Archive | Random Thoughts RSS feed for this section

What Look Was Madonna Going For at the Met Gala?

7 May

Last night was the Met Gala, which is both the Oscars of Fashion and the fanciest theme party of the year (the gala celebrates the opening of the Met Museum’s big yearly fashion exhibit). This year the theme was ‘Punk’, and some really interesting things happened. There were some people who simply ignored this and went for old-school glamour:

Amanda Seyfried in Givenchy. I want this dress SO HARD.

some that went halfway and took a lovely gown and then added just a touch of punk in the form of insane eye makeup or extreme hair:

I think the look on Julianne Moore’s face really captures that moment when you’re on the red carpet and then remember that your hair looks like it should have a little tiny surfer right on the top of it.

Remember the first time you ever put eye makeup on but didn’t really understand how it worked so just filled in everything up to the eyebrows? So does Ginnifer Goodwin.

And then there was Madonna.

I have to give it to her, because she was really the only one who captured the “fuck it all” attitude of Punk (isn’t it a little ironic that this whole party was the fashion establishment doing a look that was entirely based on being anti-establishment?). But at the same time, I do wonder exactly what look she was going for. So I’ve come up with some options:


1. Anjelica Huston’s character on SMASH, Eileen Rand, if ‘Bombshell’ fails and she has to become a dominatrix.

2. Comedian Emo Philips starring as Sally Bowles in a concept production of ‘Cabaret’ in a regional theater somewhere.

3. Prince Valiant as a ‘business formal’ Frank-N-Furter.


My Lingering Thoughts on the Oscars

26 Feb

So, the Oscars happened last night. And I have thoughts! So let’s just dive in, shall we?

-First of all, did anyone else feel like they didn’t have a horse in this race at all? I saw a bunch of the nominated movies, more than I usually do, and my feeling on almost each and every category was ‘yeah, whichever is fine.’ Not because there weren’t great performances or great movies, but I just didn’t feel personally attached to any of them this year. Honestly, I think my favorite performance of the year was Hadley Fraser in Les Mis, because he managed to make the guy who sings “you at the barricades listen to this” into a character with a rich full inner life and history, and I didn’t think that was even possible.

-Renee Zellweger, what the hell?! I spend a good chunk of my life saying that we squinty-eyed folk actually do have functional eyeballs, and then you go and stumble around oddly and seemingly can’t read anything. Get it together, Zellweger!! We need you! The large-eyed Tarsier people are winning!!

-One of my favorite things about this Oscars was the fact that Quentin Tarantino’s date was a woman named Lianne Spiderbaby:

This is awesome for a number of reasons. First of all, because I adore that dress and always support messy sidebraiding. Secondly, because if you google image her a lot of photos of her with knives and blood come up, which leads me to believe that they are one of those ‘inevitable’ couples, like Bjork and Matthew Barney and Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter. I mean, who else would they date? “So, what are you into?” “Oh, graphic violence. Blood spatter. You know.” “Oh my god, me too!!” See what I mean? And lastly, and most obviously, because her name is Lianne SPIDERBABY. I would like to imagine that many generations ago in a little village somewhere, a town elder said “John who mills we shall call John Miller. And Robert the barrel-maker shall be Robert Cooper. But whatever shall we call Sven, who midwives the arachnids?”

-How amazingly charming were Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron dancing? Who knew?!?! And Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe?! I mean, come on now. I think they should host the Oscars next year as a saucy song-and-dance team, and Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum can just glide on in whenever there’s a transition or a joke that doesn’t go well.

-What is with these otherwise fashionable girls choosing wan ill-fitting pink prom-y dresses to actually win an Oscar in? Between Gwyneth Paltrow in this:

And Anne Hathaway in this:

It’s like there’s something about the promise of an Oscar that makes ladies think that they must find some pink satin stat, but not invite any boob support to the party. And then pair the look with a necklace that doesn’t suit the neckline (Anne Hathaway’s necklace drove me nuts. No necklace with that neckline – long simple earrings! Arm full of bracelets! Rookie mistake!!)
Come on, ladies. If you want to do a pink dress that says THAT’S RIGHT, BITCHES, I AM WINNING A FUCKING OSCAR TONIGHT, take a look at Fan Bingbing:

Fan Bingbing is one of my favorites always, because she is a woman who knows how to wear a dress. Probably very few on the red carpet knew who she was, but I bet when she passed, every single head turned. Take notes, ladies – that’s how you win the evening, whether or not you win the Oscar.

