Forever in Waiting

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas (2012)

Directed by: Andy & Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer

Written by: Andy & Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer

Cinematography by: Frank Griebe, John Toll

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess,
Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Bae Doona

Rating: A

I’d love to provide a rundown of the basic plot, main characters, and actions that make up Cloud Atlas, but I don’t want to, or rather, I don’t think I have to, but more importantly, I don’t think I can do it any kind of justice. Look no further than its official synopsis: An exploration of how the actions of 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. I get it; that can sound extremely overwhelming, dare I say even pretentious, but if you’re honestly not even the slightest bit intrigued to see all that unfold (especially if this is all you saw and/or knew of the film), then I’d suggest you stop reading right now.

It was almost a year ago that I saw that extended six minute trailer about six interconnecting stories spanning six different timelines. That was enough of a glimpse to make me eagerly await the day that I could watch those six minutes turn into a nearly three hour film. In anticipation, I read the David Mitchell book it’s based upon, and absolutely devoured the score until it became ingrained into my every thought. Unfortunately, I did not get to witness the film during its initial run in the theater, and it would appear neither did many of you. Yet, six months later, not only have I finally seen Cloud Atlas, but I’ve reseen it, and reseen it, and every viewing gives me a newer, if not better appreciation for its intricacy, its beauty, and its sheer scope—each story at once standing apart, but continuously being woven together—relentless in its approach, yet never compromising on its vision.

A lot of that has to do with the actors and their commitment to that vision, from the always reliable Tom Hanks, to the absolute revelation that is Doona Bae; from the endearing Jim Sturgess and Ben Whishaw, to a highly effective Hugo Weaving, not to mention a charismatic Jim Broadbent; even Halle Berry delivers a subdued performance. To handle any one of these roles must have been a daunting task, but to juggle six of them, all various degrees of separation from one another is commendable to say the least. Sure, some of them are minor, or serve as nothing more than glorified cameos, but each one works and elicits a reaction and works towards the narrative as a whole. Most of that narrative’s success lies solely with its directors: Lana and Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer. The Wachowski’s are no doubt household names due to The Matrix (1999), but Tykwer has his own somewhat underrated track record which includes Run Lola Run (1998) and The International (2009). A special and much needed honor needs to go to the film’s editors Alexander Berner and Chris Wehlisch. Together, they manage to tell six different stories as one, focusing on love, courage, and destiny, in the past, present, and future, creating a symphony of emotions. To their credit, it never feels rushed or unnecessary. In fact, I could watch each individual story play itself out in its entirety without cutting back and forth among the others. The fact that the film warrants multiple viewings doesn’t work against it; in fact, you’d be remiss not to watch it again and again. The film actively requires nothing more than your full, undivided attention, and I think that scares some people.

Absolutely nothing about this production screams easy. Hell, nothing about this production even reaches the level of cookie cutter we’ve come to accustom such big budget fare to. Perhaps that is why, I suppose, the average moviegoer refused to give this a film even a first look, let alone a second or a third. I’m not saying the film succeeds in everything it sets out to accomplish, but very rarely am I in sheer awe at a film’s sense of ambition. Surely something must be said when a film manages to not only exceed one’s expectations, but outright create them. We hear this all the time about cinema; that it’s an experience, that when powerful enough, can stay with you, and transcend the screen, and really make an impression on our lives and how our imagination sees and understands things. We hear it all the time, but how many times can we honestly say we actually experience it? How many of us can truly say that every film viewing experience we’ve had is akin to having seen something like Star Wars for the first time, or even The Matrix, where everything just clicks a certain way on both the screen and in our minds perfectly?

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and a lot of you will be making the difficult choice of whether or not to spend your hard earned money on Fast and Furious 6 or The Hangover Part III, and you’re all free to make whatever decision you like, but just think about this: movies like that are literally a dime a dozen, and if one fails, another one immediately takes its place, and no one’s the wiser. You could however make a third choice. You could seek out Cloud Atlas, a film that no one will probably attempt to ever make again, a true one of a kind in every sense of the word. I’m not even saying you have to like it, but you owe it to yourself to find out, and to not dismiss it because it seems to mash multiple genres and ideas together.

