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.
With Lionsgate’s “The Last Exorcism” opening this weekend, a look back at cinema’s lasting love affair with the horror genre is in order. Retrospection confirms that movies that scare us are among the most consistently beloved (though rarely by critics) and revenue generating of all the various and sundry genres on the cinematic menu.
See the Hollywood.com review of "The Last Exorcism" by our own Thomas Leupp - 'The Last Exorcism' Movie Review
From the earliest days of cinema, audiences have been transfixed, intrigued, repulsed, amazed, and sometimes literally scared to death by films such as the 1922 release of “Nosferatu,” 1925’s “Phantom of the Opera,” starring Lon Chaney (wherein the reveal of Chaney’s disfigured face had women fainting and people running for the aisles), and into the classic period of the Universal Studios horror films of the ’30s and ’40s. Vampires, werewolves, mummies, invisible men, and Frankenstein’s monster helped create a cinematic language all its own and a canvas on which filmmakers could paint their spooky stories. Some of the finest movies of the time were steeped in horror fable and presented imagery that stretched the boundaries of the makeup and special effects of the time. James Whale’s 1935 classic “Bride of Frankenstein” was one of the first movie sequels and is acknowledged to be one of the best films (horror or otherwise) of all time.
Just as horror often reflects the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious, so the late ’50s brought the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation and the effects of radioactive contamination into the minds of the fear-laden masses, and this was reflected in the films of that era. The invasion of Earth by unwelcome and hostile creatures from other worlds, along with incredible shrinking men, giant-sized bugs and the occasional “Fly,” reflected the fears of the day and threw them back at the audience via the big screen. When Steve McQueen fought the red ooze that was “The Blob” in the 1958 horror classic, there was no question what “red scare” he was really fighting. (Possibly scarier for McQueen was that he was only paid $3,000 to appear in the film, and it went on to earn $4 million!)
The 1960s were no less important in terms of the genre’s influence and continued popularity with audiences. The 1968 filmed version of Ira Levin’s famed novel “Rosemary’s Baby,” as directed by Roman Polanski and starring the angelic 23-year-old Mia Farrow and legendary indie filmmaker/actor John Cassavetes, was a purely psychological affair, with nary a drop of blood or image of gore in sight. The movie, however, scared the living crap out of people and so affected moviegoers at the time that many claimed the baby had horns and a gruesome face and thus fueled many of their nightmares for weeks. (by the way, the baby is NEVER shown in the film.)
The spiritual progeny of that film came in the early ’70s with another and equally influential adaptation of a bestselling novel. In 1973, “The Exorcist” had people lining up around the block at movie theaters and had the nation and box office abuzz. Written by William Peter Blatty (who also penned the screenplay), the William Friedkin-directed film was a slow-burn masterpiece and used the almost sadistic ratcheting up of the level of dread in the film to drive the audience mad. It worked, and as pea-soup sales took a nosedive, the film (released ironically enough on the day after Christmas) became the highest-grossing film of that year with a massive unadjusted gross of $165 million and a national phenomenon. Films like “The Last Exorcism” and 2005’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” have their cinematic DNA rooted in films like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist.”
The late-’70s and the 1980s saw the introduction of the sequel-spawning/slasher/teen-killing/money-making horror films such as “Halloween,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th.” In one fell swoop, the genre eschewed the psychologically driven horror of the early ’70s in favor of blood, guts and boobs. The formula worked, and Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger became the new Frankenstein, Wolfman and Dracula to a nation of bloodthirsty teens. Even in the late-2000’s, updated versions of these new horror classics thrive at the box office with Warner Bros.’ “A Nightmare on Elm Street” achieving number one with a whopping $32.9 million debut weekend back in April of this year.
The 1990s saw two types of horror co-existing and thriving. First, the R-rated mash-up of comedy and horror that would become the incredibly successful “Scream” franchise captivated audiences looking to laugh as much as they screamed. At a midnight screening of the film two full months before its intended release at the ShowEast movie convention in October of 1996, a theater full of recruited high school kids went absolutely insane as Drew Barrymore’s character was teased, taunted and tortured by a voice on the phone in the opening scene. After working the audience into a squirming, giggling and orgiastic frenzy, the film delivered the payoff of Drew being eviscerated by her killer. The audience members were hooked and like teens on the scariest roller-coaster in the theme park, they wanted to take that ride over and over again. With domestic box office reaching $103 million, the film became appropriately enough, the 13th-highest-grossing film released in 1996.
Three years later, a completely different kind of horror movie shook audiences to their core and elevated the twist ending to high art. Newcomer M. Night Shyamalan quietly delivered “The Sixth Sense” to an unsuspecting public and at the same time reintroduced the thrill of psychological horror to the late-’90s masses. The film, starring Bruce Willis in a total career-changer, grossed a massive and unexpected $293.5 million in domestic receipts alone and was the second-highest-grossing film released in 1999, behind only the most anticipated movie in two decades…wait for it…”Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace,” which grossed a jaw-dropping $431.1 million.