-I feel like Kristen Stewart on the red carpet is the equivalent of those toddlers you see responding to having to go somewhere they don’t want to go by throwing a tantrum and then becoming dead weight that their parents have to drag; they’ll go, but they’ll make it as hard as possible and let you know that they are miserable the whole time. I always think when I see Kristen Stewart that she probably HAS to go to some events, but I doubt she HAS to go to the Oscars. And if she does HAVE to, please remember that your profession is being an actor, K-Stew. You could at least act like having to put on a dress and comb your hair isn’t the most miserable boring thing that has ever happened to you.

-For real, is Nicole Kidman wearing the Batman logo over her navel?

I loved this dress on camera (it’s so shiny she looks like a seal just coming out of water in the red carpet photos), but I honestly can’t figure out that belt. Is she signalling her willingness to take over the franchise when Christian Bale leaves? Is she telling us with the very Klimt-ian gold swirls at the bottom (which match the design on the floor of the stage) that she wants to be a new villain called ‘The Kisser’? Inquiring minds want to know.

-Speaking of those swirls on the stage, those are EXACTLY the doodles I used to draw all over the stage in high school. I even drew them on a lampshade when I was in my DIY phase in college.

-I love that they did a tribute to musicals, then did three musicals. You know, only those three musicals that they’ve made movies of. Good thing they could think of those three, because there certainly aren’t any other possible choices to include. I mean, really, if they were going to pay tribute to something, they really should have picked an industry with a rich full selection of options, not puny musical theater. And there’s definitely no other musicals on film. That must have been hard for them.

-Hey, remember when the Tonys had Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail write a rap about the show for Neil Patrick Harris to do at the end of the evening? Remember how funny and perfect and awesome that was? Then remember last night when Kristen Chenoweth came out, and dueted on what was Seth MacFarlane’s maybe fifth unfunny song of the evening? Yeah.

-How adorable was it when Hugh Jackman came to Jennifer Lawrence’s rescue when she tripped on the stairs? Can we just declare Hugh Jackman to be officially the best human being ever? I mean seriously, I feel like if an alien race ever attacks, we should present Hugh Jackman as proof of what humans can be, and then I’m sure the aliens would be like “oh, good point, you guys have potential. Okay guys, back to the home planet.”

-Also in the running for best person ever is George Clooney, who is the only person who has ever called to mind both a beautiful Roman statue and a sexy young Santa Claus at the same time.

-And speaking of impressive hair, how about all the long blond-haired guys winning? It must have been a party in Lothlorien last night, is all I’m sayin’.

-Okay, if I don’t end now, I’ll go on forever. So until I remember the big huge thing I forgot to say tomorrow, I’ll say au revoir until next year!

My Thoughts on Lincoln

14 Jan

A few weeks ago, I entered a theater to see the movie ‘Lincoln’. And then four score and seven years later, I left that theater.

I bet you thought I was going to write about the Golden Globes, didn’t you? Well, you’re right, that would probably make more sense. But I’m a little bit tweeted out on that one, and on a delay, so I thought instead I would write about the Spielberg-and-Kushner, much-lauded, probably-going-to-win-the-Oscar-except-that-Argo-won-it-last-night-and-does-that-change-things?, felt-like-we-were-experiencing-the-events-of-American-history-in-real-time, not-a-short-movie ‘Lincoln’. Which, on the whole, I would say that I admired more than I loved – it’s beautifully done, but you never forget that this is a NOBLE IMPORTANT film about a NOBLE IMPORTANT part of American history. But of course, I had more specific thoughts, many of them about 1776. So here they are, in no particular order:

-Daniel Day Lewis? More like Daniel DAY-UM! Lewis. (see what I did there?) Seriously, that guy is a good. fucking. actor.

