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.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
Justin Timberlake, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Eva Longoria have all made it to the top of a sexy new magazine poll.
More than 50,000 readers of InStyle magazine took part in the magazine's annual Sexy Poll, choosing the stars to top categories like Sexiest Troubadour, Sexiest Girl Found On iTunes and Sexiest TV Cast.
Timberlake claimed the Troubadour prize, while Jolie and Pitt claimed 42 percent of the vote for Sexiest Too-Hot Twosome. Pitt also tied with pal George Clooney in the Sexiest Reasons to Spend $10 on a Movie category, and Jolie was a clear winner in the Sexiest Movie Star Whose Va-va-va-voom You'd Like to Borrow for a Night stakes.
Other winners included Daniel Craig (Tuxedo Trumps Skin), Longoria (Sexiest High-Fox-Factor TV Comedienne), Bloom (Sexiest Movie Hero) and Entourage star Adrian Grenier (Sexiest TV Funnyman).
Shakira, Beyonce Knowles and Carrie Underwood tied for the Sexiest Girl Found on iTunes prize, while the Sexiest Hottie Who Makes Your Sides Hurt from Laughing honor went to Ashton Kutcher and Vince Vaughn.
The cast of Grey's Anatomy claimed the Sexiest TV Cast award, while show stars Patrick Dempsey and Katherine Heigl claimed Sexiest High-Drama TV Hunk and Sexiest Siren on a Serious TV Show honors, respectively.
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Dimension Films' "Scream 3" made the weekend's biggest waves at the box office, holding on to first place despite 20th Century Fox's strong launch for Leonardo DiCaprio's "The Beach."
"Scream 3" took a hefty second weekend drop but still sliced off an estimated $16.40 million (-53%) at 3,467 theaters (theater count unchanged, $4,730 per theater). Its total is approximately $57.1 million.
In December 1997, "Scream 2's" second weekend gross of $13.9 million was down 58%. It went on to gross about $101.3 million in domestic theaters.
"It's actually a better drop than expected considering where we opened," Miramax Senior Vice President, Marketing, David Kaminow said Sunday morning. "Looking at 'Scream 2,' after 10 days, we were at $55 million. On 'Scream 3' after 10 days, we're at $57 million. So we're on a good track and feel good about that."
Directed by Wes Craven, "Scream 3" was produced by Cathy Konrad, Kevin Williamson and Marianne Maddalena. It reunites Craven with David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox Arquette and Liev Schreiber. Also starring are Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Matt Keeslar, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, Deon Richmond, Kelly Rutherford and Patrick Warburton.
Twentieth Century Fox's launch of its R-rated adventure drama "The Beach" washed ashore in second place with a high tide estimated $15 million at 2,546 theaters ($5,891 per theater).
Its per-theater average was the highest for any film in wide release last weekend.
Directed by Danny Boyle, "The Beach" stars DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen.
"It's good," Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning. "The audience was about 57% female and 43% male. Fifty-five percent of the audience was 18-25.
Everybody seems to be thrilled about it. No question, they came to see (DiCaprio) -- the biggest reason to go to the movie (according to exit polls). And young girls liked it the best.
"Everybody's happy (about it at Fox). Some people have asked me (about) it's not being No. 1. Well, when a movie does $34 million in its first week, (a film opening the next week) is not going to be No. 1. No. 1 is a wonderful thing, but it's not the wherewithal for a movie. There have been so many movies that haven't been No. 1 that have gone on to do a lot of business. Hopefully, this will be one of them."
Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' PG-rated comedy "Snow Day" opened in third place to a blizzard of ticket sales with an estimated $14.80 million at 2,664 theaters ($5,556 per theater).
"Snow Day" is directed by Chris Koch and stars Chevy Chase.
"I think it's phenomenal," Paramount Distribution President Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "It's way beyond where we thought it could get. I thought, maybe, $12 million would be our top simply because 'Tigger' was in the marketplace at the same time. And, really, nothing had ever done this kind (of business) -- you're talking $23-25 million between the two pictures."
