Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Pages

'Cloud Atlas': You're Better Off Reading The Book

Oct 26, 2012

First I need to talk about the book, because it's not as if Cloud Atlas the movie came from nowhere — and if you think it's only the movie you want to know about, I think you need a context for what's onscreen.

Author David Mitchell writes exquisite pastiches, and Cloud Atlas is in the form of six distinct and enthralling novellas set in six different eras with six different literary styles.

First comes the journal of a 19th century lawyer for a slave-trading company, then a series of early 20th century letters from a down-and-out composer who apprentices himself to an elderly musical giant. We jump to a 1970s paranoid conspiracy thriller; then a 2012 tale of a debt-ridden publisher tricked into signing himself into an old age home. In a totalitarian future, a South Korean restaurant is staffed by female robots called "fabricants," a couple of which are beginning to think for themselves with tumultuous social consequences. The last story is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which some denizens are hunter-gatherers, others cannibals.

From story to story there are echoes, counterpoints, variations, characters in one time aware of characters in the previous one through print or film or oral history, so it's as if a baton is being passed. The idea that everything in the universe is connected doesn't come from a character's speech — it seeps into you as you read.

The movie, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Twyker, doesn't have discrete episodes. Every one of its stories is interwoven with every other — it's an epic hash of crisscrossing fragments tied together by music in a vain attempt at fluidity. I found it disjointed, distractingly busy; unlike the book, it telegraphs the theme from its first scene on.

The main actors have parts in all six stories, often in egregious disguises. They're a very uneven stock company. Tom Hanks speaking in a subliterate patois opens the film as a post-apocalyptic tribesman, then shows up with a putty nose and snaggle teeth in the 19th century — and so on. I like Hanks but when it comes to transforming, he's no Peter Sellers. It's always, "Hi, Tom!"

The even less versatile Halle Berry is primarily a gossip-rag reporter who ferrets out chicanery in the nuclear industry. Hugo Weaving plays sundry one-dimensional villains while Hugh Grant manages to embody a cannibal in war paint without losing his English lockjaw. Korean Doona Bae is the "fabricant": She has a lollipop head and a lithe body, but it's hard to detect much under the surface. There is one fine performance — Jim Broadbent as the publisher, and one splendid one — Ben Whishaw as the young composer.

But the dialogue is full of flashcards and placards. Hanks gets to sum the film up in the episode in which he's a nervous nuclear scientist with blond hair in love with Berry's reporter.

Cloud Atlas is never dull; it's like a series of clunky but energetic B-movies inflated by lines like "Separation is an illusion" and "My life exists far beyond the limitations of me." It's certainly passionate. You can see why the Wachowskis were drawn to the book. They've expressed a belief in the transmigration of souls, the body but a weak and temporary vessel. And politically, they're radical: For them, every age has oppressors with unchecked power who preserve artificial boundaries — racial, sexual, economic, spiritual. As in The Matrix, the answer in Cloud Atlas is: Free your mind. Once you do there is but one possibility: Overthrow the Man.

My own mind was too dismayed by all the howlers in the dialogue and acting to be freed — the movie is too literal-minded to be a good head-trip. But I should add that audiences at the Toronto Film Festival premiere reportedly stood and cheered for 10 minutes. With its busy transitions and metaphysical heft Cloud Atlas could be this year's Inception. You'll travel farther, though, if you read the book.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI: For "Cloud Atlas," the sibling directors of "The Matrix," Larry and Lana Wachowski, teamed with filmmaker Tom Tykwer, who directed "Run, Lola, Run," to co-direct an adaptation of David Mitchell's epic bestselling novel. The omnibus film stars Tom Hanks in multiple roles and also features Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and a large ensemble cast. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

DAVID EDELSTEIN, BYLINE: First I need to talk about the book, because it's not as if "Cloud Atlas" the movie came from nowhere. And if you think it's only the movie you want to know about, I think you need a context for what's onscreen. Author David Mitchell writes exquisite pastiches and "Cloud Atlas" is in the form of six distinct and enthralling novellas set in six different eras with six different literary styles.

First comes the journal of a 19th century lawyer for a slave-trading company. Then a series of early 20th century letters from a down and out composer who apprentices himself to an elderly musical giant. We jump to a 1970s paranoid conspiracy thriller, then a 2012 tale of a debt-ridden publisher tricked into signing himself into an old age home.

In a totalitarian future, a South Korean restaurant is staffed by female robots called fabricants, a couple of which are beginning to think for themselves, with tumultuous social consequences. The last story is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which some denizens are hunter-gatherers, others cannibals.

From story to story there are echoes, counterpoints, variations, characters in one time aware of characters in the previous one through print or film or oral history. So it's as if a baton is being passed. The idea that everything in the universe is connected doesn't come from a character's speech. It seeps into you as you read.

The movie, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, doesn't have discreet episodes. Every one of its stories is interwoven with every other. It's an epic hash of crisscrossing fragments tied together by music in a vain attempt at fluidity. I found it disjointed, distractingly busy.

Unlike the book, it telegraphs the theme from its first scene on. The main actors have parts in all six stories, often in egregious disguises. They're a very uneven stock company. Tom Hanks, speaking in a sub-literate patois, opens the film as a post-apocalyptic tribesman, then shows up with a putty nose and snaggle teeth in the 19th century, and so on.

I like Hanks, but when it comes to transforming, he's no Peter Sellers. It's always: Hi, Tom. The even less versatile Halle Berry is primarily a gossip rag reporter who ferrets out chicanery in the nuclear industry. Hugo Weaving plays sundry one-dimensional villains while Hugh Grant manages to embody a cannibal in war paint without losing his English lockjaw.

Korean Doona Bae is the fabricant. She has a lollipop head and a live body but it's hard to detect much under the surface. There is one fine performance: Jim Broadbent as the publisher. And one splendid one: Ben Whishaw as the young composer. But the dialogue is full of flashcards and placards.

Tom Hanks gets to sum the film up in the episode in which he's a nervous nuclear scientist with blond hair in love with Halle Berry's reporter.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CLOUD ATLAS")

TOM HANKS: (as Isaac Sachs) Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the theory of relativity and principles of uncertainty, phenomena that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday I believed I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we imagine ourself to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish.

EDELSTEIN: "Cloud Atlas" is never dull. It's like a series of clunky but energetic B movies, inflated by lines like: Separation is an illusion. And: My life exists far beyond the limitations of me. It's certainly passionate. You can see why the Wachowskis were drawn to the book. They've expressed a belief in the transmigration of souls, the body but a weak and temporary vessel, and politically they're radical.

For them, every age has oppressors with unchecked power who preserve artificial boundaries - racial, sexual, economic, spiritual. As in "The Matrix," the answer in "Cloud Atlas" is free your mind. Once you do, there is but one possibility: overthrow the man.

My own mind was too dismayed by all the howlers in the dialogue and acting to be freed. The movie is too literal-minded to be a good head trip. But I should add that audiences at the Toronto Film Festival premiere reportedly stood and cheered for 10 minutes. With its busy transitions and metaphysical heft, "Cloud Atlas" could be this year's "Inception." You'll travel farther, though, if you read the book.

BIANCULLI: David Edelstein is film critic for New York Magazine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.