Cloud Atlas

“Cloud Atlas” is just a big ol’ mess. Its parts are good, but the whole is bad.

If you believe in reincarnation, you might love “Cloud Atlas.” For the rest of us, it’s a movie with cool things and interesting people to look at, but the assembled product lacks real continuity.

The film attempts to tell six stories: some from the past, some from the future. Actors play different roles at various points on the timeline and the audience is expected to connect the dots. Honestly, it’s not worth it.

Last year, we had the polarizing “The Tree of Life,” a movie with interesting parts and incredible images, but, as a whole, was a real head scratcher. It was loved by some, hated by many (including many theater walk-outs).

In 2012, we have “Cloud Atlas.” You can go online now and see numerous blurbs touting this movie’s greatness. I beg to differ.

The star power here is strong: Tom Hanks, Hallie Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, among others. It’s slightly interesting to see these folks play multiple roles, although some of the make-up is laughable. (The facial prosthetics used to make Hugh Grant look like a 70-something are embarrassingly ridiculous.)

The film, directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings who brought us the “Matrix” movies, also features Hugo Weaving in multiple roles—none of which are as memorable as his Agent Smith in the “Matrix” trilogy.

“Cloud Atlas” is like a stew containing several of your favorite food items that just don’t work well together in the same pot. It’s big (nearly three hours long), it’s ambitious, but ultimately unsatisfying.

“The Iron Lady”—{Meryl Does Maggie}

“The Iron Lady” asks one big question: Will Meryl Streep win yet another Best Actress Oscar?

She will receive a nomination, without a doubt, for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Meryl is amazing, but this performance has a “been there, done that” feeling to it. Meryl gets a makeover (including some perfect stunt teeth), nails the accent and brings her normal spectacular work. (There are other actresses, though, whose 2011 performances are, in my mind, more Oscar-worthy.)

The movie has a familiar structure. We see an aged, shuffling Maggie Thatcher, who has delusions that her late husband (played by Jim Broadbent) is still with her. Flashbacks take us through the major moments of her life and career.

Unlike “The Queen” and “The King’s Speech,” which keyed on one major crisis in the title character’s life, “The Iron Lady,” takes us through several crises faced during her time as British Prime Minister. Also, those other two movies (which led to Oscars for lead actors) dealt with royals, whereas “Iron Lady” is the story of an elected official. Still, the British thing lends a certain quality that enchants Oscar voters. So don’t count Meryl out.

Margaret Thatcher was a great ally for the US during her eleven years as PM. She certainly broke down gender barriers and provided decisive leadership during a critical time in world history. But—is her biopic a “must see?” Not really.

If you are a Meryl Streep fan, you will want to see this film and you will admire her work in it. If you are a movie fan who likes to check out all the Oscar nominees, get there. Otherwise, I have difficulty finding a compelling reason to suggest you see “The Iron Lady.”