-Hey, remember that time that the movie ended? It was about twenty minutes before the movie ended. Why did they do that? Lincoln walking down the stairs heading off to his fate was poignant and acknowledged the future without actually showing it. And then they showed it!! Unnecessary.

-Was I the only one who thought for just a moment that maybe an angel was going to crash through the window at that staircase moment? I sort of want to see the scene of Lincoln with the congress of angels.

-Okay, I am very happy that they made a weighty tome about a very important person and moment in American history, but let’s be honest, it would have been much more fun if it had been more like the jaunty musical 1776. Come on, you know I’m right!! There were definitely heavy moments when I thought, just sing about it, guys! Come on!! Look, I’ll do it for you:

(to the tune of ‘But, Mr. Adams’):

Mr. Lincoln, but Mr. Lincoln
Though abolition you desire with much intensity
For long-winded stories you show a propensity
So of opponents in the congress there’s a density!

See? Way more fun.

-Similarly, there’s ample room for a ‘Lees of Old Virginia’ comedy romp. There’s Lee Pace! Tommy Lee Jones! Uh,  Joseph Gordon Lee-vitt! Daniel Day Lee-wis!! It writes itself.

-Real question: is this movie going to bring around a trend for man shawls?

-Also real question, rhetorical version: how great are the actors in this movie? How great is it seeing all those theater actors? Watching those congress scenes I thought to myself, how did I not notice when this was filming!? The theater district must have had tumbleweeds blowing across it since every New York actor was off on the set. And you know who are fucking great? New York theater actors. More of them in movies, please. But not so much that they stop doing theater.

-It should also be noted that both Michael Stuhlbarg and John Hawkes were in this movie (and in the same scenes!), two of my primary celebrity dream husbands. If Nathan Fillion had been in the back as, say, a saucy delegate from New Hampshire or something, I think my ovaries might have exploded.

-Jared Harris, who played Ulysses S. Grant, also played Lane on Mad Men and David Robert Jones on Fringe. So in one year he played an American civil war icon, an unhappy British office worker in the 1960s, and a time-traveling supergenius who gets cut in half by a black hole. Not a bad year! I hope he’s one of those people who writes Christmas cards with updates included.

-I have to admit, before I saw this movie I was a little jaded about Tommy Lee Jones, and thought that he pretty much played the same thing every role. But this reminded me that although he isn’t a chameleon, he is incredibly good at showing the layers of vulnerability below externally tough characters. Daniel Day Lewis was amazing, but when I got home I found myself thinking more about Tommy Lee Jones’ character; I think I cared about him the most.

-Also points for James Spader, who looked like he was having so much fun that it gave much-needed fun injections in an otherwise not-so-fun movie. I love actors like him and Jude Law who seem freed by not being as studly as they once were; it’s like they can finally unleash the character-actor beasts within.

-Could there be a special Oscar Category for Best Intentionally Terrible Wig? Because Tommy Lee Jones’ hideously lank tea cozy of a topper deserved its own movie.

Mes Réflexions Sur ‘Les Miserables’

31 Dec

As you may have heard, the movie version of ‘Les Miserables’ opened. And people have opinions! So many opinions. But you know who else has opinions? Why that’s right! Yours truly. And so I thought I’d share some of them. But you might want to buckle up, because I’ve been listening to and watching Les Mis for years, and as a natural-born overanalyzer, I’ve thought a lot about how the show works. So some of my movie thoughts are going to be a little more musical theater wonk. But don’t worry, I’ll also talk about fun stuff like OH MY GOD HOW MUCH POOP ARE THEY COVERED WITH WHEN THEY GET OUT OF THE SEWERS. So, in no particular order, mes reflexions:

-On the whole, I loved it. It’s a beautiful movie that captures the soul of the show, which captures the soul of the book. And I love that it is unabashedly a musical – I’m so glad they stuck with it being through-sung and recorded live.

