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"CLOUD ATLAS" (R)
TOM HANKS, HALLE BERRY, JIM BROADBENT, JIM STURGESS, HUGH GRANT
While it's a big mess--too many characters in too many stories linked by trippy reincarnation babble--it's a cool collection.
With a great cast, rich settings, impressive effects and some tales that are fascinating to follow, this film works best if you don't over-think it. Just sit back and watch it all wash by.
If you try to make it make sense, or even to figure out the connections among more than a dozen stories and settings, you'll go bonkers.
It's especially bothersome at the start, when you figure out that you're not going to see Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and others in just one role, but a half-dozen roles, each with a different tale to tell in a different time surrounded by different characters.
The viewer gets little five-minute snippets of one story before being thrown into another, and another, and another.
So forget all the reincarnation babble and just enjoy the snippets as mini-movies, each eventually being completed but never really linked to others in any meaningful way.
Especially good are Hanks, Jim Broadbent and Berry, the latter sometimes overlooked as an actress at the top of her game. A bit of a shock: Hanks' portrayal of a very profane, street-fighting sort of writer.
For some reason, the stories in the past resonate better than the ones in the future. Especially drab is one that's a mix of "Soylent Green" and "The Matrix."
Although the movie takes nearly three hours to tell its tales, it moves so well that it doesn't feel overdone.
Without that length, they never could have included all these different narratives in what, for better and worse, is one whale of a tale.
Rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity, drug use. 172 min. [PV]
"THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER" (PG-13)
LOGAN LERMAN, EMMA WATSON, EZRA MILLER, MAE WHITMAN, PAUL RUDD
Emma Watson is sweetly compelling in this coming-of-age tale about a high school freshmen named Charlie who struggles to deal with his outsider status and a tragedy not fully revealed until the film's end.