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Showing posts with label Sonmi-451. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sonmi-451. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Elixirs of youth, utilitarianism, and Sonmi-451

This is a partly completed review of Jupiter Ascending (2015)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

This is a partly completed review – it will certainly spill over into another posting – of Jupiter Ascending (2015)

5 February

Someone (whose Tweet cannot now be located) was replying to an invitation from BBC’s Film 2015 (@BBCFilm2015) for comment, and described Jupiter Ascending (2015) as ‘baffling’ and / or ‘confusing’ (in such a way that made clear that this / these description(s) was / were not commendations) :

Well, if one watches a film such as Father and Son (2003), and expects it all to be explained and tied up by the end, then that ‘just ain’t life’, so Screen 3 at The Arts Picturehouse (@CamPicturehouse) this afternoon at 4.30 would have been the wrong place to be (if one thinks that this film (or, say, Caché (Hidden) (2005)) should not baffle or confuse, even though life can and does)…

Before Jupiter Ascending (#JupiterAscending), Cloud Atlas (2012) was a long, hard look at repeating patterns, and the related potential for our kindnesses and cruelties to reverberate beyond our own time. (Although that is also, in The Matrix Revolutions (2003), the explicit message at the end of the trilogy – even if some resent even the existence of the two companion films to The Matrix (1999).)

Almost necessarily, Jupiter Ascending (2015) does not seek to cover that ground again, but trust, deceit and betrayal, and the nature of reality, have been integral parts of The Wachowskis’ screen-worlds since The Matrix, and they are here, too. We may tend to call what used to be ‘personnel’ by the name HR. If so, we overlook what these film-makers keep returning to, the behaviour (and morals) of those who see their fellow human-beings as ‘resources’ (thus, the earlier film has Jim Broadbent (as Timothy Cavendish) exploited by his family, and David Gyasi (Autua, a free man in slavery))…

Yes, The Wachowskis have 'delivered an action film', but what and where is the action, and what levels of reality (mirrored by different grading of CGI versus live action) are we meant to perceive ? :

That said, the amount of undiluted action is far greater, and it as though the proportion of threat, pursuit, and rescue in the time-period of Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) and Chang (Jim Sturgess) had expanded proportionally to fill out the rest of Cloud Atlas. One will have to come to the action (and the nature of what action depicts / denotes on a cinema screen) at a later date, but it is not as if Lana and Andy Wachowski, always wearing their cine-literacy easily, have deprived those less keen on it of plenty of other insights.

Some key references (not exclusively to this one film of theirs) are :

* Metropolis (1927)

* Carry on Cleo (1964)

* Brazil (1985)*

* Akira (1988)

* Looper (2012) (mixed with that scene from North by Northwest (1959))

* Platonic Ideals / ‘The Theory of Forms’ / οὐσία (or ‘ousia’)

* Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) / The Makropulos Case (Leoš Janáček (based on Karel Čapek’s play)) / Bernard Williams’ essay of that name**

* Free will v. determinism / the craze for 'genetic screening'

* Etc., etc. – and one should not doubt, when The Matrix (1999) alluded to Lewis Carroll and The Wizard of Oz (1939), amongst others – that these references are any more than coincidental !

So what, also, about these possibilities (arising from that Film 2015 questioning / Tweeting) ? :

As to the film more than twenty-four hours later, it is still a fertile ground for reflection, because its makers’ knowingness should never be taken for granted.

Then again, one does not please everyone... :

More to come, but, for those who like spoilers, here are some Tweets in the meantime…


* With even a little cameo from its own Terry Gilliam, an influence to which The Double (2013) also nods*, with what it has become fashionable to call its steam-punk feel. [Also in Paddington (2014), though perhaps distilled through Gringotts Bank in the Harry Potter films (numbers 1 and 7 ?).]

** Williams, Provost of King's College, Cambridge, was also rather fond of opera...

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

In the clouds

This is a review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

14 April 2013

This is a review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

* Spoiler warning : assumes a knowledge of the film, so best not read without one *

Follows on from A cloudy prospect

As a re-viewing reminded me, there are even clouds in Warner Bros' corporate title, and there are probably many more than the other ones that I did spot, which include the striking ones reflected in water (impossibly and Dalíesquely) on the beach when Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) fatefully first meets Dr Henry Goose (Tom Hanks)

Clouds are transient things, a fact that Hamlet exploits (and even artist Alexander Cozens in his illustrated treatise, A New Method of Landscape), but I do not yet know what role they play in David Mitchell's novel, on which this film is based.

