Scottish actor Kevin Mckidd is trekking up Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to raise money for charity. The Grey's Anatomy star has swapped the Hollywood Hills for the Scottish Highlands to take on the hiking challenge with his friend and fellow Scottish actor Iain Robertson to raise money for a sudden infant death syndrome charity.
McKidd, who has two children, wanted to help his pal raise funds for the Scottish Cot Death Trust (SCDT) because Robertson's sister died when she was a tiny baby.
He says, "I know that Iain has personal reasons for supporting such a worthy charity and I'm glad space in my schedule has allowed me to get involved.
"As a parent I can't even begin to imagine what the loss of a child would feel like, I hope people dig deep to help the SCDT continue to offer much-needed support and assistance. It's great to be home and taking in the Scottish scenery again, and helping out such a good cause in the process."
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.
It must be awfully frustrating for Robert Pattinson and everyone involved in movies with him to be hamstrung by studios that want to take advantage of his Twilight fan base. There's no other explanation for this fangless adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's classic novel about a mercenary young lad who beds society ladies for political leverage. Oh and because he can.
As Georges Duroy the titular bel ami Pattinson skulks sulks and glowers his way through Paris in the 19th century. The dirt poor former solider runs into a comrade from the war who is now a powerful newspaper editor; Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister) who takes pity on the filthy drunk tosses him a few gold pieces and invites him to dinner. Madeleine Forestier is the brain behind the operation and she advises Duroy to cozy up to the other society ladies as they're the ones with the real power. Duroy gets a gig writing a column for the newspaper which Madeleine actually writes for him and his career as a professional grifter begins.
The plot of Bel Ami revolves around the political environment of France just before its invasion of Morocco as much as it does Duroy's love affairs. It's a major motivating factor for many of the characters one that has been watered down or edited out to the point where it's almost an afterthought. This takes away a lot of the urgency and the sort of backstabbing deliciousness that one would expect from a piece like this. The stakes aren't that high until near the end when they come to a sudden head. Before that the story was meandering between Duroy's dalliances with a married woman and how he's scamming the newspaper.
Christina Ricci plays Duroy's lover Clotilde one of Madeleine's friends and although she's married there's no weight to the affair other than to show the supposedly sexy sex that has been both part of the movie's hype and it would seem its main marketing problem. Marketing problems are relevant here because they generally mean more and more edits are made until what was once a coherent movie becomes a confusing mishmash through little fault of those directly involved.
Their scenes are moderately steamy for an R-rated movie. They're obviously not appropriate for his so-called fan base but it's obvious that even before the Twilight franchise was nearing its run that Pattinson wanted to take a stab at actual acting. Although Duroy is a sh*t it seems unlikely that the final cut of the film is all that true to the book or even the vision of those involved.
That's a shame since Bel Ami looks lovely even if it comes off as occasionally goofy. Ricci is beautiful but her character is banal. The men are all fairly interchangeable cigar-smoking society types or ink-stained writers. The most memorable thing about Uma Thurman's performance is how elegantly she smokes her cigarettes and how she treats Duroy's lovemaking as if it were less interesting than a fly landing on her arm. As one of the society women that Duroy beds as part of his scheming Kristin Scott Thomas goes from a typically no-nonsense married lady to a mewling quim. Pattinson can't seem to find the right balance between rage and sweetness; it's actually impossible to tell who he's in love with when or why until he bursts out with statements like "I was the one getting f*cked!" Or was the audience?
Moviegoers went Zoinks! over Scooby-Doo, launching it to $56.4 million, the biggest June opening ever. Warners plans to continue the franchise with a Scooby sequel in 2004.
The Bourne Identity kicked off strongly in second place to a better than expected $27.5 million. Windtalkers invaded third place, digging in with favorable exit polls and a hopeful $14.5 million.
Also driving the weekend were The Sum of All Fears in fourth place with $13.5 million and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in fifth with $9.8 million.
Ticket sales soared 27 percent ahead of this weekend last year. Key films -- those grossing $500,000 or more -- took in $164.5 million versus last year's $129.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
Warner Bros.' PG rated family comedy Scooby-Doo turned out to be one sizzling hot dog at the box office, opening to a record setting ESTIMATED $56.42 million at 3,447 theaters ($16,368 per theater).
