) and it’s aftermath. The subtext of “The American Dream is out there but unattainable for some people” threads throughout the film as each character reaches for their version of “the Dream.” The characters’ actions have far reaching implications on each life but one doesn’t get the sense that any of them feel sorry for themselves; they are simply caught up in a situation from which they have no idea how to escape. I’m not going to give the story away but I do think it is worth watching and it’s one I will probably watch again. Ellen Burstyn is amazing (she was nominated for an Oscar for this role) and the way the film was shot is very creative.

I saw “Cloud Atlas,”  a 2012 film by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, for the first time about a month ago. That time, as I typically do when watching a movie with my family, I was multitasking by reading emails, message boards, etc. I literally had no idea what the movie was about when it started and, consequently, I had no idea what was going on within the first five minutes of the movie (it didn’t help that I wasn’t really paying attention). 

“Cloud Atlas” is based on a 2004 novel by David Mitchell and it spans multiple lifetimes of the same characters, ranging from 1849 to 2321. The film’s “official” synopsis describes it as “An exploration of how the actions in individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.” As soon as I started paying attention, I quickly figured out the idea of the separate time periods (it's obvious but a little confusing) as the scenes switched from one “segment” to another even as the same actors played different roles in each period. Some of it is just brilliant such as Tom Hanks playing everything from an evil doctor in 1849 to a scientist in 1973, a gangster author in 2012 to a tribal leader in 2312. Other actors you’ll recognize include Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from “The Matrix”), Jim Broadbent, Keith David (who, oddly enough, was also in “Requiem for a Dream”) and others.

The whole idea of people and actions being connected over time is fascinating to me (a quote from the film: “My life spans far beyond the limitations of me”). When you think about it, we all impact others throughout our lifetime. A child you raise (or influence) may go on to be President, invent an important technology or later give birth to a future revolutionary. Values you instill in your children will carry on or the disadvantaged child that you help to get an education may do things that will never happen if you aren’t there to play an important part in their lives, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Actions, thoughts and beliefs are carried from one person to another, from generation to generation. As Sonmi 451, an important character in the 2144 timeframe ends her final interview with the Archivist, she is asked, “What if no one believes this truth?” to which she answers, “Someone already does.”  To me, that’s comforting and probably why I will watch this move again and again. I’m also planning on reading the book!

Have you seen either of these movies? What did you think? Have you seen any great movies lately?