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.
Top Story: Schwarzenegger Must Repay Campaign Loans
Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster ruled Monday that by borrowing more than $4.5 million to finance his run for governor in last October's recall election, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had broken a state law restricting candidates from accepting personal loans of more than $100,000 for their campaigns and would therefore have to repay the money. According to Reuters, an upbeat Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that he would pay $4.5 million on top of the $5 million he already spent to be elected. "The $4.5 million we got loaned from the bank, I always intended to pay that back myself, so it was a great decision," Schwarzenegger said. "We never wanted to raise the money to pay it back. I myself pay for that." When campaigning last fall, the Republican governor rallied against special-interest donations and attacked his opponents, including his Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, for taking donations from unions and Indian tribes with casino interests. At the time, Schwarzenegger argued he would not have to depend on outside money to finance his campaign because he was independently wealthy.
Halle Berry OK After Set Accident
Halle Berry, who broke her arm last year while shooting Gothika in Montreal and injured her eye on the set of the James Bond actioner Die Another Day, was injured once again on the set, this time while working shooting a scene for her the comic book adventure pic Catwoman. Production spokesman Joe Everett told The Associated Press Tuesday that Berry was taken to a hospital after colliding with a piece of set equipment while filming a running scene, but is now back at work. "She had to maneuver past a piece of equipment, a set piece and she didn't quite run past it, but she's just fine," he said. "She was taken to hospital Saturday night, treated and released and was at work again Monday morning."
Faith Evans and Husband Arrested
R&B singer Faith Evans and her husband, record executive Todd Russaw, were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana and booked at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, the AP reports, but a spokeswoman at the Hapeville Police Department would give no details Wednesday morning. The 30-year-old singer received a Grammy nod for her duet "Can't Believe" with Carl Thomas from her 2001 album, Faithfully and has worked with Whitney Houston and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who signed Evans to his Bad Boy label and produced her first album. Evans was previously married to Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., who was killed in a drive-by shooting in March 1997.
Swept Away Lawsuit Surges Forward
A lawsuit in which self-described singer, songwriter, director and actor Vincent D'Onofrio (not the actor of the same name from NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent) accuses Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, of stealing the idea for 2002's Swept Away remake will go to court May 4, the AP reports. D'Onofrio sued Madonna, Ritchie and Sony Pictures in Superior Court in October 2002, claiming he pitched the idea for a remake of the 1975 Italian comedy to Madonna in April 1997 and had several meetings with her and Ritchie--who then cut him out of the credits and compensation. Attorneys for the couple have said D'Onofrio has no proof of a contract with Madonna or Sony. D'Onofrio is seeking$10 million in damages.
Kelly Osbourne Gets ABC Pilot
Kelly Osbourne is going from reality TV to scripted fare with ABC's drama pilot Doing It. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series, based on British author Melvin Burgess' controversial young-adult novel of the same name, centers on the sexual antics of three 16-year-old Seattle boys: Dino (Sean Farris), Jonathan (Chris Lowell) and Ben (Jon Foster). Osbourne will play Jonathan's love interest. Osbourne and her father, Ozzy, recently topped the U.K. singles chart with a cover of Changes, a single Ozzy originally recorded with Black Sabbath. The third season of the MTV reality series The Osbournes premiered Tuesday night.
Mandy Moore Nixes Reality Show
While some in Hollywood embrace the concept of having their private lives broadcast on TV, others refuse to warm up to the idea, including singer/actress Mandy Moore. "I love watching reality shows, but I would never want to be in or on a reality show," Moore told AP Radio. Moore, who is dating tennis star Andy Roddick, says her life just isn't exciting enough for people to tune in. She also added that a behind-the-scenes show about Roddick would also never happen. "It was supposed to be like a documentary or something at first, and then someone kind of took that and ran with it and it kind of snowballed out of context," Moore said, adding that if someone close to her were in such a show, she wouldn't stick around long enough to be in it.
Nick Lachey Joins ABC
MTV's other reality series, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, seems to have also launched the careers of pop stars Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey into network territory. Lachey, formerly of boy band 98 Degrees, has sealed a six-figure deal with ABC, following in the footsteps of Simpson, who is already developing a sitcom with the network. Under the deal, Lachey will be placed in one of ABC's sitcom pilots as well as in a music or variety special, Variety reports. Network insiders said it's possible ABC may even pair the Simpson and Lachey projects back-to-back, perhaps as part of the "TGIF" franchise. ABC recently announced plans for the newlyweds to host a modern-day Sonny and Cher-style variety show sometime this spring.