Directed by Raja Gosnell, it stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini and Rowan Atkinson.
Scooby's average per theater was the highest for any film playing this weekend.
"It's the largest grossing June opening in motion picture history," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "The biggest June opening prior to this was Austin Powers (with $54.9 million for New Line's sequel Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me the weekend of June 11-13, 1999). It exceeds the best opening in Warner's June history, which was Batman Forever, our second Batman, (with $52.8 million the weekend of June 16-18, 1995)."
What accounts for Scooby's staggering success? "I think Scooby is a beloved character and it fits into a Looney Tunes mold (in that) it reaches audiences from eight to 80. There was such a fan base (that was even) deeper than we had anticipated. You know, Dan Romanelli and his Consumer Products Group (at Warner Bros.) have been pushing Scooby-Doo ever since they took over consumer product sales for Hanna-Barbera when (Warners) bought it. Scooby has been a big seller."
Focusing on the multiple areas at Warners that contributed to the film's blockbuster launch, Fellman pointed out that the result is a valuable new franchise with a Scooby sequel coming in two years. "It just shows," he said, "that you can take that synergy between consumer products, production, marketing and (television exposure on AOL Time Warner's) the Cartoon Network and build a new franchise. And that's what we've done. So we will have a Scooby-Doo 2 in 2004."
Universal's PG-13 espionage thriller The Bourne Identity arrived in second place, beating insider expectations with a muscular ESTIMATED $27.5 million at 2,638 theaters ($10,425 per theater).
Directed by Doug Liman, it stars Matt Damon.
"Aside from the fact that the production team really came through, I give a lot of credit to (marketing president) Adam Fogelson and his marketing team," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "In the last two weeks they were able to take this genre film and separate it from the usual spy thrillers by making it look fresh and young and hip. Using director Doug Liman, who's known for (making films with an) independent flavor, that all jelled with the campaign, which got tremendous awareness over the past two weeks. So we were really very, very pleased."
Considering how unconventional Bourne is, Rocco noted, "It's really something to open a film at this level. Matt Damon demonstrates how very talented he is. This is Matt's biggest opening for a (film that for him is) a star vehicle. The other films he was in (that opened bigger like) Ocean's Eleven and Saving Private Ryan weren't really his vehicles. So (in terms of carrying) a film on his own, this is his biggest opening."
Damon, Rocco added, "did a tremendous amount of work to open it. He toured for two weeks on the road talking about the film. I give him a lot of credit because in a crowded marketplace you really have to stand out and that's just what happened. The campaign stood out and the talent stood out and here are the results. It's great. It was a pretty big challenge for us to open this picture in such an environment where there are such high profile films and such huge budgeted competition. So to reach this level of success is quite incredible."
MGM's R rated World War II drama Windtalkers opened in third place in the thick of the box office battle with an ESTIMATED $14.5 million at 2,898 theaters ($5,003 per theatre).
Directed by John Woo, it stars Nicolas Cage.
"It was a big weekend and at least we're in that top tier of movies, so that's good," MGM marketing and distribution president Bob Levin said Sunday morning. "Obviously, we would have liked to have done more business, but our exits show we have about a 55 percent male audience, about two-thirds of them over 25. In that over-25 group, they're very strong.
"They seemed to really like the movie -- so, hopefully, they'll stay with us. They didn't come out quite in the numbers that we hoped (they would) this weekend, but with the stunning performance of Scooby-Doo, maybe they decided to take their kids to see Scooby-Doo this weekend. We'll get 'em (in the weeks ahead). It's now (a matter of) digging in and trying to keep ourselves in that upper tier and just get the business."
Paramount's PG-13 rated thriller The Sum Of All Fears slid three pegs to fourth place in its third week, holding decently given its stiff new competition with an ESTIMATED $13.5 million (-30%) at 3,155 theaters (-63 theaters; $4,180 per theater). Its cume is approximately $84.5 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson and produced by Mace Newfeld, it stars Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman.
"I think $100 million is very safe now (as a domestic projection)," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "I'd anticipated a more substantial drop this weekend given the competition that came in. But it seems that the market expanded to accommodate all three of these movies (that opened)."
