maegwynn and I saw Cloud Atlas on opening night. Six stories crosscut sometimes scene by scene and sometimes camera shot by camera shot, Cloud Atlas is a three-hour achievement of film that is gorgeous both visually and structurally: even if you choose to dismiss the film as a stunt or gimmick of interwoven narrative it's worth seeing the film only for how well they pull off the stunt. But you get six varied short stories of some great acting and stunning visuals. Strongly recommended, will see again.
(To the question "do you have to know the book to get the movie?" asked of adaptations, I read the book for the first time in the last month, maegwynn has never read it. She loved the movie and thought the pacing was good, wasn't bored for the almost-three-hour run time.)
Stay for the second part of the closing credits, where they get to the dozen-ish main actors and a video montage of their many performances throughout the movie. If you can spot all of them during the movie and nothing in this montage surprises you, you're amazing. However, there are no final surprises after the end of the closing credits.
I don't remember Timothy Cavendish yelling "Soylent Green is people" at the inhabitants of the prison-nursing home during his first escape attempt in the book, so I suspect it was added for reasons apparent to either reader or viewer.
The composer's daughter is entirely absent and I didn't see a real replacement explanation why Frobisher hung out at the top of that tower in the movie, other than it was really pretty.
Worth watching closely for the multiple interconnects: Jim Broadbent as Timothy Cavendish in 2012 talks about "when this episode in my life is filmed as "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" and who he, Cavendish, would like to play him, and the movie the future clone-foodserver Soon-Mi 451 in future dystopia Neu Seoul watches is the film The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, with Tom Hanks as Timothy Cavendish the multiply-fictionalized.
The kid in 1973 that the reporter hangs out with writes a detective novel about the reporter that is the manuscript Timothy Cavendish is reviewing as a candidate for publication in 2012.
The future Hawaii story worked better in the film for me than in the book. That's probably a personal issue, as dialect-solid narratives don't generally work well for me. (Riddley Walker, not really. Feersum Endjinn I never really clicked with. A Clockwork Orange and Womack's Dryco stories work just fine for me, though.
(Added because I forgot: Stephen Rea's "I had a moment" description of his vision in the Wachowskis' film _V For Vendetta_ is strongly reminiscent for me of the central theme of the Cloud Atlas film. Interestingly and divergently, a friend who's read the book said he views the novel as different narrative renditions of power structures, control, and peoples' responses.)
* The Collection Nov 30 - Remember The Collector, the stand-alone goreporn movie done by the Saw horror franchise people a couple of years ago? The movie I was disappointed was NOT a film version of the John Fowles novel? Based on the trailer this is a sequel/reboot/prequel to The Collector film, I'm not really sure, with the lone survivor/final girl motif from Saw II.
* The Impossible - Dramatized version of one family's struggle to survive and hopefully reunite after the tsunami hit their vacation spot a couple of years ago.
* Life of Pi.
* Les Miserables - The film of the musical. Because that worked so well for The Phantom of the Opera. Ahem. I'll probably see this. Never seen the musical.
* Zero Dark Thirty - Katheryn Bigelow, one of my favorite directors who I will watch everything by, on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. December.
* The Hobbit - An Unexpected...ending, for people who say "what? they're making THREE movies out of this book? What?" - Dec 14
* Gangster Squad - Sean Penn as gang lord Mickey Cohen in mid-twentieth century Los Angeles, and vigilante cops fighting an underground war. Yes, I'm there. January.