Yet there are, just as clouds pass overhead, communications between :

1849 and 1936 - Adam Ewing's journal (read by Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw)), plus the effects on history of Tilda's (Doona Bae's) and his joining the abolitionists

1936 and 1973 - Robert Frobisher's compositions (heard by Luisa Rey (Halle Berry)), and letters to Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy) (read by Luisa Ray, and passed to the mother of Megan), and it is through Sixsmith that Rey becomes aware of the report on the Hydra reactor at Swannekke, plus the effect of her exposing the attempt to discredit that form of power by allowing a nuclear catastrophe

1973 and 2012 - What Isaac Sachs (Tom Hanks) was writing on the plane could not physically have survived its being blown-up, but his words seem to resonate; in 1973, Luisa Rey was friends with Javier Gomez (Brody Nicholas Lee), and, in 2012, Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) is reading Gomez' script, heading north on the train; later, Cavendish writes of his experiences at Acacia House, and a film is made at some point (Tom Hanks)

2012 and 2144 - Yoona-939 (Xun Zhou) shows Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) a device on which a short segment of the film based on Cavendish's writing is looping; a recording of Sonmi's broadcast, and the account that she gives in captivity (taken by James D'Arcy), form part of the archive on her

2144 and 2321 - A venerated form of some of Sonmi's words is kept sacred by the Abbess (Susan Sarandon), and read to Zachry (Tom Hanks) when he consults her, and Sonmi's image is represented both in the valleys, and on Mount Seoul

In short, a series of nested what ifs

I touched previously on what significance 'the doubling' of parts might have : in fact, if IMDb is to be trusted*, six actors play a part in all six time-strands, although those of Hugh Grant, though instrumental, are minor ones (and some of those played by, say, Doona Bae, are far less significant than that of Sonmi-451), which is surely no accident.

To be continued


* Since, as seems accurate, Jim Broadbent is not credited in that from 1973.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A cloudy prospect

This is a review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

31 March

This is a review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

In his review of Cloud Atlas (2012), Philip French – not at all showing off – seems to give every example that he can think of in films where actors play more than one role. (Thankfully, he did not trouble us with Alec Guinness’ eightfold cameos as members of the d’Ascoyne family.) To French, that historical view may be important, but I agree with the person (was it he ?) who said that one might be too bothered working out which actor / actress is on screen to pay attention to other things.

For me, trying to think of Hugo Weaving’s name (by reminding myself of The Matrix (1999) and its Agent Smith) was not too much for my poor little brain (not, that is, in the way that some of the intense stretches of action were, acting as some sort of overload). Having thought of some counter-examples, I cannot think that the following Tweet is correct in alleging a significance, other than damn’ good fun on the part of cast and crew (Weaving as a nurse to put Ratched in the shade ! ), in these multiple roles (which is properly the stuff of The Hours (2002)) :

As far as I am concerned, the territory that the futuristic parts of the film occupies is that before the time of the trilogy that began with The Matrix, and whose antecedents were ‘filled’ in by the collection of short works that make up The Animatrix (2003). It may be that, with his novel Cloud Atlas (published in 2004), David Mitchell was aware of this material, and has an interest in the ethics, possibilities and implications of AI (Artificial Intelligence) – I almost cannot believe otherwise, rather than that it is a layering on the book from the Wachowskis, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Tom Tykwer (who was also one of its three composers).

We are shown an agent from Union (Hae-Joo Chang, played by Jim Sturgess) who is seeking to recruit Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae), very much in the same way that Trinity recruits Neo in The Matrix and introduces him to Morpheus : the aim in both cases is to tell the truth about the situation that fellow ‘fabricants’ and humans, respectively, are in, when they are deluded as to the reality of their existence and purpose.

Neo, before he is ‘awoken’, is in one small pod of a huge human power-source for the machine world, but, believing otherwise because of the stimuli provided to his inert, supine body (which generate the matrix in which he seems to be alive), has to be shown the truth, which shocks him. Even more shocking, in a way, is for him to be told that he is the chosen one, just as Sonmi-451 is. In her case, the lies that fabricants such as she have been told, when unmasked, cause her to engage with Union’s cause and to seek to broadcast the truth. (One is almost reminded of the closing scene of The Matrix, where Neo is making the sort of ‘wake-up call’ that was made to him by Trinity at the other end of the film.)

In another era, that of the continuing slave trade in the States, Doona Bae is Adam Ewing’s (Sturgess’) wife Tilda, to whom he returns from the colonies a changed man because of having his life saved by Autua (David Gyasi), a black slave who had stowed away : we do not learn more of it, but Adam and Tilda intend to head eastwards to campaign for the abolition of slavery. Is the multiple-character aspect significant here ? Well, yes, Bae plays both Tilda and Sonmi-451, but, in the former role and in those times, she would probably have been no more visible as a force for change than as Adam’s supporter.

There is thus a link between the mid-nineteenth century and the mid-twenty-first century in terms of seeking freedom and helping others in that search. Dr Henry Goose (Tom Hanks) would have prevented the latter, but, as Zachry, he helps, rather than hinders, escaping a stricken place, so it would appear that any pattern is not one of direct correspondence, and, if not dictated by logistics, may be little more than fortuitous.

Continued as In the clouds