Now onto the 2000s or as some might call it, the decade that introduced the beast that has become known as “torture porn.” Ushered in with great success by Lionsgate with the first “Saw” film in 2004 and further expanded upon by the “Hostel” films and the lesser-known 2005 release “Wolf Creek,” this sub-genre allowed moviegoers to exorcise their own demons through the viewing of other humans being tortured, dismembered and killed in all manner of clever and innovative ways. The twisted and cathartic nature of these films evidently struck a strong chord with audiences and has given the “Saw” franchise life for the past six years and generated an average opening gross for the first six films of a staggering $26.6 million.
This abbreviated history of the horror genre was inspired in part by last year’s success of the unlikely box-office juggernaut that was “Paranormal Activity.” Shot on a shoestring budget with virtually zero production value, the film became arguably the most profitable film of all time and is a film-school marketing course unto itself. Simple Formula: $11,000 budget, plus viral marketing, plus tons of press coverage, plus a total domestic gross of over $108 million, multiplied by a movie that actually delivers on the promise of a major subconscious mind-f&*king, equals the box-office horror story of the decade. Of course the sequel will be released by Paramount on October 22 followed by Lionsgate’s “Saw VII” on perfectly enough, Halloween weekend.
With “The Last Exorcism” expected to top the box office this weekend its is frighteningly clear that the horror genre is here to stay and as it was decades ago, it is today: audiences love to have the crap scared out of them in the spooky confines of a darkened movie theatre.
The director's latest re-imagining of A Nightmare On Elm Street, about a disfigured madman who murders teens in their dreams, killed competition at the U.S. box office last weekend (30Apr-02May10), debuting at the top spot.
And now Warner Bros. bosses are plotting Krueger's next outing.
Distribution president Dan Fellman tells TheWrap.com: "We don't have a story yet, but this is the largest horror opening in the April-May corridor, and it just proves there's a lot left in the franchise."
Jackie Earle Haley took over the role original Kreuger Robert Englund made famous for the latest remake. Casting has yet to be announced for the 3D venture - which will mark the 11th movie in the slasher franchise.
Warner Bros. today released online the new trailer for A Nightmare on Elm Street that ran before showings of Clash of the Titans in theaters last weekend. "New" is a rather generous label, seeing as how the latest clip mostly features images recycled from the previous trailer, and is arguably less revealing than its predecessor, story-wise. Call it a remix, if you will.
See for yourself:
A Nightmare on Elm Street stars Jackie Earle Haley and a much of pretty young faces, most of whom will presumably perish on-screen in deliciously gruesome fashion. Hopefully. It opens April 30, 2010.
Jackie Earle Haley has quickly established a niche for himself as an expert at playing violent, mentally unhinged characters with gravelly voices and faces obscured by masks or disfigurements. Most recently, he can be seen plying his unique specialty in Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island. Next up, he plays the iconic deep-fried, sweater-clad tormentor of vapid, attractive teenagers, Freddy Krueger, in the much-anticipated horror remake A Nightmare on Elm Street. Check out the latest trailer from the film, released this week:
A Nightmare on Elm Street opens April 30, 2010.
Source: WENN and Aint it Cool
Some good and bad news for the new Ryan Reynolds comic-book superhero movie, Green Lantern. We'll start first with the bad news which is a probable delay in production.
According to WENN, spiralling costs have forced studio bosses to scrap plans to film in Australia. Production was due to start on April 10th but the studio was hit hard by the recent strength of the Australian dollar. The currency conversion would push the film over its $100 million budget, leaving Warner Bros. little choice but to scrap the start date and find another location. The setback looks likely to affect the movie's scheduled June 2011 release date.
On the good rumor front, Aint it Cool is reporting that the very awesome Jackie Earle Haley is the frontrunner to play the villian Sinestro in Green Lantern. Haley who was fantastic as Rorschach in Watchmen, stars as Freddy Krueger in the new A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot which hits theaters on April 30, 2010. You can see the teaser trailer here
Green Lantern is directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale)
Today MySpace debuted the new trailer for Warner Bros.’ Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, featuring Watchmen star Jackie Earle Haley in the role of the iconic sweater-clad villain, Freddy Krueger. Watch it below:
There you have it: lots of pretty faces, stylized dream sequences and a brief, tantalizing glimpse of Freddy. Not bad, save perhaps for Haley’s awkward-sounding delivery of his line at the end. But we’ll reserve judgment until we see more.
A Nightmare on Elm Street opens April 30, 2010.
MORE MOVIE NEWS: Theatrical Trailer for The Book of Eli
In space no one can hear you snap a neck.
The last we saw of Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, the hockey-masked maniac seemed destined for a bloody showdown with Freddy Krueger.
That's no longer the case. In its second attempt to revive the aging Friday the 13th franchise, New Line rips off Alien by blasting Jason into outer space some 450 years in the future. Rather than terrorize the horny teens of Camp Crystal Lake, Jason now stalks the horny crew of a research vessel that had the misfortune to thaw out the cryogenically frozen murderer.
