Lamar Giles
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Some Thoughts on Cloud Atlas

Cloud_Atlas_PosterFinally finished watching Cloud Atlas. I kind of loved it, mostly because I’m still thinking about it.

It almost demands a 2nd or 3rd viewing. Something I can’t say about any other film I’ve seen this year. I highly recommend the experience, though I can’t promise you’re going to enjoy it (it seems most people didn’t…on a 100 Million dollar budget, it made 27 Million in the U.S. according to IMDB). DO NOT try to watch it and multi-task; look away at the wrong point, and you’ll feel like someone changed the channel, Downton Abbey to Blade Runner, Pirates of the Caribbean to The Americans. Six (really seven) stories told across different times, with a core group of actors playing different versions of the same soul –sometimes in white and yellow face–is a tough pill. The makeup that facilitates these changes is hit or miss (the biggest misses being the racial shifts in the Neo Seoul and Cambridge segments), at times it’s enough to distract. But the beauty of home viewing is the ability to rewind and grab that crucial piece of dialogue you missed when you were thinking, “Halle Berry is one weird looking white lady.”


If you’ve got 3 hours you want to toss at a challenging film, then let this be the film. If your ideal cinematic experience involves shorter, lighter fare then avoid all six (or is it seven?) of these interconnected tales.

Fav Creepy Quote

“The weak are meat, and the strong will eat.”

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The Mockingbirds: A must read

When you’re an adult that enjoys YA a curious thing happens from time to time…you find that the reading is a bit like time traveling. Not so much in the time frames and settings that you read about, but in the emotions and memories. Quite often, I can read work by my peers and vividly recall the best and worst experiences of my high school days. I’m most attracted to books that lend to stronger recall. I want to read books about me.

Admittedly, I didn’t know if I’d get such an experience when I purchased The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

DISCLAIMER: Daisy is a friend. I will read and support her work no matter what. Not that she needed my help. The book had been building buzz for some time, and since its debut less than two months ago, has appeared on several ‘best of’ lists for 2010. The Mockingbirds did not require a charity read.

So I didn’t feel bad going into it with an I’ll-give-it-a-shot attitude. I know Daisy is good at what she does, and the whole “Secret Society doling out justice at a boarding school” angle sounded really cool. My apprehension came from the other part…

*(hardly a) Spoiler Alert*

…the date rape.

I never heard about that sort of thing when I was growing up. That didn’t happen where I was from. Was I going to get anything out of a book so far removed from what I knew about life as a teenager?

Silly, silly me.

Like I said, it’s all about the recall. The skilled writer can take a reader to a place of relevancy, a time when their experiences link to those of the character’s like adjoining puzzle pieces. And, I as I read about Alex, a girl who had too much to drink and was violated in the worst way, I recalled some things.

I recalled overheard conversations in the boys locker room that I wouldn’t repeat in polite company. I recalled once vibrant girls disappearing from the social landscape as if they never were. I recalled the meanness, the taking sides, the believing things that were wrong were really right because such notions were simply cooler.

I recalled that in my high school there was no real justice. Just endurance. A secret society of do-gooders would’ve been welcome.

The Mockingbirds is as good as (and possibly more important than) the hot dystopian thriller, or cute girly-girl dramedy. If this book can make me–a guy 15 years removed from his last day in a high school hallway–recall the hidden atrocities children endure, what can it do for those still in the midst of class changes and cafeteria drama?

Buy this book if you’re a teen. If you’re not a teen, buy 2 copies. One for yourself, and one for a teen you know.

Books like this have the ability to transcend from the “great story” category to “modern day parable”. They teach. And, once something is learned, it can’t be unlearned. The lesson here: Silence isn’t golden.

I wish I could recall learning it then instead of now.

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