Don’t let them say I killed myself for love; had my infatuations, but we both know in our hearts who is the sole love of my short, bright life.


all that chemistry, all that chemistry
even in our autopsy, even in separate cities
and being together all toxicity
in each timeline, a catastrophe
why do you know me so well
why can’t i know myself
all my looks i know are telling, all your touches you keep selling, let me pick this love apart. let me steal your beating heart. i know we’re bad for each other, so bad i know we’re right for each other, we’re mad -ly in love? no we’re just mad. a disease i can’t get rid of; the price i can’t bid, love. the one face i hid, enough. i dream and you’re saying you want me back, i wake and you’re saying you miss me. i’m asleep and you’re telling me you made a mistake, i’m awake and you’re telling me you can’t wait to see me. you say i should come back, what does that mean – are you over me? or will you be under me? “come back” you tell me, what does that mean? does that mean you’ve moved on? or that you miss me?
i’m finding it harder to believe that you don’t feel it too
that what we’ve had or have is true,
that every “you” only means You,
even if we keep saying what we had is through.
when we’re together cities burn and hearts catch fire, villages flood when we desire.
hold me, I just want to feel safe. for this exact moment, i’m awake. we let our paths cross and rewind as you put your hand in mine and we live in the now, safe from time now we start over, i call you friend we both know how this ends. you know you fit best next to me, so let’s stop lying and let this be.

i’m trying my best not to relate to movies no more
i’m trying my best to live in the real world
but how can i when you’re a silver lining
how can i stop meeting you in montauk
how can gatsby stop breaking my heart
when we are one in the same,
where me fitz and lana are our own version of the breakfast club
but detention never ends
and the weight of living isn’t an albatross
but a sinking ship on the horizon
you know i rode to earth on the backs of birds
how can i be both the prince and the rose
full of pride and ephemerality
but each step brings me back full circle
while each step brings you back to me
you’ve tamed me, you’ve slain me

I have been waiting my entire life
for you to catch up by my side
before I hop the train to farhampton
I just need to see your face again
schicksal, I whisper as I leave
you laugh like I’ve made a mistake
i’ll try again then, przeznaczenie
all this chemia doesn’t go away

Morning Sickness [feat. Ani]

how could I ever close my eyes, how could I ever turn off my mind, if each image projected onto my eyelids is still you, and it’s 4AM and I’m miles away and you’re sleeping home, dreaming safe, and I’m lying here watching the neon of my clock tick my minutes away, the minutes that don’t matter because you’re not here anyway, tick tick tick, but it’s digital, the ticking’s in my mind, it’s metaphysical. how are you my ghost when you’re alive, how can I miss you when you’re by my side? love lost is not love at all. it’s making me physically sick not to call. but the unknown trumps the unwanted truth. I don’t want to know if it’s no use, for me to base my world on a shaky future, that exists 13% of the time, if I’m lucky, for sure. hey man, get in line. the first time machine is mine.

No, I’m sorry, but DMC went bankrupt. Clocktower didn’t exist, it was always on the backlot. Now I’m backtracking, my heart’s set on flashbacking, and I’ve got my time circuits on with my flux capacitor attacking the infinite futures in which I’m just an analog romantic in a digital situation, no texts, calls, or relations. Ship already set sail, it’s a difficult navigation, where SnapChat’s not a substitute and it’s starting to become a nuisance, to really express my feelings when there’s never an absolution. Your future’s not Parkinson’s, though much love to M. Fox, but his family ties are making you become a has been. I wish I could dream it off, I wish I could sleep you off, I wish I could reap the rewards had I kept you in my life, but now I know it’ll always be me and my total loss.

Hey now, this isn’t a suspension of disbelief. At least there’s a possibility in my reality. Foundations to run back to, and no I’m not trying to attack you. I tried to cold turkey it, I swear I tried to quit. But it’s like picking up a book you left ages ago because you couldn’t handle the ending, except this is a choose your own adventure – finish line, pending. I don’t model my life after any m-fox, Michael or Megan. My only problem’s with the box, and letting the cat out again. Trust me, I’m not a has been; especially when, the universe has only afforded me the flaws of monsters and men. Trust me, I don’t need any lessons alienating people and losing my friends. Though it’s funny you mention my shaky hands, or do you mean my shaky plans? Because I really can’t sign any more leases, the loans on my heartstrings could be my thesis. I’ve spent two years writing about Schrodinger, only to realize I was wrong about Winger. I don’t need DMC to tell me to run, I’ve been marathoning since day one. Okay so I’m not completely innocent, I wish his paternal umbilical cord was spent. I’m not above wishing manipulators into comas, or turning see you laters into temporary homes, ah, well I guess infinity’s not infinity and snapchat and whatsapp aren’t new to me – no it’s not a substitute, but then again what’s the use? There’s no such thing as a clean break, a new beginning. So I might as well keep score, and hope that soon I can go back to winning.