There were differences between the two family films' audiences. "Snow," Lewellen said, was "a little bit older. Their picture, based on the research, really stopped at about 6 years old, and we could get to, like, 12- and 13-year-olds. Obviously, their being in the market affected us because they took some of the younger kids who were going to our film. But for the two pictures to do this level of business is just phenomenal."
Lewellen added that the marketplace expanded with two new family films opening: "I think, maybe, the two pictures had a synergy getting the people out. The younger people like to go see both movies.
Fourth place went to Disney's kickoff of its G-rated animated "The Tigger Movie" with a bouncy estimated $9.21 million at 2,723 theaters ($3,382 per theater). The film is the animated adventures of the familiar "Winnie the Pooh" character.
"I'm so happy," Buena Vista Distribution President Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "Based on everything that we felt, this is really at the upper end of the opening weekend projection. Next Monday is a holiday, and what historically happens is that whatever you do in the three days of this weekend you come right back and do in the four days of next weekend. When the end of the year rolls around, this movie will probably rank up there with some of the most profitable. Everything was done the right way, and it is going to be extremely profitable.
"What a wonderful weekend for general audience movies. 'Snow Day' did wonderfully. We did wonderfully. And, yet, if you look inside the numbers, we don't compete with each other. We're younger and a tad more female. We're 56% female. I'm sure if you looked inside 'Snow Day's' numbers, they'd be a little heavier male than female. We're really complementary to the marketplace."
Rounding out the Top Five was Universal's R-rated Oscar contender "The Hurricane," down three slots in its seventh week but still holding well with an estimated $3.61 million (-27%) at 2,078 theaters (-70 theaters, $1,735 per theater). Its total is approximately $42.4 million.
Directed by Norman Jewison, it stars recent Golden Globe winner Denzel Washington as wrongly imprisoned boxing champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's R-rated death row drama "The Green Mile" held on to sixth place in its 10th week with a still OK estimated $3.04 million (-24%) at 2,012 theaters (-323 theaters, $1,513 per theater). Its total is approximately $124.4 million, heading for $140 million in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Frank Darabont, it stars Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.
New Line's R-rated urban-appeal hit comedy sequel "Next Friday" dropped three slots to seventh place in its fifth week with a still respectable estimated $2.82 million (-34%) at 1,364 theaters (-56 theaters, $2,071 per theater). Its total is approximately $49.4 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it was written by, stars and was produced by Ice Cube.
Columbia's PG-rated family comedy "Stuart Little" finished eighth, down five pegs in its ninth week in the face of competition from two new family-appeal films with a less exciting estimated $2.70 million (-43%) at 2,351 theaters (-351 theaters, $1,148 per theater). Its total is approximately $132 million, heading for $140 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Rob Minkoff, it stars Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki.
"It's been having its own way for many weeks," Sony Pictures Releasing President Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "There's no question, both (new family) pictures gave us a hit. But we think we'll hang on, certainly past the $140 million mark and, I think, we'll get to the mid-$140 millions. We're still in 2,351 runs and although we'll lose some, there's a lot of interest in continuing to play this picture, especially over the holiday weekend coming up."
Looking ahead to the Oscar nominations Tuesday morning, Blake said, "It will be interesting to see what impact the Academy Award nominations have. Certainly, only the No. 5 and 6 pictures this week out of the Top Ten are interested in that result plus the re-release of 'American Beauty.' It certainly seems like the top four plus (the two films opening next weekend) 'Hanging Up' and 'The Whole Nine Yards' are all going to be pretty hard to get by.
"It does not look like the rewards are going to be immediate (for films with Oscar nominations) because it does look like kids and, hopefully, the women for us on 'Hanging Up' will rule things (next weekend). As I say, I think it's not necessarily going to be the Academy weekend next weekend. It looks like a lot of very entertaining (new or very recent) pi tures will probably be on top."
Blake said that "Hanging Up" will open at about 2,500 theaters. Directed by Diane Keaton, the PG-13-rated comedy stars Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, Lisa Kudrow and Walter Matthau.
