starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant
screenplay by Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski, based on the novel by David Mitchell
directed by Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski
by Walter Chaw It speaks to the extraordinary hubris of the tripartite godhead behind Cloud Atlas (the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer) that in the middle of a 172-minute film composed of interminable exposition and multiple timelines, they would invoke long-winded Russian prisoner Solzhenitsyn without fear of ironic reprisal. More, it speaks to their hubris that they would make a film this sprawling and messianic about the Disney maxim that you're never too puny to change the world, so don't stop trying, tiger! If you're at all offended by white people doing the "ah, so" thing in yellow-face, by the way: relax, because there're also white people doing the evil Fu Manchu thing in yellow-face. What there isn't is white people doing blackface, suggesting that if you're about to make the argument that Cloud Atlas is about how we're all the same under the skin to the extent that we could have been different races in past and future lives, then don't bother. That doesn't stop the movie, though, from talking about the evils of slavery with a super-duper, plantation-attitudes-changing Magic Negro, or from positing a future-Korea that clones wage-slaves before paying off never-accidental post-modern self-referents. If you were to take Cloud Atlas remotely seriously, in fact, you'd have to address it as an attempt to create a completely post-modern artifact in a world that didn't already have "Beavis & Butthead". Quick, look, the author of that manuscript the old editor in the 2012 timeline is reading was written by the kid from the 1973 timeline who had a crush on one of the black versions of Halle Berry (the one playing Pam Grier)! Did I mention that Berry has a timeline in whiteface? Or that Hugo Weaving and Ben Whishaw have ones in drag?