I don’t choose my own adventure, I write my own literature, and I hope I can connect to, but I only further disconnect her. You’re right, she’s not my reality, simulation, or otherwise, and I would know, I’ve run them all with clarity, precision, and love in my eyes; but it’s my demise, and I am truly happy with it. No cold turkey, or Ninja Turtles’ sidekick, the only fox I am is Mr. Fantastic. He was voiced by Mr. Clooney, who’s trajectory I’m following, I bet he’s never had a problem communicating with his sex’s opposite. Facebook purge, I am not familiar with it, though if people get rid of me, I probably wasn’t worth the bandwidth. You keep saying “Trust me,” and I do wholeheartedly, but I fear half-heartedly that you’ll leave me with no-heart-in-me. I was always the box, and the question forever confined in it, but you were the answer to “dead or alive or nonexistent ” I’m no longer wanted, no one gets the bounty; take my name off the milk carton, cats don’t even drink me. I’ve been in the real world for close to a year, and I don’t have a job yet, and I’m told writing doesn’t pay the bills, so I should stop with this bullshit. I’m pretty sure I’ve rented out my flatlined heart twice before, and they’ve only come back broken every time with a ruined safety deposit box down by the shore. She’s become my tabula rasa, I didn’t ask for a clean slate; I was just trying to play for keeps, but she kept keeping score on me–of all the times she laughed and cried, and all the times I made her angry, and all the times I was never there, and all the times I was nowhere else but by her side still feeling lonely.

i could’ve easily told you rent-a-heart’s not lucrative, switch to stealing them, status: fugitive. god i wish my heart would stop beating, that it would stop his misleading, cause each time, it kickstarts my pulse, only to come back again, results? false. i’m forgetting how to talk without drinking, i’m too caught up over thinking. tabula rasa? man there’s a reason latin died, i mean who thinks anything is bona fide? okay scratch that delorean, I don’t need to relive the past again. as long as it’s not a streetcar, because that’s my yellow card. give me a penalty, take him away from me. yelling for stella while depending on the kindness of others? i wish i had their help now. where art thou, o brother? i mean i thought the albatross was mine, when we had a skype date on valentine’s, and i made the cat wait patiently in the other room, if only i knew what i had that soon. same night we watched 500 days of summer, and we thought we had our roles set. you still think i’m zooey? yeah, take a second guess. i’m the hero of the story all right, tmnt off in the night. spare me the opposite of batman fight, both me and gotham need our dark knight. the real world’s overrated, two seasons in new york? both outdated. yeah, fine i’ll admit it. i know all we are is disjointed, or sure, just full of shit. i wish it were that easy – to put his face on the carton and have someone bring him home to me. since when did these cats gain agency? i let him walk into my condo without a key? i’m thinking this is no longer my story. the second i became a carnival prize, some kind of glory. he never learned love’s for two, not three. or four. no wait, you’re right. i’ll stop keeping score. here’s the grand finale – my entire life is a failed pep rally.

