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TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 13, 2011
A summing up of all the aging, ailing Antonioni's career themes, His strengths (visual beauty, a sense of mystery and poetry) and weaknesses (pretentious stiff dialogue, ideas that are sometimes not really all that deep, a penchant for getting beautiful actresses undressed without a lot of justification...not that it isn't enjoyable...).

But this is also something quite different than he's ever done, in that these are a series of short stories, loosely tied together by sequences of John Malkovich playing a director looking for his next film (Wim Wenders helped the physically limited Antonioni by directing the Malkovich sections).

By keeping the pieces smaller, I found this more fun, and more moving than most of Antonioni's films. There isn't the chance for the ideas to run as thin, and there seems to be more empathy for his characters now. Humans may be screwed up, but Antonioni no longer stands above them judging. One moment actually brought me near tears.

The film captures the lonely enigmatic solitude of the artist, and of life itself.
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on January 7, 2003
Visually this film is very attractive, with beautiful shots of a lakeside village and very atmospheric shots of alleyways and streets in rain and mist. But when it comes to the actions and motivations of the people in the film I lost patience. I like to believe in and identify with the characters, and in this film I found that impossible. There are four stories and I will mention only two - the two that seems to me the most bizarre and pointless.
The first story stars two extremely good-looking newcomers to the screen (Rossi Stuart & Ines Sastre). He stops his car to ask her the way to the nearest hotel; and, presumably because he is so good-looking, she gives him the name of her hotel. They see each other during the day. and when they retire to their rooms at night across the landing from each other, she lies awake waiting for the knock on the door that never comes. In the morning she leaves early without seeing him. It is two years before they see each other again, and this time their relationship progresses a little further - they get to be naked on the bed together.
But he behaves in a very odd way indeed; for some five minutes he runs his hands over her body within a millimetre of her skin, but without actually touching her. What she thinks is going on as she lies there feeling nothing, is anybody's guess. Then, after five minutes, still without having touched her, he gets up abruptly and without speaking a word, leaves. I ask you; is that the action of a sane man? You wonder why he bothered to take his clothes off if he intended to do so little. She, presumably feeling hurt and frustrated, rushes to the window to see him walking off into the distance. They give each other a feeble wave. End of story. John Malkovich's deep, lugubrious voice-over tells us he behaved in this way either because of folly or pride. Well it was certainly folly and certainly unbelievable.
In the other story, Malkovich's character is attracted to a young woman (Sophia Marceau) he sees in a shop window. He can't take his eyes off her and just stands there entranced. She responds in the same way. He goes into the shop and their mutual and silent fascination continues. I felt uncomfortable for both of them. Was something momentous about to happen? It would seem so and our interest is awakened, our expectations aroused. But no, we are just being led up the garden path.
He sits outside and eventually she joins him. She tells him only one thing about herself; that she has murdered her father by stabbing him twelve times. Malkovich's character shows no surprise and the fact seems irrelevant. They then go to her place and they have sex. But this is not the beginning of some deep and meaningful relationship. Oh no. When he's had his sex he's had enough, and, like the previous male protagonist, he just walks away. Another wretched piece of behaviour and another let down. The point? I wish I new.
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on September 12, 2000
Here's another Antonioni masterpiece (assisted and with a few connecting scenes directed by Wim Wenders) that will be rediscovered again and again as soon as enough people see it on DVD. I saw it a few months ago when it ran for the first time (even in metropolitan movie capital L.A.!) for a couple of weeks and then disappeared (art house audiences seem to have opted for their own special territory, where older favorites like Antonioni and Resnais are only welcome as occasional curiosities).

At first I was disappointed, thought the pace unbearably boring (how can anyone sit through this thing more than once?), and that the man had lost a chance (for years Antonioni had found it difficult to find financing) at an advanced age to add another masterpiece to his canon. But, remembering how I had reacted negatively to "Blow-Up" and "The Passenger" and later completely reversed my opinion, I refused to pass judgment until I had seen it again.

