David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
As one of history's better sports stories Cinderella Man focuses on legendary prizefighter James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) who during the Great Depression became a common-man hero. Once a boxer on the rise Braddock hits rock bottom with the rest of the broken-down beaten-up and out-of-luck American populace and is forced to give up his dreams of being a world champion to find work. We get to sit around with Braddock his loving supportive but weepy wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and their starving cold children for the first hour of the film feeling mightily depressed indeed. But then things pick up when Braddock gets a last-chance bid to make something of himself by returning to the ring. Spurred on by an inner determination--and his hardnosed manager Joe (Paul Giamatti)--Braddock miraculously makes an almost mythical rise to the top. The underdog to beat all underdogs--yes even topping a nobody horse named Seabiscuit--the pugilist ends up taking on the heavyweight champ of the world Max Baer (Craig Bierko) who's renowned for having killed two men in the ring. And wins. The roar from the people who look to their "Cinderella Man" as their champion is deafening.
Chris Rock said it the best: "If you're gonna do a movie about the past you best to get Russell's ass!" It's absolutely true. The Oscar-winning Crowe has an uncanny knack for taking anything period and making it seem contemporary be it clashing swords in the gladiator ring in ancient Rome or working out equations on a library window as a brilliant but trouble 1950s mathematician. So it seems natural Crowe would once again turn in a stellar performance as the Depression-era boxer who rallies from the depths of despair to become a world champion. Of course Crowe did have to learn how to box--and apparently injured his shoulder pretty severely during the process--but it was all in a day's work for this hardworking Method actor. He also is supported by a superlative cast including Zellweger as Braddock's devoted yet longsuffering wife. The actress may be a bit more pinched-face than usual having to play cold and hungry most of the time but she still does an admirable job. The biggest standout however is Giamatti as the beleaguered but sharp-as-a-tack manager who does everything in his power to get Braddock back in the ring--and keep him there. Someone just needs to give this man an Oscar. Pronto.
Of course everyone is calling Cinderella Man this summer's Seabiscuit. Granted the comparisons are numerous--underdog plot the Great Depression down-trodden men who need some kind of hope to get them back on their feet again a nation rallying behind them. But Seabiscuit didn't have the powerhouse duo of Crowe and director Ron Howard to back it up. Their special brand of mojo made A Beautiful Mind another rather staid biopic the Oscar winner of 2001. It only makes sense they would try for it again with Cinderella Man's inspirational story. While the first part of the film discourages you a bit it's necessary to set up Braddock's desperation and ultimate fortitude. Once we hit the ring however the action is nonstop and riveting making you shout from your seat. Howard now joins the handful of directors including Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) and Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull) who can effectively cause this reaction by watching two men (or women in Eastwood's case) pummel each other. But as far as Cinderella's Oscar chances it's a tough call because: a) it is the beginning of summer and b) it's not a film you carry around with you once you leave the theater. Perhaps if the studio does a blitzkrieg Oscar marketing campaign similar to Seabiscuit it might work. We'll see.
Russell Crowe has slammed his Cinderella Man co-star Craig Bierko for claiming
he deliberately blanked him on the Canadian set of the boxing movie.
Bierko, who plays German fighter Max Baer in the new film, recently voiced
his surprise that he hardly knows Crowe, despite working alongside him for a
He said, "I don't know him from Adam. There was literally not a single moment
where I felt like we were actually bonding, or having a conversation."
But Crowe blames the distance between them on the quality of Bierko's
acting. He says, "Craig Bierko has an imagination. His recollection of the experience
is significantly different from anyone else's.
"I spent my 40th birthday party on a satellite connection with my wife and
child in Australia. Sorry I didn't invite Craig. I didn't think it was
"The fact is, he hadn't done enough work and he had to be drilled and
drilled, and brought up to where we needed him to be - because if Max Baer
isn't frightening and isn't capable, then we don't have much of a movie.