Rent-a-heart? Swag’s missing. And Haverford? He was with the worst. I seem to have a thing for them regardless of which show I’m in, and I always wish to be renewed for a new season of me and you, though all of our finales end too soon, cancelled early, with a posthumous following like The Last Tycoon. Cause of death? Involuntary manslaughter, watching our Dundler Mifflin end was the real Scranton Strangler. I’m trying to forget last Valentine’s, but all I can remember is when you resigned. Knowing what you know now, and knowing what I knew then, would you have acted differently? Would you have thrown it all away? I almost did, of me and my dream, of me on the screen, where I’m the writer/director of my own team. I never had a budget, and you want to talk indie work? I’m the Indian Clerks: Dante insecure, and happily a Randall jerk. I grew up in the real world, and it ain’t so scary, though I had the benefit of a quiet suburb in New Jersey. We didn’t have streetcars, I hated being a mallrat, and I never thought I’d fall for Zelda as a tomboy. She wasn’t a Paris wife, that would be the wrong city. She wasn’t in my sights, that would be the wrong country. My scope’s no longer at the ready, even while drones fly nearby, but warfare seems stupid when love’s on standby, because love’s not worth it, because love’s on lockdown, because love’s just jealous that I’m happier without it. So why am I so excited? I wasn’t even invited to join in on the festivities that don’t include me standing atop a wedding cake, or you throwing a bouquet to a crowd of girlfriends I’ve never met, though I’m pretty sure they know me, I’m pretty sure I’m infamous – damaged goods in a ruined dress, now six months later with morning sickness.


Grounded in Reality

Iron Man 3Iron Man 3 (2013)

Directed by: Shane Black

Written by: Drew Pearce, Shane Black

Cinematography by: John Toll

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley

Rating: B+

Marvel kicks off Phase Two of its cinematic universe much in the way it did Phase One back in 2008 with the first Iron Man: with a simple, yet highly effective film that’s immensely grounded in reality. I know we hear that a lot. Every film of this genre is said to be grounded in some sense of reality, but there aren’t many that make you forget you’re watching what in essence is a “superhero movie.” Now that may sound degrading to the genre, but I assure you it’s not. In fact, I’d say it’s a testament to that genre if I no longer wish to call it just a “superhero movie.” The genre is allowing itself to be taken a little more seriously, with an exceptional balance of humor and heart, which can only be a good thing for audiences looking to get more than your generically scripted, pointlessly loud, special effects driven fare.

It also helps that Iron Man 3 is incredibly standalone once all is said and done.

The Iron Man of The Avengers is almost nowhere to be found here, no longer having a super solider, the God of Thunder, or a Hulk to play off of, but they’re not necessarily needed here either, and the film greatly benefits from this sometimes literal stripped down approach. Since we last saw him, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has been keeping extremely busy building numerous variations of his armor because he’s experiencing post traumatic stress after the events that took place in New York. Taking a break from saving the world, that responsibility falls on Colonel James Rhodes’ (Don Cheadle) Iron Patriot, while Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) heads Stark Industries, with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) now being promoted to Chief of Security. When old faces from the past Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) resurface, Stark is forced to confront them, as well as a maniacal Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) behind the scenes, along with an army of regenerative, flame resistant, Extremis laced super soldiers.

There’s a reason Iron Man 3 falls closer in line with the original rather than its predecessor, and that’s because it’s not bogged down by anything. There’s no detour with S.H.I.E.L.D. or Nick Fury, and the few times the events of The Avengers are brought up, it’s to further explore Stark’s own worsening condition. There’s no question that Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. What’s remarkable is that now four films in, he can still find a way to create a character that’s not only still interesting, but refreshingly so. Stark has always been charismatic, and brilliantly arrogant, but for the majority of this film, he’s not the cocksure man in the iron mask we’ve come to expect. He’s vulnerable in a way we haven’t seen before, precisely because the story is very contained, very personal, and very much in the here and now–that sense of grounded in reality I had mentioned earlier–even when Stark is nowhere near his element. He’s a man on the run, with limited resources, and only his mind and vengeful drive to work with. The rest of the cast gets a lot more to do this time around, from a highly involved Paltrow, a finally engaged Cheadle, and even Favreau manages to infuse Hogan with a great backstory, all of them further building upon their relationships with Tony.

On the flip side, Rebecca Hall feels vastly underused, having shown great promise in just the opening flashback alone. Conversely, Guy Pearce’s Killian feels like Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2 finally done right (and far more competent at that), with just the right amount of brawn to back up the brain, giving the character a sense of gradual growth as we watch him go from scientist to supervillain. That leaves the versatile, and I do mean that in every sense of the word, Sir Ben Kingsley, who takes the Mandarin in a direction that I assume many will not expect. It fits the narrative of the story extremely well, and further enhanced my appreciation for the grounded in reality approach this film, by creating a terrorist much in the vain of OBL. The man plays his part not only effectively, but efficiently, never letting on anymore than we have or need to know.

