Cloud Atlas. From Ebert’s 4-star review:
Even as I was watching “Cloud Atlas” the first time, I knew I would need to see it again. Now that I’ve seen it the second time, I know I’d like to see it a third time — but I no longer believe repeated viewings will solve anything. To borrow Churchill’s description of Russia, “it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” It fascinates in the moment. It’s getting from one moment to the next that is tricky.
Surely this is one of the most ambitious films ever made.
I can’t wait. I’ve actually read the book.
Now I’m not normally a fiction reader but a few years ago I set my heart on reading awesome recent fiction, just to see if I’d like it. So I found these two lists of the top 10 novels of the 2000s, one voted on by critics and one by non-critics. There were only four books that made both top 10 lists. Perfect, I thought.
And here they were: *The Corrections* by Jonathan Franzen, *The Road* by Cormac McCarthy, *2666* by Roberto Bolano and *Cloud Atlas* by David Mitchell.
So I bought them all and read them. They were all good and interesting but none were as good as I was hoping. Authors have an agenda, I suppose, and it isn’t the same as mine as a reader. Well told stories about real life are ALWAYS more entertaining.
The Corrections was probably the best of the group but was marred, in my view, by Franzen’s jarring take on the Denise character. His mockery of her archetype was a bit too outrageous. It made me feel like he didn’t really understand her. Enid almost made up for it, but I never recovered.
The Road was my least favorite, so I’ll skip it. 2666 was just weird and not really a novel as I’d previously imagined it. I enjoyed the thing but I feel like it would work better as a series of magazine articles.
Cloud Atlas was easily the most ambitious of all the books. I read a review of it that suggested that Mitchell needs to stop trying to show off as a writer and just write. I see where the reviewer is coming from. Cloud Atlas is an extraordinary mix of genres and character types, humor and fantasy and drama and… everything. And he does it all better than many genre authors can muster in their silos.
And he ALMOST got it all to hang together as a whole piece.
That a film has tried to pull that off is impressive. That it might have actually worked is astonishing.