"Craig has never been in this kind of situation before. It has never been
required of him to put this much work and this much of himself into a role.
"He didn't realize what he was getting into... He realized afterwards."
Article Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
Top Story: J.Lo Denies She's Crying a River
Jennifer Lopez denies she gave an interview to Star magazine in which she was quoted as saying she was "extremely brokenhearted" over her breakup with fiancée Ben Affleck, The Associated Press reports, and that Lopez felt she had put "enormous effort" into the relationship with Affleck, but had to end it so she could put her "personal and professional life back together." According to a representative for Lopez, she was never interviewed by Star magazine's reporter Victoria Gotti, AP reports, but the tabloid stands by the story.
Crowe TKO'd on Boxing Film
Actor and new dad Russell Crowe suffered a dislocated shoulder while in training for his new film Cinderella Man, Reuters reports. Crowe is training for his upcoming role as world heavyweight champion James Braddock, a poor, local fighter who went on to beat reigning champ Max Baer in 1935. Universal Pictures told Reuters Crowe, 39, would immediately undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the injury in Australia, followed by intense physical therapy.
Singer Manilow Suffers Chest Pains
Crooner Barry Manilow was rushed to the hospital Saturday night in Palm Springs, Calif., after complaining of chest pains, Reuters reports. Manilow, 57, was hospitalized after returning home earlier in the day from New York, where he "endured two of the most grueling days of arbitration" in a lawsuit in which he and co-writer Bruce Sussman are fighting to regain the rights to their stage musical Harmony, publicist Jerry Sharell told Reuters. Sharell said Manilow would remain in the hospital to undergo various procedures and tests.
Trebek Resumes Jeopardy! Post After Accident
Alex Trebek will resume his Jeopardy! hosting duties Tuesday after escaping serious injury when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his pickup truck Friday, AP reports. The 63-year-old game show host was driving in central Calif. near the town of Templeton when his truck drifted off the road, sideswiped a bank of mailboxes and sailed over an embankment into a ditch. Trebek was not hospitalized and was not cited, AP reports.
Real World Creator Dies
TV producer Mary-Ellis Bunim, who pioneered the age of reality programming by co-creating MTV's The Real World, died Thursday in Los Angeles after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 57.
Press Want Cameras at Jackson Hearing
News organizations asked a judge on Friday to allow cameras into an upcoming Michael Jackson court appearance Feb. 13, claiming the chaotic mess of Jackson's arraignment Jan. 16 on molestation charges should be countered by images of orderly proceedings, Reuters reports. Lawyers for Court TV, Fox News Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and AP stated in a written motion that Jackson's arraignment undermined the court system. "The public did not see Mr. Jackson plead not guilty but instead saw only Mr. Jackson's dramatic entry into and exit from the courthouse followed by his interaction with a large crowd of supporters from atop an SUV and his invitations to a party at Neverland Ranch," the court papers said. It was not immediately clear how Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville would handle the request, AP reports.
It's All About Timing, Says Miramax Chief
Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein blames timing for Cold Mountain's failure to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. In an interview with Time magazine, Reuter reports Weinstein said, "With the early (Oscar voting) this year, we fell short. There's a lot to do for Academy members and I don't know how many members we got to. We just plain ran out of people who had seen this movie." Even though Cold Mountain garnered seven nominations, including a nod to Jude Law for lead actor and one to Renee Zellweger for supporting actress, it is the first time in 12 years Miramax has not had a Best Picture contender. The studio did get the most nominations, however, with 15 in total, including nods for the Brazilian film City of God. But Weinstein says Miramax has learned its lesson, telling Newsweek the studio plans to move up the release of J.M. Barrie's Neverland starring Johnny Depp, to October, as well as releasing Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, in November rather than December.
