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Archive for November 17th, 2012

By Bob Clark

By now, enough time has gone by for a reasonably definitive answer on the question of Cloud Atlas to develop. Weeks have gone by since its release into theaters and subsequent failure to find purchase amongst audiences who have since moved on to subsequent releases like the new Bond, Tolstoy or Lincoln pictures (curious to think of the Railsplitter as quite the same kind of cinematic trendsetter as spies or Russian romances, but he did just save the republic from vampires, don’t you know). Much was made of this high-profile experiment with multi-narrative, multi-genre and multi-director filmmaking, its subject matters far removed from the typical Hollywood blockbuster and its budget significantly higher than your average art-house fare. That the film has so-far performed so tepidly has suggested among many critics a disappointment with audiences as profound as those with any auteur, especially as the major studios and production houses gear up for an extended period of franchise nesting instincts, a cinematic hibernation that puts both filmgoer and filmmaker to sleep in the face of never-ending sequels, prequels and remakes to boot. At the same time, there’s been just as much skepticism towards the overall merit posed by this film, adapted from a headscratcher novel by a trio of directors whose career highpoints were at least ten years ago or more, and with it a kind of passive-aggressive hostility towards the perceived waste of such capital, creative and otherwise. Is it the fault of audiences for not braving theaters and seeking out something this ambitious and daring, or the filmmakers’ for risking it all on a mediocre product and thus making any future high-concept experiments all the riskier? Or is the assumption that for a high profile film to succeed that its success be as visible as its production– isn’t it possible a cult-hit was the best-case scenario for something like Cloud Atlas all along?

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