-Russell Crowe. Oh, Russell Crowe. You see, I adore Russell Crowe, ever since I saw him as Bud White in ‘L.A. Confidential’, which is an incredible performance and if you haven’t seen that truly excellent movie you should stop reading this right now and go rent it. There is no one I can think of who captures better the combination of true dangerous violence with a vulnerable pain visible right at its heart. I was super psyched when I heard he would be Javert, because I thought that this combination would be great for Javert, a character who must shed his righteous, protected facade to reveal the panic at having his entire worldview shattered. But it just didn’t work, did it? I realized that Russell Crowe, as good as he is, just doesn’t read well as a law-keeper; he is best as a law-breaker, as in ‘L.A. Confidential’ and ‘Gladiator’. And of all the characters, Javert is the one whose voice should be most in control: he is a man who is literally all about being rigidly in line, within boundaries, maintaining the law. Russell Crowe’s rocky sliding all over the place weakened Javert in a way that made the character never quite make sense. Hold on to your butts for a moment, because I’m about to get all dramaturgical up in here: Javert and Jean Valjean are doppelganger characters. Both are men who believe 100% in doing the right thing, but their versions of this are completely opposed; Valjean believes in doing good for others, no matter how that is best achieved (breaking parole), Javert believes in following and maintaining the law. Thus, when they have their final confrontation and Javert realizes that Valjean might be a good man AND a criminal, two things that are mutually exclusive in his head, he has to choose whether to change his entire worldview (as Valjean did after being given the candlesticks, singing THE SAME MUSICAL PHRASE OH MY GOD THIS SHOW IS SO SMART), or end the life that has now proven false. He cannot change, so he dies. But without a rigid Javert to contrast with fluid Valjean, and without confrontations that make you realize their similarities, you lose a big part of the piece. And I hated Javert walking on the edge; he’s the opposite of a daredevil, he follows rules obsessively.

-Yay Colm Wilkinson! I loved that he came back at the end for Valjean, too – it’s always struck me as strange that a character who has such a huge effect on Valjean is never seen again. And I’m so glad they didn’t have Eponine come back with Fantine for Valjean – as previously discussed on this here blog, I always thought that was weird.

-I did sort of miss the candlestick moment that the show has, in which Valjean takes the candlesticks out at the end and you realize for the first time that he’s kept them all along. The movie does a nice job of tracking the candlesticks, though, and I guess it’s harder to reveal stuff like that in a movie, when he has to be somewhere that makes sense in the last scene and not just in ‘undefined theater space’. But why was the Bishop in black? That seemed sort of morbid.

-Since I’m on a Bishop kick, I thought it was super interesting that they changed the Bishop’s lyric “I have bought your soul for God” to “I have saved your soul for God”. I would love to know why – did ‘bought’ seem a little mercenary? I always liked the idea that he’s talking to this rough convict in his own language – not, you are now saved, but, now you owe me. But saved works too.

-Okay, let’s talk about that poop. My sister, who saw the movie before me, said there was a lot of poop post-sewers. But then in the movie, OH MY GOD I HAD NO IDEA, THERE WAS SO MUCH POOP!!! My sister leaned over to me and whispered “it’s like he’s in poop blackface!!” which pretty much made me miss the rest of the scene in a fit of snorting giggles. But she was right – all you can see is the whites of Valjean’s eyes! Wouldn’t Valjean just wipe his face off? Nobody is so virtuous not to be like, hold on a second, I just have to get this HUMAN FECES OFF MY FACE. I mean, even Javert I’m sure would have been like, dude, I’ll just wait here for a minute, you do you, that is gross. And did they have crew members with buckets off camera? Was it a hose? Realistically, how would Marius ever have survived getting THE WASTE OF MULTIPLE PEOPLE in an open wound? That’s sepsis for sure.

-Wow, that was some sound that Javert made when he hit the water. I got a little distracted wondering what the foley editors used – corncob broken in half by hitting it with a steak? Stomp on skin bag full of cornflakes? Hammer onto a full chicken? It was like a real meaty crunch.

