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.
George Clooney has finally decided to leave the planet, giving men everywhere hope that they can one day take his place as the most charming man on earth. The actor is set to star in the upcoming film, Gravity, alongside Sandra Bullock, to be directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
Clooney replaces Robert Downey Jr. (the world's second most charming man) in the role of a team leader of a space station. Bullock plays his counter, a mother, and they're both placed as the sole survivors when the space station is destroyed by an asteroid's debris field. Also, probably at some point in the film, they do it.
Anyway, currently Clooney is directing and starring in The Ides of March, an adaptation of the play by Beau Willimon. Ryan Gosling is co-starring and he is, of course, the world's third most charming man.
In another overhaul of major elements, The Tourist is facing yet another shift in its casting and direction.
With the lead female role recently moving from Charlize Theron to Angelina Jolie, the lead male character now looks as if it may be played by Johnny Depp. That's after the previously attached Tom Cruise dropped out and was replaced by Sam Worthington. Further, the director's chair, recently said to go to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, now has Alfonso Cuaron circling.
Worthington reportedly exited along with von Donnersmarck over creative differences.
The film is heading towards a February production start. Graham King's GK Films is financing and distributing through his deal with Sony.
A while back, the remake of the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer had Bharat Nalluri directing and Cruise and Theron attached. Worthington came into focus with Theron after Cruise took Knight and Day at Fox. Von Donnersmarck then came into the picture with Jolie.
Depp enters the frame via King, with whom he has a close relationship, most recently collaborating on Rum Diary and the Gore Verbinski-directed animated pic Rango.
The Tourist sees a female Interpol agent rope an everyman American tourist visiting France into becoming bait in the hunt for a wanted criminal who's also her former lover.