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.
Taylor Swift has had her fair share of boyfriends. Not only do we know this because of the attention the 22-year-old pop singer's relationships attract from the media — but also because, well, she tends to write songs about all of her exes. She's rumored to have songs for Taylor Lautner, Jake Gyllenhaal, and possibly even John Mayer, and now she has made a promise to compose some lyrics about another man: David Letterman. Maybe her new song will give Kanye West an actual reason to crash her next acceptance speech because, let's face it, what can Swift have to say about a 65-year-old television host? That he's a good laaaa...te night interviewer?
Here's what you missed last night on late night TV:
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Tom Hanks made his first appearance on Fallon ever. He shared a story about how he recently received a text message from Bruce Springsteen asking Hanks to play a gig with him on Fallon. After spending a few minutes getting psyched about the epic event, Hanks realized that he had to turn Springsteen down because he had to attend his kids' Back to School Day at the same time. "I'm not going to be able to be on the Jimmy Fallon show with Bruce Springsteen playing in the band," Hanks almost cried. Hanks then sent Springsteen a heartfelt message: "Bruce, I'm so honored that you would have the confidence in me to come out and help you blow out 'Wrecking Ball' on national TV. It's an honor beyond compare. I cannot believe that I'm not able to do it. I hate to let you down. No one wants to let down Bruce Springsteen, but I feel like I'm doing it. But I have to tell you, the charge you have given my life is so tremendous. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Enough? I can't do it. But if you ever need me and my six-string to back you up, I'm there for you, my brother. So sorry I can't help you this time. Tommy." Unfortunately, Springsteen meant to send his initial text to Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, and not Hanks. Oops!
Hanks also performed a slam poem about Full House. Watch his performance in the video below.
Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!
Jerry O'Connell joined Kimmel to promote his new Halloween special, Mockingbird Lane, which airs Friday on NBC. In the middle of the interview, O'Connell shared a story about how his Stand by Me costar Kiefer Sutherland helped him get to second base with a girl at the age of 13. "I'm there with my date, and my date says, 'Oh my gosh. That's Kiefer Sutherland.' He was just in The Lost Boys,'" O'Connell recalled. "I said to her, 'I know him. I was the husky kid in Stand by Me.'" And sure enough, Sutherland remembered O'Connell. "He was like, 'Oh yeah, I know you. You're the fat kid from Stand by Me,'" O'Connell said. "That night, I got to second base."
Late Show With David Letterman
Letterman had a big request for Taylor Swift Tuesday night: He wants Swift to write a song about him like she does with all of her ex-boyfriends. Swift quickly agreed as long as Letterman promised not to write an email afterwards with the subject line "Thoughts" — because she's gotten angry emails like that in the past.
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
Leno pointed out that Denzel Washington gained some weight for his new movie, Flight. "I got fat and floppy," Washington admitted. "The first scene you see him [his character, Whip Whitaker, he's half naked and gut hanging out, back side hanging out." That doesn't sound attractive! Washington also took part in a baseball trivia game.
Will Arnett talked to Conan O'Brien about the return of Arrested Development. "Let me put it this way, there are few people on this stage tonight who are a part of it," Arnett said as he looked at O'Brien. "I think we know who we are." And then Andy Richter added, "A few means more than two." Guess we will be seeing O'Brien and Richter in some Arrested scenes. Arnett also slammed his Arrested costar, Jason Bateman. "I love Jason," Arnett said. "He's great to work with. If there were a premium to be paid on bad ideas, I'd want drilling rights to his head." That sure was nice of Arnett.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.