Religious Groups Plan Counter Against Passion
Jewish and Christian groups alike are planning lecture series, interfaith talks and other programs to try to deal with the perceived impact Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ will have, AP reports, which is being released Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25. The American Jewish Committee, who viewed the film last week, said they believed it contained destructive stereotypes about the Jewish role in Christ's death "It's part of something larger, which is a hardening of religious conversation. It is such an absolutist movie. It undermines the progress that we've made in this country toward mutual respect and religious pluralism," Rabbi David Elcott, the American Jewish Committee's interfaith director, told AP. Meanwhile, several prominent conservative Christians, including the Rev. Billy Graham, said the film was among the most powerful depictions they'd seen of Christ's last hours. They plan sermons and lectures related to the movie, and have even produced special Bibles that contain images from the film, AP reports.
Iommi Tops Greatest Guitarist List
Black Sabbath's guitarist Tony Iommi was named the No. 1 metal guitarist of all time by Guitar World magazine, Reuters reports. According to Guitar World editor in chief Brad Tolinski, the criteria for the l
Top Story: Britney's No Virgin
Britney Spears is no longer a virgin, despite her oath she would remain one until marriage. In an upcoming interview in the August issue of W magazine, the pop princess confessed she had sex with her former boyfriend, singer Justin Timberlake, because she believed she'd marry him someday. "I've only slept with one person my whole life," she said in the interview. "It was two years into my relationship with Justin, and I thought he was the one. But I was wrong!" Spears continued, "The most painful thing I have ever experienced was that breakup. We were together so long and I had this vision. You think you're going to spend the rest of your life together. Where I come from, the woman is the homemaker, and that's how I was brought up--you cook for your kids. But now I realize I need my single time."
Jolie Talks About Sex, Self-Mutilation
Angelina Jolie is admitting she's done some pretty wild things in her past but has since changed her ways. In an interview with Barbara Walters set to air Friday on ABC's 20/20, the Oscar-winning actress talked about her brief but passionate marriage to ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton as well as her past fascination with knives and self-mutilation, Reuters reports. Describing her relationship with Thornton, Jolie said, "We're not friends, no. It's like we just changed." Jolie added she has been transformed by motherhood after adopting a Cambodian-born boy last year. "I think when you make a decision to have a child, you cannot think about suicide again and you can't be self-destructive." The interview will air Friday on ABC's 20/20.
Blake's Lawyer Wants New Witness's Testimony
Robert Blake's lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. has asked for a special pretrial session to question a new witness, Diane Mattson, in the murder case against Blake, The Associated Press reports. Mattson claims she overheard Christian Brando--the son of actor Marlon Brando, who had had a relationship with Blake's wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, before her shooting death in May 2001--tell two stuntmen that Bakely should be shot "in the head." Mesereau Jr. told AP Mattson is "scared to death" of Brando, fearing for her life, and wants to preserve her testimony now to discourage anyone from causing her injury or trying to prevent her from testifying at the trial, AP reports. A hearing to determine the urgency of this testimony has been set for Thursday. An official trial date has not been determined.
Angels Nonchalant About Box Office Numbers
Although their new film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle hasn't met up to expectations at the U.S. box office, having taken in only $67 million in over two weeks, money apparently doesn't matter to stars Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. On the film's press tour in Europe, the three best pals agreed Tuesday they didn't really care how much the film made, just so long as they were able to make the movie together, Reuters reports. "It doesn't mean anything to us," Diaz said in an interview with journalists in Berlin. "I'm not interested in breaking records." Full Throttle's debut weekend brought in $38 million, just below its predecessor Charlie's Angels, which opened in 2000 with $40 million.
Former Stripper Sues Stripperella Creators
An ex-stripper from Florida is suing over new TNN animated series Stripperella, about a tough lady who strips for a living but moonlights as a superhero, claiming she was the one who came up with the original idea, AP reports. Named in the suit are actress Pamela Anderson, the voice of the character; comic legend and Stripperella creator Stan Lee and TNN. Janet Clover, 37, claims she came up with the idea during a private dance session with Lee a year ago. "I'm just trying to get this off TV because it's not his idea," Clover told The Daytona Beach News-Journal. "I can't remember much about Mr. Lee, little bits and pieces come back. You know, I meet a lot of men."