I went back th!e next day and I SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SURPRISED that the film kept pulling me in, making me aware of things I had thought about and lost track of throughout my life. These were the same truths exposed for the first time some forty years ago in 'L'Aventurra,''La Notte,' 'L'Eclisse,' and 'Red Desert,' transposed to a contemporary setting, and they were just as fascinating as ever! The slow, drawn-out meditative moods, the famous "alienated tone," and above all, the subtle comedic subtext underlying everything-I just couldn't get enough.

The (Wenders directed but deeply Antonioni influenced)scene with Malkovich sitting on the fancy colored swings on the windswept beach, sand swirling by, with the weather so beautifully silver-skied, and the Eno/U2 track in the background flowing through at just the shot's rhythm--this had been my favorite on first viewing: it still was, but now the whole film was almost as great. What a strange phenomenon, that special brand of 'complex s!implicity' or 'invisible complex' which Antonioni's eye alone seems to be able to pick up and communicate (and influence Wenders to do like-wise when collaborating).

"Beyond the Clouds" looks at first glance like a soft-core porno of some kind and it does feature plenty of sex (the maddeningly gorgeous Sophie Marceau alone should be enough to distract the males in the audience), but make no mistake about it, its sensibility is timeless and unmistakably Antonioni's to its core; however, you will not sense to what a profound extent, until you have seen the film a few times and got used to its rhythm (I saw it 4 times before they pulled it and would've gone back for more). If this film had been promoted right and people guided to a certain extent as to how to approach it, I have no doubt it would have succeeded on the art house circuit like most of Antonioni's '60s films. But the '60s are no more and the film will have to find its audience on letterboxed DVD (I'll never f!orgive the morons who released those cut-up versions of 'Zabriskie Point' and 'The Passenger' on video) some 5 years after its initial release. I urge all film nuts general or esoteric to see 'Beyond the Clouds' and add a touch of magic to the tragic.
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on February 6, 2003
...some of us, I bet, are getting a little tired of the childish Antonioni bashing that seems to go on. Antonioni bashing not just here, but all over the place...
... I resonate completely with the Amazon.com reviewer who asserted about one other Antonioni film, that it's no surprise that in the age of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), there is little appreciation for the subtleties, delicacies, and
savoir faire of the patient, conscientious, understanding, intuitive, unpretentious, careful, and wise efforts of Michelangelo Antonioni. . .
... the truth is Antonioni's subtle work is TOO good. By some sort of all-too-common common flip-flop neanderthal logic, jewels like BEYOND THE CLOUDS run afoul of lesser minds who are be predisposed to insist it isn't good ENOUGH ...
. . .I think people are afraid of being thought of as thoughtful, and therefore "dangerous," in this day and age. Hence they bash quiet films like BEYOND THE CLOUDS.
...well, I've seen BEYOND THE CLOUDS six times before I bought my copy the other day. It is fit to stand beside Antonioni's RED DESERT as one of the most beautiful color films ever made. Without a Monica Vitti to "guide" us through the film, perhaps the four subtle tales of love, loss, trauma, and reflection that make up BEYOND THE CLOUDS take a few viewings to truly appreciate. But that's what many serious critics say of ALL Antonioni's films...
...sip like a fine wine. Smile at the adult children who look down on BEYOND THE CLOUDS. Rest in the hope they all come across the experiences they need to come around to an appreciation of Antonioni, via intelligence and a newfound understanding...
... I've watched my recently acquired VHS copy of BEYOND THE CLOUDS six times already in the past few days. It is divinely worth it, and my love for it grows with each viewing...
...get your own copy, and do the same...
... the flower, unmolested, blooms and shows all its colors.
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on February 13, 2001
As an avid fan of foreign cinema, I had hoped for far more from this film. While I enjoy savoring slow, brooding, elliptical films (Kieslowski's films largely populate my favorites list), "Nuages" simply didn't deliver. The European locales (and various actresses) in the film are frequently gorgeous and beautifully filmed, but precious little is done with this promising milieu.