DreamWorks' PG-rated sci-fi fantasy comedy "Galaxy Quest" was ninth, down two notches in its eighth week with a less exciting estimated $2.20 million (-34%) at 1,589 theaters (-350 theaters, $1,385 per theater). Its total is approximately $65.8 million, heading for about $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Dean Parisot, it stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Destination Films' R-rated psychological thriller "Eye Of the Beholder," down five rungs in its third week with a quiet estimated $2.11 million (-49%) at 1,583 theaters (-168, $1,331 per theater). Its total is approximately $15.1 million.
Directed by Stephan Elliott, it stars Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd. Destination reportedly picked up the independently made film for domestic release for about $4 million.
Last weekend saw the arrival of no other noteworthy openings.
Last weekend saw Warner Bros. hold national sneak previews Saturday night of Morgan Creek and Franchise Pictures' R-rated comedy "The Whole Nine Yards."
Directed by Jonathan Lynn, it stars Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry. It was written by Mitchell Kapner, produced by David Willis and Allan Kaufman and executive produced by Elie Samaha and Andrew Stevens.
"We had over 800 sneaks and polled more than half (of them)," Warner Bros. distribution executive Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning. "Of the theaters we polled, the reaction (was) 98% between good and excellent. On the capacity side, 95% were between 75% and 100% capacity. Those two pieces of information tell the whole story -- we had really good sneaks."
"Yards" opens Friday at more than 2,800 theaters.
On the expansion front, last weekend saw Buena Vista/Touchstone expand its R-rated Oscar contender thriller "The Sixth Sense" in its 28th week to be in the marketplace when Academy nominations are announced Tuesday morning. "Sense" placed 18th with a quiet estimated $1.04 million at 831 theaters (+611 theaters, $1,254 per theater). Its total is approximately $279.5 million.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, it stars Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.
USA Films R-rated drama "Topsy-Turvy" went wider in its eighth week, placing 20th with a quiet estimated $0.72 million at 223 theaters (+93 theaters, $3,240 per theater). Its total is approximately $3.2 million.
Written and directed by Mike Leigh, it stars Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner.
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R-rated drama "Titus" went a bit wider in its eighth week, placing 32nd with an OK estimated $0.11 million at 19 theaters (+2 theaters, $5,815 per theater). Its total is approximately $1 million.
Directed by Julie Taymor, it stars Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Allan Cumming.
USA Films' reissue of the PG-rated suspense/cop drama "Rear Window" widened slightly in its fourth week, placing 33rd with an OK estimated $0.10 million at 17 theaters (+2 theaters, $5,790 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.4 million.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it stars Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. Robert Harris and James Katz restored the 1954 film classic.
Fine Line Features' G-rated Oscar contender for Best Foreign Language Film, "The Cup," widened in its third week, placing 34th with an OK estimated $0.064 million at 12 theaters (+8 theaters, $5,330 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.2 million.
Directed by Khyentse Norbu, it is the story of attempts to hook up a satellite dish at a Tibetan monastery so its soccer fan monks can watch the 1998 World Cup matches.
Warner Bros. R-rated comedy "The Big Tease" expanded in its third week, placing 36th place with a quiet estimated $0.030 million at 10 theaters (+6 theaters, $2,855 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.1 million.
Directed by Kevin Allen, it stars Craig Ferguson and Frances Fisher.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend - took in approximately $84.17 million. Comparisons cannot be made to last year when the comparable weekend was the four-day Presidents Day holiday weekend.
This year, the four-day Presidents Day weekend is one week later (Feb. 18-21). This weekend's key film gross was down about 1.19% compared with the previous weekend when key films grossed $85.18 million.
Last year, Warner Bros.' opening week of "Message In A Bottle" was first with $18.85 million for four days at 2,538 theaters ($7,428 per theater) and Paramount's second week of "Payback" was second with $17.72 million at 2,751 theaters ($6,441 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $36.6 million for four days. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $31.4 million for three days.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films, last weekend's top six distributors were the following:
Miramax (Miramax, Dimension) was first with three films ("Scream 3," "Down To You" and "The Cider House Rules") grossing an estimated $19.5 million or 23.2% of the market.
Paramount was second with three films ("Snow Day," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Angela's Ashes") grossing an estimated $17.66 million or 21% of the market.
Twentieth Century Fox was third with one film ("The Beach") grossing an estimated $15 million or 17.8% of the market.
