“America is just 5% of the globe’s population, but we have 25% of the world’s imprisoned people, and I tell you, that is not because Americans have a greater proclivity for criminality, it is because our legal system is not a justice system.”
— Thank you, Senator Booker. I’ve been saying this all along.*
Like, I wanna get fucked from behind against one of these machines in the back hallway of some shitty dive bar, and then right afterwards, yank one of those levers, tear open the pack with my teeth, and let him light my cigarette as I pull my underwear back on.
I’m in the mood to write a present-day sequel to Pulp Fiction centered around Butch and Fabienne’s nineteen year old daughter.
Her name would be Emmanuelle, and the main story would revolve around her cross-country revenge quest to retrieve her father’s gold watch after it is stolen off his arm the day he’s murdered during a robbery at his Big Kahuna franchise in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Jules, still on his righteous path to “walk the earth,” becomes Emmanuelle’s unlikely mentor as she learns about her father’s shady past, and her journey of self-discovery turns into a bloody rampage through the streets of Los Angeles when she figures out how Butch’s murder is linked to Marcellus Wallace’s crumbling criminal empire.
She eventually finds the watch (a potent symbol of the American Dream, each generation sacrificing to pass it on as a birthright.) Of course, she finds it damaged beyond repair and realizes that it’s just a useless hunk of metal she never even wanted in the first place.
It all works out in the end when Mia Wallace, now a powerful TV executive, offers Emmanuelle a role in the remake of Fox Force Five.
Oh, this movie. This beautiful, beautiful movie. It’s a shame that the word “breathtaking” has been so fucked out by hack movie critics, because it actually applies to Cloud Atlas. Sure, it was three hours long, and I probably shouldn’t have seen it for the first time stoned out of my gourd, but damn — this movie rocked my fucking world.
Structurally, Cloud Atlas is a challenge. There is no way to absorb everything in one viewing. The film’s layers aren’t just stacked on top of one another — they extend outward and through time in an exploding fractal of visual, textual, and cultural motifs. It’s fun when you catch one of the echoing references, but don’t get greedy and try to catch them all. You will only frustrate yourself. Just sit back, let it flow over you, and trust that more will be revealed when you see it again.
It’s not all work, though. Emotionally, Cloud Atlas is as easy as it gets. The narrative may be complicated, but it is still very traditional. People who compare this film to Malick’s Tree of Life are off the mark. Both films are deeply philosophical, but the Wachowskis aren’t writing a poem. They’re telling a story, and they’re damn good at telling stories. You may not know what to think at any given moment, but you’ll know exactly how to feel in every scene.
Intellectually, Cloud Atlas is a fucking masterpiece. Anyone who says otherwise is either incapable or unwilling to deconstruct a film with so many moving parts, the sum of which aren’t meant to be as great as the whole. If you didn’t enjoy it, that’s fine. If you didn’t connect with it, that’s fine too. You don’t have to love it, but you sure as hell have to respect it. It reaches further and achieves more than the very best films from any of the genres it encompasses.
If you haven’t already, go see it. If you have, by all means, go see it again.
I have to admit, I woke up this morning pretty fuckin’ excited about it. I might even be a little freaked out, but hey, that’s a good thing.
I know I’m supposed to tell you to go buy a copy, and yeah, that’s awesome if you do, but if you really wanna help me out, I’d like to send you on a larger mission that might turn out to be a lot of fun.
I want you to go to all of your local bookstores this week. Every last one of them. It doesn’t just have to be Barnes and Noble. It can be Urban Outfitters or motherfucking Walmart. (I ain’t gonna judge where you score your reading material.) Just get out there and look for copies of my book.
If a store doesn’t have any copies in stock, find a manager and tell them to order a case of that shit pronto. Put in a formal request. Pester them until they promise to put it on their shelves.
If they do have copies in stock, do me the massive favor of arranging them on the shelf so that the cover faces outward. (It sounds ridiculous, but that shit makes a huge difference.) If you’re feeling feisty, feel free to take a fresh stack and feature them on the most prominent table in the store.
Be sure and snap a picture of your bookstore handiwork, email it to me at email@example.com, and I promise I will find a way to thank you.
The half-life of whatever chemical was in those pills may require measurement in phases of the moon. Coming to grips with the quiet likelihood that I will never cease being this high.
Also, savoring the notion that at this very moment, millions of otherwise sane adults are getting dressed to go to church. It’s almost sad that they will never feel the kind of bliss that I’m feeling right now.