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.
Top Story: Teri Hatcher Splits From Hubby
Actress Teri Hatcher has filed for divorce from her husband of nearly nine years, actor Jon Tenney, Reuters reports. According to court papers, Hatcher, 38, cited irreconcilable differences for ending her marriage to Tenney, 41. The couple has agreed to share custody of their 5-year-old daughter, who will live with Hatcher. The actress is best known for her role as Lois Lane in the ABC series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which ran from 1993 to 1997. Tenney's screen credits include You Can Count On Me, Fools Rush In, Beverly Hills Cop III and the short-lived CBS cop series Brooklyn South.
Aguilera Fit for Versace
Raunchy pop singer Christina Aguilera is set to become the new face of Italian label Versace. Donatella Versace told Reuters her new outfits were inspired by Aguilera's singing and dancing. (The Italian designer said exactly the same of Britney Spears, who was guest of honor at the spring/summer collection show) "I watch the videos of Christina and I always die," Versace said. Not only has Aguilera moved into Spears' front-row seat at Versace, she will also be co-headlining a summer concert tour, Justified and Stripped, with Spears' ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake.
Cher Victim of Wig Larceny
Cher's production company has reported that a wig valued at $8-10,000 was stolen from the singer's collection of faux tresses during a Feb. 25 concert stop in Richmond, Virginia. Cher took off the wig, described as a braided half-black and half-teal number, after singing "All Or Nothing" and put it in a room where her other wigs were stored, police spokeswoman Christie Collins told Reuters. Larry W. Wilson Jr., general manager of the Richmond Coliseum, said, "We're still not 100 percent sure the wig was stolen out of our facility."
Son of "The Pianist" Releases Father's Songs
Andrzej Szpilman, whose father Wladyslaw Szpilman is the focus of Roman Polanski's Oscar-nominated film The Pianist, has spearheaded an album of his father's love songs, pop classics in Poland from the 1940s and 1950s, titled Wendy Lands Sings the Music of the Pianist--Wladyslaw Szpilman, Reuters reports. Famous in prewar Poland for his film scores and popular songs, Wladyslaw Szpilman performed Polish radio's last live music broadcast on Sept. 23, 1939, as German shells knocked out the station's power. When Radio Warsaw resumed broadcasting in 1945, it picked up exactly where it left off--with Szpilman playing the same Chopin nocturne he performed in 1939. He wrote his story down following the war, and it was published in 1946. The memoir was then banned by communist authorities and forgotten until it was reissued, due to his son's insistence, shortly before Wladyslaw Szpilman's death in 2000.
Role Call: Julianne Moore; Ashley Judd; Scary Movie 3; Molly Shannon
Variety reports...Double Oscar nominee Julianne Moore has signed on to star in the supernatural thriller The Forgotten for Columbia Pictures, with Return to Paradise helmer Joseph Ruben set to direct. Moore will play a grieving mother coping with the loss of her 8-year-old son when she is told by her psychiatrist that she created eight years of memories of a son she never had. Ashley Judd is negotiating to join Kevin Kline in De-Lovely, the Cole Porter biopic that Irwin Winkler is directing for United Artists. The pic will shoot in London starting May 5, giving Judd time to make the film and be back to begin rehearsals to play Maggie the Cat in a Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Old School's Jeremy Piven will join Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards in the third installment of Dimension Films' horror-spoof franchise Scary Movie 3. The studio has set an Oct. 3 release date for the film, which begins shooting this month in Canada. Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon has inked a deal to star in Fox's primetime comedy pilot Cracking Up. She will star as the mother of a crazy Beverly Hills family that takes in a psychology grad student.