Not only do the stories lack depth and interest, the characters/actors are unengaging and even obtrusive. Everyone floats about with this detached, deer-in-the-headlights gaze, mouthing deliberately obscure, overwrought lines that might have come from the pen of some turtleneck-clad, undergraduate philosophy major. There were several moments of unintended humor, when the wearing-my-angst-on-my-sleeve bit crossed the ridiculousness threshold, and left my wife and I laughing aloud. Where Kieslowski's films indirectly but insistently pull you into the urgencies of his protagonists lives, this film opts for the unsubtle; some of these characters might as well be carrying placards noting "I'm Complex!" "I'm emotionally haunted!" and the like. The one near-exception to this observation was the final vignette, featuring the understated but luminous Irene Jacob.
I found myself wishing that the characters would leave me alone to explore the beguiling backdrops against which these pallid vignettes unfold. I don't think that was the director's intent.
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on February 6, 2003
...some of us, I bet, are getting a little tired of the childish Antonioni bashing that seems to go on. Antonioni bashing not just here, but all over the place...
... I resonate completely with the Amazon.com reviewer who asserted about one other Antonioni film, that it's no surprise that in the age of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), there is little appreciation for the subtleties, delicacies, and
savoir faire of the patient, conscientious, understanding, intuitive, unpretentious, careful, and wise efforts of Michelangelo Antonioni. . .
... the truth is Antonioni's subtle work is TOO good. By some sort of all-too-common common flip-flop neanderthal logic, jewels like BEYOND THE CLOUDS run afoul of lesser minds who are be predisposed to insist it isn't good ENOUGH ...
. . .I think people are afraid of being thought of as thoughtful, and therefore "dangerous," in this day and age. Hence they bash quiet films like BEYOND THE CLOUDS.
...well, I've seen BEYOND THE CLOUDS six times before I bought my copy the other day. It is fit to stand beside Antonioni's RED DESERT as one of the most beautiful color films ever made. Without a Monica Vitti to "guide" us through the film, perhaps the four subtle tales of love, loss, trauma, and reflection that make up BEYOND THE CLOUDS take a few viewings to truly appreciate. But that's what many serious critics say of ALL Antonioni's films...
...sip like a fine wine. Smile at the adult children who look down on BEYOND THE CLOUDS. Rest in the hope they all come across the experiences they need to come around to an appreciation of Antonioni, via intelligence and a newfound understanding...
... I've watched my recently acquired VHS copy of BEYOND THE CLOUDS six times already in the past few days. It is divinely worth it, and my love for it grows with each viewing...
...get your own copy, and do the same...
... the flower, unmolested, blooms and shows all its colors.
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on June 13, 2000
I love this movie so much that I will be the first one in line to buy the DVD.
For those of you who love well-designed plots, like those of Manon of the Spring or Sixth Sense, you may be disappointed by the stories in this movie. All four stories were not linked in any meaningful way.
The first story was about a young man, who secretly fell in love with a beautiful young woman (Inès Sastre) that he met in a street. It was the kind of Platonic love in which he loved her spiritually but feared that physical attachment would destroy this relationship. It reminds me of John Cage and Nelle Porter in the Ally McBeal show. Only they were more innocent.
The second story was a bizarre one. John Malkovich and Sophie Marceau were two mysterious strangers who met in a small shop on the shore of a beautiful lake (or sea?). They felt connected in some way that was not easily understandable to the audience.
The third story was about a love triangle in a big city. This story was all so familiar and boring too.
In the last story, a beautiful girl (Irene Jacob) was walking to a church. A young man volunteered to walk with her in the rain. They talked about life and love. When the girl got back home, she told the boy that she was going to enter a convention the day after. The boy left in despair. Obviously, the girl was kind of lost too.
What I love most about this movie is the beautiful places. I love the foggy street and cozy hotel of Ferrara, the beach shops and ivy-covered walls of Portofino, and the streets of Paris in rainy days. These places look so beautiful and lovely that I just want to jump in the screen like the waitress in The Purple Rose of Cairo.
Sastre, Marceau and Jacob look phenomenal in this movie. Reno (well known as Leon in The Professional) and Malkovich have good performance too. When Malkovich plays a serious movie director and observes people's life, it's more funny than serious.
People may feel lost in the clouds after seeing this movie. Actually, this is not a down-to-earth or sci-fi Hollywood movie at all. These stories happen everyday in the world, when I was watching it, I felt I knew these characters all along. Antonioni did not intend to teach you about the meaning of life, love, desire, and betrayal, on the contrary, he tried to help you to experience or to understand your experience through the eyes of the camera. It works fine with me.