Of course none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the masterful execution by writer/director Shane Black. From the ongoing narration, to the eventual team up of Rhodes and Stark, I was all smiles at how reminiscent it was of his feature debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, as well as his other scripted features like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. From taking place around Christmas, to the witty and sharp bits of humor throughout, not to mention the extremely clever placement of the action set pieces (especially with all of the different suits), Black not only picks up the mantle from Favreau effortlessly, but infuses the franchise with his unique brand. Iron Man 3‘s model really accentuates its individual character, and despite Marvel taking great pride in its ability to successfully connect every possible thread among its films during Phase One, one can hope that the rest of Phase Two follows suit before converging again in The Avengers 2.

You know, it’s moments like these when I realize how much of a superhero I am.

Deleted Scene [Part II]


Jai stands near the entrance by the intercom. Light snow amasses upon his green plaid pajamas and navy blue t-shirt. Farah stands on the sidewalk in front of him, smiling in a winter coat over an elegant purple dress, with newly done hair, and holding a small white rose in her left hand.

“Well, don’t I feel under dressed,” he starts, arms folded, and leaning against the glass.

“What the hell, why aren’t you ready yet?” she begins to make her way towards him, “If we don’t get there early, we won’t find seats.”

“She’s your roommate,” he gives her a smug smile, “if she didn’t reserve you a table, then I think it’s time to seriously reevaluate your friendship.”

“I hate you,” she stops a few inches from him. A smile escapes her lips. “Can’t you just let me be mad at you?”

“Not when you look like that I can’t.” He waves his hands over her hair. “Wouldn’t want to mess up this Anastasia look you got going on.” She grabs him by the arm, and drags him into the lobby.

“Get up there, put on a suit, and meet me down here in ten minutes.” She does a miserable job of pouting, yet is quick to push him into an elevator. He stops the door from closing with his foot.

“Aren’t you coming up? Plenty of room.” He gestures towards the empty elevator space like a magician’s assistant.

“Do you need help picking out a shirt? Because I’m not your mom.” She pushes the up button. He lunges forward and stops the elevator with the side of his arm.

“Just for that remark, I will not be matching my tie to your dress.”

“Okay. Don’t. Now go.”

They slowly back away from each other; he to the far end of the elevator, and she towards the reflecting wall behind her. The elevator door closes.

Lit my first cigarette; got choked by my own second hand.
I read my own shit and laugh, because I am my biggest fan.
I am my only critic who’s worth it and/or gives a damn,
yet I still write myself hate mail, with death threats and stalker spam.
I watched it burn out beneath my feet; I sympathize, it used to be me.
If love is truly blindness, then I’m going to need an organ donor.
Forget human interaction, nowadays it only takes a computer.
I think 21st century American Lit should thank me for not drinking,
or else I’d Hemingway this shit; no disrespect, but I’ve been thinking
that young and beautiful were never really my adjectives.
They were always yours to represent, and for me to bask in.
All it ever took from you was a “how are you doing?”
I should’ve stopped you [and me] right there with a “thanks for asking.”

Yes, my hear’ts a mess, but you’re getting harder to miss;
in the lost cause of hopelessness lies the source of my anonymous failures.
Pillowcase dreams ruined by bedsheets’
ghosts from the past that we can’t repeat;
offenders of time, we never had a chance to meet
the parents we’d become if we ever got some sleep.
Walking by, stealing glances, and breaking hearts weep,
while distant eyes painfully continue to seek
affection not limited to everything we read
in chapters bleeding indigo tears so sweet;
hereafter, the future looks bleak without your smile as my peak.

My Nissan uses a push button to start, but I miss turning the key.
I keep looking back in the rear view, and your face there seems like a distant memory.
Believing in that green light goes against all that’s in my red,
to never feel yellow about expressing being blue forever in your head.
We are not together Nick Carraway, you’re full of shit.
West Egg went ahead and cracked into a self-made Gatsby omelet.
My dreams are now more ambiguous; why do you think I’m writing this?
Horoscope told me to indulge in simple pleasures, and I was clearly not listening.
Told me to accept the inevitable, when it was just an abandoned script I wrote.
Now I’ve got writer’s block after sixty pages, and
this is on the cutting room floor?