-In ancient Greece, when they performed tragic plays, they would put shorter funny plays in between to balance out all the sad, and probably to make everyone not want to kill themselves immediately (because oh my god, can you imagine a day of all Greek tragedies?!) Anyhoo, this proves the vital concept that tragedy is best when balanced by comedy. That’s what ‘Master of the House’ is really there for – a fantastic number of some comic relief in an otherwise glum show. But oh man, one thing the movie ‘Master of the House’ definitely isn’t is fun. Yikes! I was actually hoping we could go back to watching some poor people starve for a while. And without a little levity break, it’s a long glum story indeed. And how could they not have a big fun number on that cool set? That was a bummer.

-How incredibly adorable was it that Marius got truly flustered on “I’m doing everything all wrong?” I ‘awwed’ audibly.

-All the prizes for Grantaire!! How great was that guy? For the first time Grantaire felt like a major part of the story, and they even cut his big song! George Blagden, you are a star.

-Also all the prizes for the army guy who sings “you at the barricade listen to this” etc. You could see and hear his hope that they would surrender and not make him have to kill anyone, and that was a beautiful and unexpected addition. I think that was Hadley Fraser, who apparently has played many roles in Les Mis over the years, so he was probably like “bitches please, I could do this whole movie as a one man show.” And I would watch that show.

-Also all the prizes for Gavroche, who was awesome and could also probably do the entire movie as a one man show. It did bother me a lot, though, that they changed one detail in his getting the ammo from the other side of the barricade; in the show, Gavroche is increasingly scared in this moment, which is heartbreaking (in the movie he’s more brave the whole time), but, more importantly, he throws the ammo over the barricade before getting shot – he’s actually doing a vitally important thing for the uprising. In the movie, he doesn’t get the ammo to them, and then someone comes out and gets him, which made the whole thing seem less important; I feel like it’s really important that Gavroche dies helping the cause in a way only he could, not by failing at his attempted task.

-I loved Javert giving the medal to Gavroche, though. A lovely touch: Javert doesn’t like lawbreakers but he’s not a monster.

-The other change that I missed was having Eponine deliver the letter to Valjean, then get shot rejoining Marius on the barricade. I guess it tightens it up the movie way (although my sister pointed out that there’s a little weirdness in that it looks like she gives Marius the letter after ‘On My Own’, which makes him run to the house, but then gives it to him again on the barricade), but I miss having her try to complete her task for him then be unable to stand. Also, I always want people to do that scene like Lea Salonga does in the anniversary concert – she gasps with pain at one point, which causes Marius to truly have to comfort her with “hush now, dear Eponine”, and over the course of the rest of the song gradually weakens, until by the end she can’t finish the phrase and dies. It’s incredibly moving, and you are always aware of her fading, but I feel like the movie kept Eponine pretty robust until she died. It’s just not as great that way, methinks.

-Okay, another little nitpicky thing, courtesy of my sister, who apparently is even more plot-detail-tracking than I am. What are these empty chairs and empty tables that Marius is singing about? Because I’m pretty sure we saw all the furniture around being thrown onto the barricade. Did they just put some stuff back after they picked off the dead bodies?

-Fantine doesn’t get her hair back in the afterlife? Come on now, heaven, that was some great hair. I hope at least she gets her tooth.

-You know what would really suck? To die in a failed uprising and then have the afterlife be A GIANT PERPETUAL BARRICADE. Don’t you think that all those guys would be like, oh great! You know that thing that we did that totally didn’t work and then we all died? We get to relive this forever, yippee. This’ll be super fun.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John Duet, And They Think You Might Like It.

5 Dec

It’s getting to be the Christmas season, and lucky for us we have our first bizarro pop-culture gift. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (hey, I just realized they could be Brangelinad as ‘Olivia Newton John Travolta’!) have released a Christmas album together, as far as I know their first collaboration since Grease. And with it comes a video. A video so mystifying it looks like it was a collaboration between David Lynch and the Lifetime network. A video that you, you luck folks, are about to watch. And of course, I have many thoughts on this here video, which I share below. So strap on your seatbelts and clutch your completely heterosexual wallet chains, ’cause here we go!

-I would like to point out that youtube is showing this video with an ad for absolute vodka below it. It knows what you’ll need shortly.

