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.
Last week, it was revealed that the upcoming Men in Black 3 would shake up tradition and not feature a rap from Mr. Fresh Prince aka star Will Smith—but it wouldn't quite do away with the musical keystone either. Taking on the alien-infused hip-hop duties from Smith was it-performer Pitbull, who, like his rapper/actor predecessor, delivers equal doses charisma and melody into his pop chart hits. But the question reamined: could a newcomer really maintain the danceability and silliness that made the original 1999 hit "Men in Black" a huge hit?
Now, Sony has released the singer's Men in Black single "Back in Time," which gives Smith's late '90s tie-in masterpiece a run for its money (and washes away any bad tastes left over from Men in Black 2's "Black Suits Comin'"). The song, written by Pitbull (aka Armando C. Perez), Marc Kinchen, Adrian Trejo and Urales Vargas, features a sample of the 1950s R&B hit "Love is Strange" by Mickey & Sylvia and plenty of plot-informed references (in the movie Smith's J travels back-in-time to save the life of his partner K).
Listen to the single in the player below, and begin speculation on whether or not Huey Lewis and the News should sue Pitbull for stealing the title of their Back to the Future tie-in song of the same!
What say you? Find Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and remember to follow @Hollywood_com!
In the spirit of the Fourth of July, Hollywood.com has put together a list of fifty movies with the word "America" in the title. Movies that have truly exemplified what our country is about. Movies that have made us appreciate our history and freedom. Movies about love, passion, overcoming obstacles... and a talking can of vegetable soup
AIR AMERICA Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. debate the morality of flying drugs to Laos during the Vietnam War
AMERICA, AMERICA A Greek kid loses a lot of money and wants to come to the U.S.
AMERICA’S SWEETHEARTS Julia Roberts and John Cusack like each other
THE AMERICAN George Clooney is involved with assassinry
AN AMERICAN AFFAIR A young kid works in the Kennedy era for a woman who has great semblance to Marilyn Monroe
AMERICAN ANTHEM Some girl convinces a retired gymnast to do gymnastics again
AMERICAN BEAUTY Kevin Spacey wants to sleep with a teenager; his neighbor films litter
THE AMERICAN CAN Will Smith’s upcoming film on Hurricane Katrina
AN AMERICAN CAROL Michael Moore and Charles Dickens are treated with contempt
AMERICAN COWSLIP They actually misspelled “loser” in the trailer for this movie
AN AMERICAN CRIME Catherine Keener holds Juno hostage for some reason
AN AMERICAN DREAM Police and gangsters pursue a murderous talk show host
AMERICAN DREAMER A writer goes to Paris and becomes delusional
AMERICAN DREAMZ A misguided melding of terrorism and televised singing competitions
AMERICAN FLYERS Kevin Costner and his crazy brother ride bikes in the mountains
AMERICAN FUSION A Chinese immigrant with a crazy family falls for a Mexican doctor
AMERICAN GANGSTER Denzel Washington gets rich doing bad things
AMERICAN GIGOLO Richard Gere paves the way for Rob Schneider’s career
AMERICAN GRAFFITI The 60s were better than other times
AMERICAN HISTORY X Edward Norton is a pretty big racist for a while
AMERICAN IDIOT They’re making the Green Day album into a movie now
AMERICAN OUTLAWS Colin Farrell is a very modernized Jesse James
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Gene Kelly is involved in a love triangle, for a change
AMERICAN PIE A bunch of kids try to lose their virginities
AMERICAN PIE 2 Those same kids get a house on Lake Michigan
AMERICAN PIE 3 / AMERICAN WEDDING The main kid gets married to the girl who started as a one-off joke
AMERICAN PIE 4 / AMERICAN REUNION One of the kids is probably going to get caught in a compromising position
THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT President Michael Douglas loves Lobbyist Annette Bening
AMERICAN PSYCHO Christian Bale wears suits, likes Huey Lewis, and kills people
AMERICAN SPLENDOR Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar in the cartoonist’s biopic… which also stars Harvey Pekar
AMERICAN STRAYS Ten nut jobs drive through the Midwest; there’s a lot of killing
AN AMERICAN SUMMER Modern reimagining of Tom Sawyer, sort of
AMERICAN TABOO A photographer prefers to take pictures than to talk to people
AN AMERICAN TAIL Fievel makes us all believe in hope
AMERICAN VIOLET A black single mom is racially-profiled for dealing drugs in Texas
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON There’s an American werewolf in London
BIRDS OF AMERICA Matthew Perry’s siblings are out of their minds
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Skinny Brooklynite will become the ultimate soldier and save the world
COMING TO AMERICA Eddie Murphy in whiteface tells a joke about spoons
IN AMERICA Family of Irish immigrants adjust to American life
KIDS IN AMERICA Claire Dumphy is an unreasonable high school principal who incurs the wrath of her students
KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL Abigail Breslin proves that all kids are smarter than all adults
KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL AMERICAN Ronald Reagan makes the most parodied movie speech ever
THE LAST AMERICAN HERO Jeff Bridges drives past and makes his own liquor
THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN A group of friends fight, do drugs, have sex, and maybe learn a little something
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA Robert DeNiro plays against type as a conflicted gangster
TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE Puppets fight al Qaeda, Kim Jong Il, and Matt Damon
THE QUIET AMERICAN Michael Caine is a reporter in the adaptation of a book I was supposed to read in college
THE UGLY AMERICAN Marlon Brando goes to Southeast Asia and takes offense to Communism
WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER Christopher Meloni fondles is sweaters
HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 15, 2000 – Julia Roberts revoluntonizes?! The Hollywood Reporter says today that Revolution Studios, headed by former Disney top brass Joe Roth, has bought the tentatively titled "Project 3," a psycho thriller that would star Julia Roberts.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, who worked with Roberts on the upcoming "The Mexican," the film is said to be similar to the story of "Gaslight," where a man tries to drive his wife insane.
SPIKE TV: Director Spike Lee will direct "A Huey P. Newton Story" for BET cable channel. The TV flick, starring Roger Guenveur Smith in the title role, will chronicle the life of Smith, the late co-founder of the Black Panther Party.
Before this, Lee has directed one other project for television, "Freak" with John Leguizamo for HBO in 1998.