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.
You'd think that the set of a movie like Human Centipede III would be a botanical garden of friendship and cooperation. But trouble is brewing in production of Tom Six’s third spine-melding horror. Deiter Laser, star of the first movie, was set to return to his “mad doctor” role in the upcoming threequel. However, it appears that HC3 doesn’t live up to the artistic standards of the original — Laser has opted out of playing the role as it stands, breaching his contract.
Screenread published the following statement by Laser:
“It’s very simple: I loved the story when it was told, got the contract and the promise to have the script in 4 to 6 weeks. When it arrived — half a year later and only after the official announcement — I didn’t like the realization at all, couldn’t identify with the character the way it was written and developed immediately and enthusiastically in a day and night marathon a version full of concrete and practical suggestions which would enable me to play the lead full throttle — same procedure as with Dr. Heiter — but this time it also would have had some unavoidable effects to the dramatic structure. That was too much for Tom and since he couldn’t live with my suggestions and I as a method actor couldn’t identify with his version, I told him that I couldn’t see any other way than that he would have to 'change horses.' That’s it.”
Laser does have a point. As a method actor, it is unreasonable to expect him to sew together over five hundred actual people to get in character for this new film.
Producer Ilona Six, sister of director Tom stated, “Because of the success of The Human Centipede, it seems that Mr. Dieter Laser’s ego has grown to laughably big proportions. First signing the contract and rating the Human Centipede III script as fantastic, and then demanding his own unacceptable script changes, and now refusing to play the part only seven weeks prior to shooting. Six Entertainment Company will start legal action against Dieter Laser. Tom Six says not to worry—principal photography will be postponed and will take place later this year.”
That kind of attitude is promising for all of those eagerly (although probably very secretly) awaiting the final installment of the series. There is nothing that will stop the Six family from sewing people together. That's dedication.
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