-What is that font? Oh no, you guys. No. Already this is no good – the beginning of this video looks like it was made for a Midwestern 50th anniversary party. Remember when Frank and Mitzie went on that plane that one time? That was so romantic.

-Hey, there’s a car! Nice car. But where are we? And why can’t the camera stop wiggling when it’s staying in one place on solid ground? It looks like it’s thinking about making a break for it. I can’t blame it.

-John and Olivia! Doin’ a little two-step. Remember that two step – you’ll see it about fifty more times.

-Now we’re seeing John through a brown window. Is he in the car from before? What is he smiling at? And most importantly, was that suspiciously plush hairline painted on, or rolled out like astroturf on his head?

-Oh, he’s in a plane!! God I hope the pilots of planes that I’m in aren’t laughing at nobody and singing vaguely country Christmas tunes.

-Although it does really amuse me to think of a cameraman strapped to the outside of the cockpit window completely petrified.

-Okay, so Travolta’s in a plane flying into his hometown, and Olivia Newton-John is in a car driving somewhere, with presents stacked up next to her that will clearly fly away at any moment. Convertibles aren’t so cool if you have to drive them at 5 MPH to prevent present carnage.

-Did anyone think about the fact that it might not be a great idea to have a shot of Olivia Newton-John riding in a car whose license plate says ‘Antique’? Worst. Vanity Plate. Ever.

Check out that plate!
Check out that plate!


-Why is Olivia Newton John waving?! She’s singing about smiling at people on her street, but we just saw that there’s nobody there, besides the camera rig we just saw reflected in the side mirror. Between JT laughing at his invisible co-pilot and ONJ waving at nothing, these two really are meant for each other.

-Wait, they’re in the car together, then he’s getting out of the plane, and they’ve been dancing together this whole time? Is this video like Memento?!? And WHERE ARE THEY?!!?

-Okay, now Kelly Preston is coming into the airport. Intrigue!! Does she know that her husband is two-stepping with ONJ in some ill-defined alternate plane of existence?

-The whole family seems to be gathering, while TJ and ONJ are singin’ it up in a car. Are they driving to the airport to be discovered by the family? This is about to become the world’s most awkward lifetime movie ever – I’ve got chills, they’re multiplyin’.

-But hey, wait, if they’re driving to the airport, how did John Travolta get out of a plane somewhere else? Was that just someone’s lawn? Is this the better, nicer airport, more appropriate for things like banquets and family reunions?

-Hey! Soldiers!! That’s… totally random?

-Aww, one of the soldiers isn’t a member of this enormous family group. Good thing there’s a sinister-looking cop to welcome him with open arms. I’m starting to think this whole thing is a metaphor. Or maybe everyone’s already dead? Is that the secret? Is there a secret escape hatch? If so, can I use it to get out of this video?

-TJ and ONJ are now dressed in matching outfits and watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Presumably while the whole family is still busy hugging each other and the armed forces at Limbo Airport.

-Is the ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ reference some kind of clue? Maybe JT and ONJ canoodling is what would have happened if Kelly Preston had never been born? Or this whole video exists to make you wish that you, the viewer, had never been born?

-By the way, video, if you show people doing a two-step for three solid minutes, it’s no longer a two-step. At this point it’s more like a 2,632 step. My kingdom for a time step or grapevine.

-“AND THEN WE’RE GOING TO HIDE AWAY MAKING LOVE ALL NIGHT?!?!” Seriously, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, what is going ON in this video?!!? You’re telling each other you’ll “do a little dance for you, I think you’ll like it,” your whole families are meeting at an airport, and you’re watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and then driving away to bang all night? You are getting lumps of coal in your stockings, you two.

-John Travolta just said “and I like it” in a way that I think he thinks is sexy but really makes me want to take a Silkwood shower. It also isn’t helped by the fact that it’s so badly lip-synched. It’s like even his voice is running away from having to say it.

-Sure, just drive away laughing, you two, while your families are forced to dance in an empty airport somewhere.

-You know what? I’m just going to go ahead and blame Scientology for this whole thing.

