We saw Cloud Atlas in the theater last night. It's magical, and if it's in your budget to do so, you should try to see it in the theater. If you haven't heard about it, it's a film by the Wachowski siblings (of The Matrix fame) and Tom Tykwer (who directed the beautiful Run Lola Run some time ago). Apparently, the novel behind the film was thought unfilmable, and this is a masterpiece of adaptation; I have not read it although now I want to. It features the same actors in different roles in six stories set in disparate eras. But this is much grander than other films with that same conceit, like Babel and Crash.
For here is a paean to human liberation, a clarion call for all those than yearn for freedom to and freedom from. Perhaps the strongest narrative is that of the two young men in 1930s England, so desperately in love and so tragically separated both by their forbidden affection and by economic uncertainty. The future-that-seems-like-the-past tale of the peaceful crocheting herdsman on a cliff is the tale that haunted me through the night and into this morning, the images of a future that is both magnificent and free and terrifying and doomed. And the story of Neo Seoul, with lots of whiz-bang technology and the accompanying horrific exploitation and underground, appealed to my science-fiction loving and anarchism-following sides like none other. This section, by the way, is probably the closest in theme and vision to The Matrix, if you liked that kind of thing. I thought the whole film was a refutation of its oft-repeated soundbyte "The strong eat; the weak are meat;" it inspires constant resistance to the ethos of competition and repression.
Unfortunate details about the film include the fact that, as magnificent and liberation-minded as this film is, it still barely passes the Bechdel test (two women talking to each other about something other than romance with men for 30 seconds or more). The two women actors, and the numerous gender-crossing performances, represent strong female and genderqueer characters, but this is mostly still a film about men (sorry, Lana). And I'm not sure the story about the young American man appalled by slavery in 19th century America worked, quite.
But still. Watching this film was exactly the opposite experience of watching The Dark Knight; like that movie, I went into this with high hopes for a good story, a liberating message, and ground-breaking visual magnificence. This time I was not disappointed. You probably won't be, either.
And not just every movie lists its knitters and crocheters in the credits. I'm calmed and delighted to see how significant crochet will be in the far distant future. Textile artists everywhere can get excited now!