26 Feb 2013

Notes on "Cloud Atlas" by the Wachowski's/Tom Tykwer

I guess I could describe "Cloud Atlas" as Art House meets Sci-Fi for the Information Age.  Ultimately this film is an attempt to bring numerous strands of sometimes, disparate stories together, culminating in a cohesive conclusion.

Despite some critical murmurings about over-complexity, "six films in one" and general incomprehensibility, the message of the film (and possibly the book it is based on) seems quite clear.  I also heard an accusation of over ambitiousness, which is a little bit sad in times when the arts are suffering from the affliction of post modernity. 

Essentially, "Cloud Atlas" endeavours to illustrate that human beings are all connected, despite race, time or our position in the "pecking order".  Intrinsic to this idea are the notions of reincarnation, an after-life or heaven and heredity.  It seems reasonable to claim that personality traits live on from one generation to another (Darwinism/heredity/genetics) however one assertion in the film, that traits and occurrences reiterate themselves throughout generations because of molecular or energy shifts in Space Time, seems a little whimsical.  Nonetheless similar ideas and speculations are found in physics, which may lend some weight to the concept.  Maybe not! 

A similar idea is explored in the film "Avatar" where aliens and human visitors to their planet can access a "tree of ancestors". 

Although somewhat tedious in its moralising, "Cloud Atlas" does elicit a potent sense of humanity, throughout each of the different stories.  In a similar way to the Matrix trilogy, ideas of truth, morality, heroism and the ability of individuals working together to overcome adversity or corruption are common themes.  In an artificial, constantly changing and disconnected reality, where objectivity and materiality continually question our sense of intrinsic humanness, this film offers the idea of a continuity of human and humanitarian values where ever the future takes us and throughout our histories.  One could argue that the film champions a secular, positive spirituality or, perhaps a kind of humanism.

For me, the film is interesting and worthwhile because it has an artistic relevance in the sense that it attempts to move towards a global art-form, within the genre of cinema.  Global art(s) describes art-forms and concepts that reflect the positive aspects of globalisation and multiculturalism.  My belief is that Global art moves us towards a new avant-garde that moves beyond postmodernist narratives of the decline of the West as a leading cultural, economic and intellectual force.  This avant-garde may comprise of the displacement of cultures and the merging of varying cultures to create new art-forms and styles.

Briefly, I wanted to mention a number of other salient aspects of "Cloud Atlas".  It is worth noting that, from my point of view, this film is not as good as the Matrix Trilogy.  However, there are times when the film screams "The Matrix" out at the viewer!  Particularly during the futuristic story lines.  Sydney Pollock's approach to cinema can quite clearly be seen as an influence, in both the theatricality of "Cloud Atlas" and the sci-fi elements.  Peter Greenaway may also have influenced the directors with his boundless enthusiasm for theatre and often, multi-faceted meanings.  The film allows the music to speak during emotional moments, often sounding like Glass or Reich, which conveys emotional potency.  Although there are some beautiful visual moments, the cinematic style is not dissimilar from jumping from website to website on the Internet.  Indeed, information overload seems to have influenced the cinematic style, however this does not detract from the ability of the film to cohese seemingly disparate story lines and bring them to an exciting climax.

9 Feb 2013

ArtHouse: Jaya Suberg

ArtHouse: Jaya Suberg

Interesting mixture of ideas and techniques in Jaya Suberg's art.