Ruth's Diary


On Friday I went with 3 others to see Cloud Atlas. I won't talk too much about it because it's honestly a movie you have to see. I can't help but marvel how 6/7 very different stories all intertwine in a cohesive narrative. Also, consider that actors are made to play very different characters throughout the movie (apart from Hugo Weaving, who despite playing vastly different characters always portrays some sort of obstructor of progress) and they do this convincingly. In fact, while the story is a touching, quietly optimistic one about humanity and how individuals treat each other, there is also something fun about seeing which actor appears as what character in a different story, seeing how it is these souls and characters fit together.

In fact, while this movie doesn't follow the cliche of how 2 souls always find each other in every lifetime (good, I hate that cliche) it is fun to see how and when 2 souls first met, to understand the chemistry they share in a later life. While the fun element comes from the film winking at you, as sometimes actors show up playing characters in time periods so close together, you know it's impossible that the soul in the previous life had to completely die and be reborn in order to show up in the next one. So it's satisfying to see the end credits and introduce an actor, with a slideshow presenting all the characters they portrayed, and feeling proud of how many you spotted. Sometimes they were obvious, other times I was thinking "He was that guy?!?!" (One of Hugh Grant's characters got that reaction out of me.)

And so I come to the controversy that surrounded this movie. A civil rights/anti-prejudice group in America was insulted that Anglo-American actors were portraying Koreans in one of the stories and accused the producers of only using basic 'yellow face' make up. Usually, I'd agree with such accusations in a heartbeat because as much fun as it is to joke around with stereotypes, I hate it when they are portrayed as fact. Especially as there is a dearth of cool Asian American celebrities. But, in this case I don't agree with them. I agree that the 'Asian make up' on the non-Asian actors looked unconvincing (mainly because it made them look like convincing Aliens as opposed to Koreans), but apart from the make-up job on Halle Berry in certain scenes, none of the attempts to make actors look like another nationality worked. Again, apart from making Halle Berry white, NONE. So I just accepted the make-up and prosthetics like theatrical masks: a mechanic to inform the audience they are meant to look like something/one else.

Besides, it's not like any of the Asian characters were acting like stereotypical Asian characters/anime fans.

I also wondered about the status of the Wachowskis within Hollywood. The reason why is because of the other reason this film got infamy: people learned Larry Wachowski became Lana Wachowski. I watched her acceptance speech when she was presented with the Visibility Award at the Human Rights Campaign Gala Dinner. Now, the speech itself was entertaining and inspirational (her mother needs an award) but I take issue with how she was introduced. First of all, referring to the Matrix Trilogy as "one of the most successful movie franchises of all time"? Really? Most people regard the trilogy as being a pale comparison/forgotten memory compared to the dozens of slasher franchises of the 80s or Harry Potter. Or Star Wars. Or Lord of the Rings, which came out in the same time period and dwarfed it. She is also described as a "legend in Hollywood". she? Compared to directors like George Lucas (he may be disgraced, but he is still a legend), Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino or James, I don't think she's achieved that status just yet. I think the Wachowskis need a few more hits under their belts before their names join the ranks of those that make people sit up and take notice.

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