Jai strains his eyes staring into the metallic control panel of the elevator, trying to loosen his purple tie. He finishes tucking in his shirt. He reaches into his suit’s pocket and pulls out a pack of gum, taps it on his palm three times, before lifting the tab and pulling out a stick of gum with his teeth. He lets it linger on the tip of his tongue before withdrawing it between his index and middle finger. He unfolds, puts the piece in his mouth, and crumples the wrapper into a tiny ball. The elevator door opens before he has a chance to flick it away. He steps out, notices a trash can, and tries to toss it, yet even from a short distance, it’s an air ball.

“I hope you’re happy,” he bends down to pick up the wrapper and throws it away properly; underhand. “You know how long it took me to tie this? Why do I even have a purple tie?” He turns around and notices Farah fixing a tie of her own; it’s Zakhir’s, and it’s yellow. When she sees Jai, a smile escapes her lips, causing Zakhir to turn around and face him.

“Well aren’t we all just dressed to impress today?” Zakhir tightens his tie.

“I’d say you have me beat there sir.” Jai makes his way towards them.


“No, I’m actually from Jersey.” Zakhir smiles, and points to Jai’s tie. “Oh, right. I don’t know, it was probably made in like Sri Lanka. What ever happened to clip-on’s, am I right?” He raises his hand midway for a high five.

“Zakhir, this is–” Farah manages to step in.

“Jay.” He turns his failed gesture into an extended handshake.

“It’s nice to meet you Jay.” The two shake hands. “How do you know Farah?”

“I live in the same apartment.” Farah eyes widen, making a ‘go die’ face, as Jai continues to smile at her. “The floor. I’m in 1212.”

“That’s great. Where are you headed tonight?”

“Just a small party up in the East Egg.”

“That’s great. I’m pretty well connected up there. What do you do?”

“I’m a comedian.”

“Oh, that’s rich. Are you performing for them?” Farah runs her hands over Zakhir’s shoulders, clearing some leftover lint. “Right. We should actually get going; running a little late for this reception, but it was nice to meet you Jay. Hopefully we’ll cross paths again. You could even MC our reception if you’d like.” The two shake hands. “Honey, I’ll bring the car around.” Farah nods, as Zakhir makes his way out of the lobby.

“So, yellow, huh? Bold.” Jai strokes the purple silk on his chest.

“Shut up,” she lightly flicks the tie out of his hands, “yellow compliments purple.”

“And clearly purple hits purple.” He fixes the tie, closing the buttons on his coat. “Make sure you let me know when you’re on your way back, and I’ll try to be out by then.”

“Out? Come with us. Tell him your party got cancelled, and I’ll suggest you come along.”

“You know I can’t do that Farah. Didn’t you hear? I’m performing there.”

“He didn’t mean it like that, and what am I supposed to tell Alice?”

“It’s okay, she’ll understand. Besides, I already got to go to her wedding with you.” He gives her a wink and a light nudge. “You’re going to be moving into a full-time job, and I’ll rent out a place closer to the club. We always said this would only be an arrangement of a few weeks. I’d say this is end of the line.”

A car horn honks twice from outside.

“I guess it is.” She smiles, and closes are coat by wrapping the buckle around her waist.

“You should tell your folks about him. Yellow tie aside, he’s quite the catch.”

“Yeah, he’s great. So, I’ll see you tonight?”

“Something like that. Have fun.”

She gives him a hug, and hands him the white rose. They slowly back away from each other; him towards the elevators, and her towards the lobby doors. The elevator opens, and he enters, never glancing back to see her drive away.

She asked me why I was smiling.
I told her, it’s been a good night.
She said it still was, and could continue to be.
I told her, it’s been a good night.
I’m finally going to see
Cloud Atlas.


This week instead of the usual post, I’m presenting my Indiegogo.

Essentially this is the story of why I’m afraid of walking alone at night or around Dartmouth in general. It’s also why I’ve stopped interacting with people.

Please, please share, it’d mean the world to me.