Jason X represents the 10th chapter in a series that can't be killed, much like its infamous antagonist. You could count on an annual visit to Camp Crystal Lake in the 1980s, but the series quickly experienced diminishing returns. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, released in 1989, opened with an OK $6.2 million but soon faded out with a total $14.3 million.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the sole Friday the 13th offering of the 1990s and the first from New Line, fared no better. The ninth Friday the 13th, released in 1993, earned just $15.5 million.
The change in hunting grounds, coupled with Jason's high-tech modifications, should result in the best gross for the series since 1984's erroneously titled Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter ($32.6 million). It also helps in this post-Scream era that Jason X has a much-needed sense of humor about itself. Debuting at 1,800 theaters, Jason X should match Jason Goes to Hell's $7.5 million opening.
A quick death, though, is certain. Jason X, which sat on the shelf for one year, won't buck the trend of losing half its audience in its second weekend, as most horror films endure. Blade 2, which has $77.8 million through Wednesday, is a good example of that.
Besides, there are only so many people who find pleasure in the monotony of watching Jason kill, die, return to life, kill, die, return to life ...
Talking of makeovers, a blonde Angelina Jolie tries her hand at comedy with Life Or Something Like It. She stars as a TV reporter who believes that she has one week left to live.
Jolie's not known for her comic timing, although last year's disastrous Original Sin did generate its fair share of unintentional laughs. Her last true attempt at comedy, 1999's Pushing Tin, earned a pitiful $8.4 million.
Yet Life Or Something Like It arrives at a time when other actresses seem content on kicking butt than making people smile. Plus, Jolie offers relief for those not amused by the body counts amassed in The Scorpion King and Jason X.
Life Or Something Like It will clearly lure audiences away from Cameron Diaz's sour The Sweetest Thing ($18 million through Wednesday).
Accordingly, Life Or Something Like It should enjoy a modest $10 million opening but stick around until About a Boy opens May 17.
Jolie also could beat Sandra Bullock at her own game. Bullock seems to excel in similarly goofy comedies--such as While You Were Sleeping--but doesn't have what it takes to keep crime off the streets.
Bullock's Murder By Numbers opened last weekend with a disappointing $9.3 million and has $11.3 million through Wednesday. Audiences could be tired of female-driven thrillers, given that Murder By Numbers arrived so soon after Jodie Foster's Panic Room ($83.1 million through Wednesday) and Ashley Judd's High Crimes ($31.7 million through Wednesday). Also, director Barbet Schroeder's thriller--pitting cop Bullock against two teens convinced they have committed the perfect murder--isn't half as clever as he thinks it is.
Bullock will have a couple of chances to bounce back this year when she appears in the comedies Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Two Weeks Notice with Oscar date Hugh Grant.
The Scorpion King's reign as the nation's No. 1 film should continue this weekend, but will definitely come to an end next weekend when Spider-Man swings into theaters.
If the intention behind The Scorpion King is to turn pro-wrestler The Rock into the next action hero, then this Mummy spin-off will succeed without question. The Scorpion King shattered April's opening records by debuting with a summer-like $36 million. The Matrix previously held the record with a $27.7 million opening weekend.
Neither prequel nor sequel, The Scorpion King's opening came somewhat close to The Mummy's $43.3 million debut in May 1999. The Rock's fleeting appearance in The Mummy Returns no doubt helped the sequel to open with $68.1 million and earn a total $202 million.
Given that its inspiration lies more with Conan the Barbarian than The Mummy, The Scorpion King won't rival its predecessor's $155.2 million total. The sword-and-sorcery epic is bloodier than The Mummy and doesn't boast as many breathtaking CGI-created scenes. Still, The Rock can look forward to a possible $100 million hit.
The Scorpion King did not force Changing Lanes to screech to a halt. The psychological thriller, with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson locking horns after a traffic accident, slowed by a respectable 35 percent in its second weekend, from $17.1 million to $11 million. With $34.9 million through Wednesday, Changing Lanes is on course to hit $50 million.
A couple of veterans continue their solid runs. The animated Ice Age, the year's biggest hit thus far, has $160.5 million through Wednesday. The Rookie dropped just 20 percent in its fourth weekend, from $8 million to $6.4 million, and has $54.7 million through Wednesday.
Frailty, however, is the victim of its wide release. The acclaimed religiously themed thriller, directed by Bill Paxton, needed time to cultivate an audience. Instead, Frailty hit too many theaters at one time. The result: a weak $7.8 million in two weekends, through Sunday.
Going the art house route would have helped Frailty, as it has for several other small films that otherwise would have gotten lost among the likes of The Scorpion King and Changing Lanes. Tying the knot allowed Monsoon Wedding to earn $7.1 million through Sunday and My Big Fat Greek Wedding to debut with $597,632. Y Tu Mama Tambien and Kissing Jessica Stein, respectively, have $5.8 million and $5 million through Sunday.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring continues to work its magic. Peter Jackson's epic hit $306.9 million on Sunday to supplant Independence Day ($306.1 million) at No. 10 on the list of the top domestic earners. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring could conceivably climb higher: Return of the Jedi is at No. 9 with $309.2 million, while The Lion King, at No. 8, has $312.8 million.