I Have Strong Feelings About ‘Cloud Atlas’

28 Oct

I have been talking a lot about ‘Cloud Atlas’ lately. The big new movie, by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, just came out, and there has been a lot of discussion about it, it’s multi-tasking multi-star cast, it’s muti-story structure, it’s meaning. And I’ve been trying to explain to people what I think about the movie, which is very much related to what I think about the book. But usually this involves me attempting to explain, then descending into a sort of quasi-meaningful babble and saying “I just… I just” a lot. So I thought I would come on here to see if I could articulate some of my scattered thoughts. And just a warning, some of these thoughts will probably be full of cheesiness.

First of all, let me start with the book, which I read a few years ago and fell madly in love with. By David Mitchell, who is a genius, it’s a sort of literary palindrome of a book; six different stories unfold so that the first is the last and the one in the center is the only one that doesn’t repeat, if that makes sense. All the stories are set in a different time period and, to an extent, genre (there’s a futuristic science fiction story, one that’s journal entries from a ship in the 1840s, one that’s a 1970s mystery), and they weave together in subtle, beautiful ways, both with plot and thematic elements.

I’m not going to tell you more about how it actually works – you could never hope to capture it by summarizing it. Because the magic of what ‘Cloud Atlas’ does, what makes me obsessed with it in a way that lead me to consider buying a box of books so I could hand them out to people when I recommended it (kiboshed when I realized this would make me only a few steps away from the subway Scientologists), is not something you can easily explain, hence my starry-eyed jabberings about it in person.

I am not a religious person. I am probably best described as a yoga-class-Agnostic, casually spiritual but not in any well-defined way. However, what I do know is that I find the greatest moments of connection to my world, and to the humans around me and our singular history and hope, in art. Reading ‘Cloud Atlas’ for the first time was one of the most potent moments of this. The book, with its expansive stories and scope, its connections between its protagonists and the people around them, made me feel my place in the universe. Like all great teachers, it doesn’t hit you over the head with this, it merely gives you the pieces that allow you to find it for yourself. And when I read it, through the doorway of ‘Cloud Atlas’, I felt like I could see how I relate to history, how human beings connect to each other, and the great beauty that comes in everyday human living. It made me weep. It still does, every time I read it, which is a few times now.

So I was nervous at the thought of a movie version, just because, how could it possible capture what is so subtle, so ineffable, about the book? But when I heard that the filmmakers were going to cast actors to play multiple roles throughout the stories, I stopped worrying. If they were doing that, I thought, they understood something deep and fundamental about the book, about the idea of the connection that runs through the stories. They got it.

And luckily, I was right: they totally did get it. I saw the film on Friday, and the best compliment I can give is that when it was over I was sitting in my seat weeping, needing a few minutes just to process and get myself together, just as I do every time I read the book. The cast is wonderful, the cross-casting totally works, and the cuts and changes merely make the essential stories more cinematic (many of them I didn’t even notice). And, like with the book, I feel like I’ll need a few viewings to catch all the references and connections, and their implications. I cannot speak for someone who sees the movie not having already read the book, but as someone who has read the book, and loves it, the movie captures the epic breadth of the book. It captures the awesome (and I mean awesome in the true sense of the word, not in the Spicoli vernacular in which I usually use it) sense of being a part of something beautiful and bigger. It is, in brief, great.

So, I think you should see it. I’m not guaranteeing that you will like it as much as I did, but oh, if you do, what joy lies in store for you. And I definitely think you should read it, probably multiple times. And if you ever want to write essays in your head about ‘Cloud Atlas’ while you’re on the subway, know that there’s someone out there who understands.



Also, I’m seriously considering getting a little comet tattoo.



Wow, that recent revival of ‘South Pacific’ was a lot stranger than I remembered.

11 Jul


Okay fine, that’s actually the Weather Girls. But wouldn’t you pay good money to see Kelli O’Hara and Laura Osnes killin’ it as a duet? In those outfits? And hey, the male chorus of ‘Anything Goes’ is available now, just hem up those pants to groin-level and we’re good to go.

That’s me, always thinkin’.