Familiar Horizons

OblivionOblivion (2013)

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

Written by: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt

Cinematography by: Claudio Miranda

Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman,
Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough

Rating: B+

Familiar’s not always a bad thing; at least not on the big screen. We’ve allowed for countless remakes, reimaginings, and reiterations, of every possible genre–be it drama, horror, or romantic comedy. Science fiction however, is trickier in that regard. By its very nature, it’s almost required–by both the audience, and those creating it–to expand upon the unconventional, showing us things we’ve perhaps never seen before. It’s expected to challenge us while still charming us, and failure to do so leaves a bitter taste in our mouths, so we begin to make comparisons to all that came before, and throw upon it allegations of trying to be something it couldn’t be; trying to be something it’s not, but more importantly [to us], trying to be something we won’t allow it be.

Oblivion is not the most original sci-fi film you’ll ever see, and I’m totally okay with that.

It’s the year 2077. We are told that Earth was destroyed 60 years ago when aliens known as Scavs took out our moon, invaded, and decimated the land, making it uninhabitable. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), along with his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), are in charge of protecting Earth’s remaining resources, and sending them to a space station called Tet, controlled by Sally (Melissa Leo), which in turn sends those resources to Titan, a survivor’s colony on Saturn’s largest moon. When an unexpected spacecraft crashes while Jack is on patrol, he meets its lone survivor Julia (Olga Kurylenko), sending him on a journey of self-discovery.

Tom Cruise has yet to disappoint me in a role. There’s a reason Cruise’s lasting power at the box office has remained, and it’s primarily because no matter how far his star rises, he is ultimately believable as an everyman, even on an uninhabited planet where he is literally the only man. We happily follow him to the ends of the Earth because we feel the same sense of attachment to this planet that he does; that despite the ruins, it is still our home, and perhaps can be once again. Andrea Riseborough is exceptional in her role, and I only wish I’d noticed her sooner. She breathes immense life into Victoria, and makes for a perfect partner to Harper; the right balance of heartfelt and heartbreaking confusion. Likewise, Olga’s portrayal of Julia, while full of unwritten depth, fell short for me primarily because it was not nearly as well explored as Victoria’s, in relation to Jack. Melissa Leo’s Sally is absolutely grating in the best possible way, and Morgan Freeman is effective without being excessive.

Take your pick: Total Recall (1990), The Matrix (1999)Wall-E (2008), and even Moon (2009) come to mind, among many others, when attempting to make connections to Oblivion, either as mere visual cues or even to vague plot points; but as my preface to this review states: it’s not necessarily a hindrance towards my enjoyment of the final product. If anything, I see it less as a sense of lacking originality, and more of a director’s deep love of the material, but more importantly, the genre itself; almost a tribute to all that has come before it, and an attempt to carve one’s name upon it as well.

This is director Joseph Kosinski’s second feature, after TRON: Legacy (2011), and to say the man has improved leaps and bounds in almost every aspect of his production/direction efforts is perhaps an understatement. I adored Legacy, probably for all the wrong reasons (Daft Punk score represent), but even its many detractors couldn’t argue with the visual aesthetics and ability to create a unique world for the moviegoer. Oblivion only places its bets a little higher, and in the process, Kosinski manages to create a world that has a lot more heart to go along with its well designed architecture than his previous venture. Everything feels a lot more tangible given Kosinski’s deft handling of not just the material, but the actors and attributes involved in bringing it to life in such vivid detail.

I was surprised most by the film’s simplicity in both presenting and piecing together this seemingly complex world and everything in it. For the film’s first hour or so, all we witness is Jack doing his job, doing it well, and coming back to base. He detours every now and then, so we can catch a glimpse of how ravaged the Earth has become, but all the while, there is an unmistakable sense of humanity forever searching to find beauty again; and never has a dystopian future looked truly so magnificent. If you get a chance to catch it in IMAX, you’ll no doubt be in awe at the lush clouds while in flight, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets as far as the eye can see, unexplored snow covered mountains, deep canyons, and even the base itself, complete with a suspended swimming pool. This world is carefully crafted, right down to the types of vehicles and weapons, and we’re left to immerse ourselves in it at every turn–sometimes I’d argue, at the expense of the narrative. Add to it an absolutely enchanting score by M83, and it’s a world I never wanted to leave, and wouldn’t mind exploring further without such constraints.

Is it possible to miss a place you’ve never been? To mourn a time you never lived?