Buena Vista (Touchstone and Disney) was fourth with three films ("The Tigger Movie," "Toy Story 2" and "Fantasia 2000") grossing an estimated $12 million or 14.3% of the market.
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia, TriStar) was fifth with three films ("Stuart Little," "Girl, Interrupted" and "The End Of the Affair") grossing an estimated $4.75 million or 5.6% of the market.
Warner Bros. was sixth with two films ("The Green Mile" and "Any Given Sunday") grossing an estimated $3.76 million or 4.5% of the market.
(11) "Fantasia 2000"/BV/Disney: Theaters: 54 (0) (all IMAX in U.S.) Gross: $1.80 million (-6%) Average per theater: $33,333 Total: $27.4 million (worldwide)
(12) "The Talented Mr. Ripley"/Paramount/Miramax: Theaters: 1,266 (-563) Gross: $1.76 million (-29%) Average per theater: $1,390 Total: $78 million
(13) "The Cider House Rules"/Miramax: Theaters: 802 (-32) Gross: $1.60 million (-17%) Average per theater: $1,995 Total: $22.7 million
(14) "Down to You"/Miramax: Theaters: 1,719 (-284) Gross: $1.50 million (-45%) Average per theater: $872 Total: $18.5 million
(15) Girl, Interrupted/Columbia: Theaters: 1,380 (-483) Gross: $1.35 million (-47%) Average per theater: $978 Total: $27 million
(16) "Angela's Ashes"/Paramount: Theaters: 614 (0) Gross: $1.10 million (-28%) (tie) Average per theater: $1,792 Total: $10.2 million
(16) "Toy Story 2"/BV/Disney: Theaters: 1,249 (-339) Gross: $1.10 million (-53%) (tie) Average per theater: $816 Total: $238.6 million
(18) "The Sixth Sense"/BV/Touchstone: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(19) "Magnolia"/New Line: Theaters: 497 (-332) Gross: $0.85 million (-34%) Average per theater: $1,710 Total: $20.5 million
(20) "Topsy-Turvy"/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
21) "Any Given Sunday"/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,031 (-526) Gross: $0.72 million (-30%) Average per theater: $695 Total: $74.8 million
(22) "The End of the Affair"/Columbia: Theaters: 585 (-96) Gross: $0.70 million (-34%) Average per theater: $1,197 Total: $9.5 million
(23) "The World Is Not Enough"/MGM: Theaters: 768 (-74) Gross: $0.45 m illion (-30%) Average per theater: $590 Total: $125.8 million
(24) "Snow Falling on Cedars"/Universal: Theaters: 504 (-296) Gross: $0.40 million (-45%) Average per theater: $800 Total: $13.5 million
(25) "Gun Shy"/BV/Hollywood: Theaters: 296 (0) Gross: $0.37 million (-47%) Average per theater: $1,256 Total: $1.3 million
(26) "Being John Malkovich"/USA Films: Theaters: 173 (-34) Gross: $0.25 million (-21%) Average per theater: $1,440 Total: $21.6 million
(27) "Isn't She Great"/Universal: Theaters: 369 (-381) Gross: $0.20 million (-69%) Average per theater: $545 Total: $2.9 million
(28) "End of Days"/Universal: Theaters: 276 (-67) Gross: $0.17 million (-19%) Average per theater: $620 Total: $66.4 million
(29) "The Bone Collector"/Universal: Theaters: 294 (-35) Gross: $0.17 million (-20%) Average per theater: $580 Total: $66.0 million
(30) "Simpatico"/Fine Line: Theaters: 222 (-34) Gross: $0.16 million (-65%) Average per theater: $718 Total: $0.9 million
(31) "Man on the Moon"/Universal: Theaters: 322 (-161) Gross: $0.15 million (-42%) Average per theater: $450 Total: $34.4 million
(32) "Titus"/Fox Searchlight: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(33) "Rear Window"/USA: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(34) "The Cup"/Fine Line: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(35) "My Dog Skip"/Warner Bros. Theaters: 29 (-1) Gross: $0.060 million (-47%) Average per theater: $2,075 Total: $0.5 million
(36) "The Big Tease"/Warner Bros. (see EXPANSIONS above)