TRAILER THUNDERDOME: “Cloud Atlas” Vs “The Master”

For this edition of Trailer Thunderdome, we are not fucking around!
In one corner, the newly re-dubbed Wachowski siblings (Along with Tom Tykwer.) take on some crazy ass storytelling challenges. In the other, Paul Thomas Anderson explores religion while trying to bring Joaquin Phoenix’s career back from the dead.

A few years ago, The Wachowski’s made “Speed Racer” which crashed and burned at the box office. (Undeservedly so.  It’s a terrific, old-fashioned, family film that just happened to be stylistically amped up to 11.) And how do they respond  to that setback?
By making a huge multi dimensional, time bending movie that seems to cram six films into one giant sausage casing of awesome.  As if to say, “You had trouble with our last film because of all the shiny colors?  Try this one on for size, bitches!”
Somewhere, Papa Coppola is smiling and saying “Well done, my young grasshoppers.  Well done.”
I have not read David Mitchell’s novel. (Although it’s on my to Goodreads to-read list now.) (And by the way, my book “Tales of the Geek Nation” on sale at Barnes and Noble for $1.99  now has it’s own page at Goodreads. Check it out. End of shameless plug.) But from the synopsis, it sounds like the sort of multi-layered narrative that would send lesser filmmakers screaming for the exits. So I have to applaud the Wachowski’s and Tykwer for diving in where angles fear to tread.
And I have to say, the trailer looks great. The visuals are stunning. From the snippets of voiceover, it sounds like the writing will be lovely. (Jim Broadbent’s line “We cross and we cross our old tracks like figure skaters” may be the single best line I’ve heard all year.) And it looks like every actor involved bought their A-game to the set. (And I mean this in the least snarkiest way possible, Tom Hanks’ facial hair as the British Gangster alone may be the nerviest thing he’s done.  And I have a feeling that may be the least of the risks he’s taken for this film.)
My prediction. This thing will either kill the Wachowski’s career or kick it up to another level. There is no middle ground.
And judging by the filmmaker’s introduction to the trailer, they’re not only fine with that, they are giddy!

They know what they got!  And they are unafraid to set it loose!
Forget already being on line. I’m already buying the Blu-Ray and jonesing to hear the Dr. Cornel West/Ken Wilbur commentary track.

I’ve been hearing for ages that this film may be an attack on Scientology and I’m not convinced that it is.
I think Anderson may have been inspired by Scientology but is using their story to examine post war America and how people lived past the trauma of WWII and set out to recast the narratives of their lives. It certainly has resonance for right now as we struggle to rebuild from the Bush years and realize that many of our old systems of beliefs no longer work and we struggle to find new methodologies to solve our problems. And how that search can lead us down blind alleys.
And much like “There Will be Blood” buried its critique of capitalism under a thick layer of character study and first-rate filmmaking, I’m expecting that “The Master” will do the same for religion.
It helps that he’s got a killer cast.  Joaquin Phoenix has been has been out of the loop for so long, you find yourself wondering how much the desperation he going though is actually acting. (This may be a case where Anderson once again got lucky and caught an actor at exactly the right time.  Tom Cruise had spent months play Dr. Repressed Male for Stanley Kubrick on “Eyes Wide Shut”.  And by the time he got to the set of “Magnolia”, he had a raging case of Actors Blue Balls that could only be satisfied by playing a raging mad man like Frank T.J. MacKay. And “Magnolia” wound up being some of his best work ever.) Amy Adams looks like she’s game to use her forties girl next door look to devastatingly ironic effect.
And Philip Seymour Hoffman…sweet lord, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
How good does he look in this? Compare the above with this scene from his first collaboration with Anderson, “Boogie Nights”.

Yeah, try to keep those two performances in your head at the same time.  I double dog dare ya!
Again, in my mind, I’m buying the Blu-Ray.

And the winner of this edition of Trailer Thunderdome is….Neither…it’s a tie!
You know that moment in the last Matrix movie where Neo and Agent Smith hit each other in mid-air and cause that giant shockwave that displaces the rain water?
Yeah, that just happened here.
These two trailers are so strong, so confident about the movies they are featuring that to say one is better than the other is to diminish them both.  Let’s just congratulate them both as they both walk away from the dome, bloodied but unbowed.
Although, we should note that the “Man of Steel” teaser trailer is now in the corner, crying and rocking himself in misery.

EDIT: 8-1 Finished an unfinished sentence.


About theragingcelt

Actor/Writer/Homegrown Pundit/Cranky Progressive/Sometimes Filmmaker.
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