Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

Cloud Atlas (2012)

People don’t tend to like it much when you wear your heart on your sleeve. This isn’t universally true, but seems to be a relatively persistent trend in modern culture. Pessimism is easier than optimism, and there’s something admittedly thrilling about a blasé cynic, which for me explains the tepid response to Cloud Atlas, an epic adaptation with three directors and a hearty interest in the workings of the heart. That’s not to say there aren’t valid criticisms to be made about Cloud Atlas, or that the general ambivalence around the film is coming exclusively from the heartless. But there’s a common refrain in these assessments—“It just didn’t work for me.”—that reveals a structural weakness: intellectual critiques of sentiment are inherently weak, because sentiment is not an intellectual mechanism. Whether or not you respond to it isn’t a a matter of what you think, but what you truly feel, and post-Cloud Atlas, I felt a great deal.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

There should be a list somewhere of books that should never be adapted to film. While plenty of literature can make the leap from page to screen without much or any alteration, far more often a book is a book for a reason. Because while a book allows you to reach an emotional conclusion on your own, a movie forces you towards one. Which is unquestionably the case with Jonathan Safran Foer‘s 2005 novel; a narrative that, at a glance, is vibrant in the same way as a Little Miss Sunshine, with a host of quirky characters and a comical, yet emotionally-resonant tone. In a host of other ways however, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a story far more inclined towards the written word than the big screen, and has pulled an Oscar nomination mostly on the weight of its dramatically moving and frustratingly manipulative approach.

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Toy Story (1995)

It’s ironic how entirely nostalgic it is viewing Toy Story for the first time in a decade.  Though I suppose that nostalgia shouldn’t surprise me, as nearly any Disney title awakens vivid memories of childhood and the wonder of animated cinema.  Obviously the world of Disney pre-Pixar is iconic, particularly for those of us lucky enough to grow up during their late 80s/early 90s renaissance.  My particular favorite was Aladdin, but I’ve never been picky, and would gladly sit through a viewing of The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. Heck, I’d even watch Pocahontas. Still, while Disney’s astounding talent for inserting themselves into childhood is something I’m grateful for, it’s only part of what makes my adult viewing of Toy Story ironic.  The more relevant aspect of that irony is the reality that Toy Story is a movie about nostalgia.  Or at the very least it’s a movie that recognizes the heft of it.  Memories of childhood are either beautiful or awful, and rarely of the mundane; what trauma or drama is there in the tedium of childhood?  Though we catch only glimpses of the story from adolescent Andy’s perspective, the one requirement for enjoying this film is to have been that age, and to have loved those toys.  Perhaps one of Disney’s, Pixar’s and director John Lasseter‘s most charming notions is imagining that those toys could love you back.

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