Role Call: Zellweger and Crowe in Cinderella Story, Malkovich Is Found in the Street
Renee Zellweger and Russell Crowe are set to star in Ron Howard's Cinderella Man for Miramax Films and Universal Pictures. Variety reports Crowe will play Jim Braddock, the Depression-era boxer who became a folk hero by winning a brutal 15-round match against heavyweight champion Max Baer in 1935. Zellweger will play Braddock's wife…John Malkovich's production company, Mr. Mudd, has taken on the film project Found in the Street, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the indie film will be a psychological suspense thriller about a chance encounter between several people in New York's Greenwich Village, including a middle-aged security guard, an artist, his bisexual wife and a lesbian waitress/model. A series of events leads to murder and blame.
Whitney Houston's father John Houston died of cardiac arrest early Sunday morning in New York after struggling many years with diabetes and heart disease. He was 82. He and his famous daughter were recently embroiled in a lawsuit in which the elder Houston's theatrical management company claimed the pop diva owed the company $100 million for helping her through financial difficulties and securing a record contract. In December, he publicly urged his daughter from his hospital bed to "pay the money you owe me." The dispute did not keep Whitney away, however, as Reuters reports the singer flew to New York Sunday from Miami, where she was doing a shoot for a magazine cover, to be with her family.
Ben Affleck will not be marrying his fiancee Jennifer Lopez on Valentine's Day after all. Reuters reports the actor quelled the rumor by telling Vanity Fair in an interview published Monday that he and Lopez "don't have time!" and added they are shooting for the nuptials to take place sometime next summer.
Jude Law doesn't like rumors either. According to People.com, Law, who is married to actress Sadie Frost, insisted to Australia's Syndey Morning Herald that the rumor he and Nicole Kidman had an affair on the set of their movie Cold Mountain is categorically untrue and "to suggest otherwise is malicious, hurtful and libelous." It was reported by a few tabloids that Frost, who recently had to be treated for postnatal depression after giving birth to the couple's son, may have been also upset about the alleged affair. Law added, "I have been on to my lawyers and will follow all legal action necessary to ensure that these kind of vicious lies are put to a stop."
Pop star Michael Jackson, who allowed a British interviewer access to his personal life over an eight month period for a special television documentary, reveals, among other things, that he picked a surrogate mother to give birth to his third child, Prince Michael II. Jackson also told ITV1 reporter Martin Bashir having children sleep in his bed is perfectly innocent and admitted he had plastic surgery on his nose--twice. Riiight. The 90-minute TV-special aired on British television Monday and will air on ABC's 20/20 Thursday.
Meryl Streep doesn't buy into all the Oscar hullabaloo. The Oscar-winning actress told London's Daily Telegraph, "I find it alarming that all the campaigning for Oscars is getting like a political campaign. It really is distasteful.....It won't be long before they start paying for television commercials for best picture, best actor and all those things." The 53-year-old actress has been nominated 12 times, winning twice, and shares the nom record with Katharine Hepburn. Heavily touted this year for her performances in The Hours and Adaptation, Streep will most likely break that record when the Academy announces the nominations next week.
Russell Crowe is set to reunite with his A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for the boxing drama Cinderella Man. Variety reports the film focuses on Depression-era fighter and folk hero Jim Braddock, who defeated heavyweight champ Max Baer in a 15-round slugfest in 1935.
The Directors Guild of America has announced their nominees for the best television movie direction for 2002, including nods for the late John Frankenheimer for HBO's Path to War, Julie Dash for CBS' The Rosa Parks Story and Mick Jackson for HBO's Live From Baghdad.
NBC's new drama Kingpin has drawn criticism from the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Associated Press reports, for its depiction of Hispanics as "drug dealers, murderers and unpatriotic American citizens," the group said in a statement. They added the show "opens the door to more negative feelings towards Latinos in our community."