Given the strength of the new films, Fears held quite well. "We're very happy with that hold," Lewellen said. "We were somewhat disappointed last week, not by the end result but last Saturday we got hurt by the (championship) fight and all the sporting activities (that were on television). But we came back on Sunday, so the weekend overall last week held up pretty well.
"We felt that was kind of the opening (to do business) before Bourne Identity and Windtalkers came in, which was certainly directed at our audience. But to hold to a 30 percent drop in the face of that level competition, we're very ecstatic with that, I'll tell you."
Warner Bros. and Gaylord Films' PG-13 rated drama Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood dropped three slots in its second week to fifth place with a less lively ESTIMATED $9.8 million (-39%) at 2,507 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,909 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.0 million.
Directed by Calle Khouri, it stars Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn, Fionnula Flanagan, James Garner, Ashley Judd, Shirley Knight, Angus MacFadyen and Maggie Smith.
20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's PG rated franchise installment Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones slipped three rungs to sixth place in its fifth week with a quieter ESTIMATED $9.2 million (-34%) at 2,401 theaters (-760 theaters; $3,832 per theater). Its cume is approximately $270.5 million, heading for $300 million in domestic theaters.
Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace took in $431.1 million in domestic theaters. Its worldwide total (domestic plus international) was $923 million.
Directed by George Lucas, it stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen.
Columbia's PG-13 sci-fi fantasy blockbuster Spider-Man fell two pegs to seventh place in its seventh week, continuing to hold well with an ESTIMATED $7.4 million (-28%) at 2,705 theaters (-530 theaters; $2,739 per theater). Its cume is approximately $382.4 million heading for $400 million in domestic theaters.
Spidey had the lowest percentage drop of any film in this weekend's Top Ten.
Directed by Sam Raimi, it stars Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' PG-13 rated action film Bad Company skidded four notches in its second week to eighth place with a slow $6.1 million (-45%) at 2,944 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,069 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.8 million.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock.
DreamWorks' G rated animated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron dropped two slots to ninth place in its fourth week with an uneventful ESTIMATED $5.5 million (-40%) at 2,873 theaters (-489 theaters; $1,931 per theater). Its cume is approximately $63.8 million.
Directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook, it was produced by Mireille Soria and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13 rated urban appeal comedy Undercover Brother, down three rungs in its third week to a quiet ESTIMATED $4.64 million (-37%) at 1,832 theaters (-337 theaters; $2,530 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.6 million.
Directed by Malcom D. Lee, it stars Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan and Denise Richards. Its producers are Brian Grazer, Michael Jenkinson and Damon Lee.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax's R rated classic drama Cinema Paradiso: The New Version with an okay ESTIMATED $27,000 at 3 theaters ($9,000 per theater).
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, it stars Philippe Noiret.
Think Film's R rated dark comedy The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys opened quietly to an ESTIMATED $57,000 at 9 theaters ($6,356 per theater).
Directed by Peter Care, it stars Kieran Culkin.
Paramount Classics' romantic comedy The Emperor's New Clothes opened poorly to an ESTIMATED $8,000 at 2 theaters ($3,810 per theater).
Directed by Alan Taylor, it stars Ian Holm.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend IFC Films' PG rated romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding went wider in its ninth week with a still happy ESTIMATED $1.7 million at 453 theaters (+10 theaters; $3,745 per theater). Its cume is approximately $13.6 million.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Miramax's PG rated comedy The Importance of Being Earnest widened quietly in its fourth week to an ESTIMATED $0.62 million at 180 theaters ($3,416 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.4 million.
Directed by Oliver Parker, it stars Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson.
Miramax said Earnest will expand to 250 theaters June 28.
Fine Line Features' R rated drama Cherish expanded in its second week with an unexciting ESTIMATED $46,000 at 25 theaters (+19 theaters; $1,825 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.1 million.
Written and directed by Finn Taylor, it stars Robin Tunney.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $164.54 million, up 27.4 percent from last year when they totaled $129.15 million.
Key films were up 56.54 percent from the previous weekend of this year when they grossed $105.11 million.
Last year, Paramount's opening week of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was first with $47.74 million at 3,308 theaters ($14,430 per theater); and Buena Vista/Disney's second week of Atlantis: The Lost Empire was second with $20.34 million at 3,011 theaters ($6,756 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $58.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $83.9 million.