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on February 14, 2003
There are those who appear to have difficulty understanding or appreciating this film.
BEYOND THE CLOUDS obscures meaning with its beauty for many viewers. However, perhaps the director wishes us to exercise our imaginations and understandings beyond the perception of surface beauty.
It is difficult in spots. The scene where the young male lover can barely get himself to touch his girlfriend, then leaving in disgust, is disturbing. It is reminiscent of the painful moments in Antonioni's 1964 color film, 'Red Desert.'
Yet all of Antonioni's films, as other viewers have here and elsewhere indicated, are throbbing with meaning underneath their often quiet surfaces.
Some of the cafe style speech of some of the characters in these four strung-together tales is considered a little too 'New Age,' and superficial in tone. True, that which sounds like pseudo-philosophy can be irritating...
However, such stretches do appear in Antonioni's other films. The director ventures to depict such ramblings in order to reveal their social and psychological style, 'music,' and their possible real meaning. Perhaps they take a little thought for the viewer. An Antonioni film is a real experience. Watching BEYOND THE CLOUDS more than once may be necessary, in order to come around to the director's point-of-view.
Perhaps approaching this film as a lengthy contemplation or meditation, rather than just a clever stretch of footage, is the best approach. It is difficult to appreciate right away, like most of Antonioni's films, because it is deeper than it seems on first viewing.
Some have been annoyed with the apparent lack of unity of these four tales. Yet look again. Perhaps an underlying unity in this film eluded you on first viewing. Perhaps perceiving needs a chance to gestate, and grow.
Others have been annoyed with the choices of 'pop' music the director chose to line his film with. Yet we have come to lose sight of the issue of 'layers of meaning' in a film or other works of art. We no longer wonder why a director chooses his music: we simply condemn him for his choices outright, and at first hearing, without thinking.
Still others condemn the film for what they perceive as gratuitous soft-core nude scenes. Perhaps they are. Yet, perhaps they mean to say something else within the context of BEYOND THE CLOUDS.
I think this thoughtful, demanding, and beautiful film is one of the best bargains on the 'art' film market today (or any other day.) It is definitely worth owning and watching more than once...
I hope this helps.
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on April 8, 2002
The great Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni spins four dreamy tales into an uneven confection concerning passion and connectivity. Though not as bitter as La Notte or L'Avventura (two of his masterpieces), in this film Antonioni seems more pensive and nostalgic for the tragedy of passing time and lost love. A great cast fills the landscape of lovers trying to connect and passions boiling beneath the surface, some fulfilled, others disappointingly engaged. John Malcovich wanders through the film as a narrator connecting the threads of the four stories (the direction assisted by Wim Wenders due to Antonioni's age and the after effects of a stroke), and the international cast of Peter Weller, Irene Jacob, Vincent Perez, Sophie Marceau and Jean Reno are perfectly tuned in to the director's icy, haunting style. A brief cameo by Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau (stars of La Notte) is touching and sad. This film is a must for Antonioni's fans, his scene composition and camerawork are still among the best of any living director.
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on April 8, 2002
The great Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni spins four dreamy tales into an uneven confection concerning passion and connectivity. Though not as bitter as La Notte or L'Avventura (two of his masterpieces), in this film Antonioni seems more pensive and nostalgic for the tragedy of passing time and lost love. A great cast fills the landscape of lovers trying to connect and passions boiling beneath the surface, some fulfilled, others disappointingly engaged. John Malcovich wanders through the film as a narrator connecting the threads of the four stories (the direction assisted by Wim Wenders due to Antonioni's age and the after effects of a stroke), and the international cast of Peter Weller, Irene Jacob, Vincent Perez, Sophie Marceau and Jean Reno are perfectly tuned in to the director's icy, haunting style. A brief cameo by Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau (stars of La Notte) is touching and sad. This film is a must for Antonioni's fans, his scene composition and camerawork are still among the best of any living director.
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