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.
McCartney to perform at Super Bowl halftime show
Former Beatle Paul McCartney is expected to headline the Super Bowl halftime show this February, The Associated Press reports. After the controversy over last year's halftime show, CBS and the National Football League are taking extra precautions to ensure that this year's halftime show goes on as planned. At Houston's Reliant Stadium last Feb. 1, pop star Justin Timberlake exposed singer Janet Jackson's right breast to a TV audience of over 90 million people. CBS is still protesting the FCC's fine of $550,000 for last year's halftime show incident. McCartney has performed at two other Super Bowl games in the past, giving NFL executives a much better feeling about the outcome of his performance. "We are extremely pleased to work again with Paul McCartney, one of the greatest musicians of our time, to create a memorable show," said Steve Bornstein, the NFL's executive vice president of media.
New York TV network rejects promotion of Kinsey
New York TV station WNET has rejected the promotion of the controversial upcoming movie Kinsey, deeming it "too commercial and too provocative." According to the AP, the PBS station does not air commercials, but instead replaces them with "enhanced underwriting spots" that advertise upcoming movies. Fox Searchlight Pictures, which is distributing the movie about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, is shocked at being censored in a state as liberal as New York. "New York is the most sophisticated city in the country," said Nancy Utley, marketing chief for Fox Searchlight. "It would never occur to me that a censorship issue would come up in New York." The introduction of Kinsey has gained negative attention from conservative groups around the nation, blaming the researcher for inspiring the sexual revolution. CNN has agreed to air the commercials as well as have stations in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.
Seinfeld's famous puffy shirt on display at the Smithsonian
The unfashionable, puffy shift worn by comedian Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of the Emmy Award winning '90s TV show Seinfeld has been put up for display at the Smithsonian, the AP reports. Alongside Archie Bunker's chair and Dorothy's ruby red slippers, the puffy shirt worn in just one episode of the show is now being remembered for being an unforgettable piece of wardrobe. In the 66th episode of the "show about nothing," Jerry agrees as a favor to wear the goofy blouse during an interview on the Today show. The white shirt was designed by Seinfeld's costume designer, Charmaine Simmons. Now considered an icon, the puffy shirt goes down in Smithsonian history as a memorable piece of American pop culture.
Jim Carrey lives a drug-free life
Actor and comedian Jim Carrey says he's quit all drugs. In an interview that aired Sunday with CBS' 60 Minutes, Carrey told reporter Steve Kroft that his reliance on the anti-depressant Prozac, never cured his depression. "I had to get off at a certain point because I realized that ... everything is just OK," said Carrey. Carrey now lives his life without any drugs or alcohol. "I rarely drink coffee. I am very serious about no alcohol, no drugs," he said. "Life is too beautiful." Carrey's film credits include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Mask.
Prosecution cracks down on defense in Jackson case
The prosecution in the Michael Jackson child molestation case is accusing the defense of abusing their rights under the judicial system, the AP reports. The defense is being accused of demanding medical records from the alleged victim and his family. Prosecutors have expressed their disapproval by adding that the defense "has grossly abused the process of the court" by requesting information that violated privacy right of the alleged victim and his family that "could not possibly lead to evidence relevant." The response from Jackson's defense team could not immediately be made public. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to a young boy. The trial is scheduled to being on Jan. 31.
Vanilla Ice expected to be reunited with his wallaroo and goat
Bucky Buckaroo the wallaroo and Pancho the goat will soon be reunited with their owner, rapper Vanilla Ice. According to the Associated Press, the animals escaped their Florida home before being captured on Nov. 13 after scratching a woman's car. The animals are now in the custody of an exotic animal breeder until fines of $220 are paid to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "I'm pretty shocked at all this attention," he said. "They get more attention here than they do at home." Vanilla Ice, born Robert van Winkle, is best known for his 1990 hit, "Ice Ice, Baby." Recently he has appeared on the WB's reality show, The Surreal Life.
Record producer songwriter Terry Melcher dead at age 62
According to his publicist, record producer and songwriter Terry Melcher lost his battle with melanoma on Saturday. At age 62, Melcher was best known for his work with The Beach Boys, The Byrds and The Mamas and the Papas. Melcher also led a productive solo career in addition to producing his mother Doris Day's CBS shows, The Doris Day Show and Doris Day's Best Friends. Melcher's name was also linked to the 1969 Charles Manson murders after turning Manson down for a record contract. The Los Angeles police department denied rumors that Melcher was one of Manson's targets.
Hole frontwoman Courtney Love is suing her boyfriend's ex-wife. Her claim? That she's being stalked.
In the lawsuit, Love claims that Lesley Barber, the ex-wife of Geffen Records exec Jim Barber, allegedly tried to mow her down with her Volvo and threatened to burn her house down during a "20-month campaign of stalking."
The incident involving Barber's Volvo resulted in an injury to Love's foot when Barber ran over it with her car. The alleged attack on June 4 cost Love an acting part in the sci-fi thriller "John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars" and her $500,000 payment.
BRIDGING THE GENERATION GAP: Will the Material Mom and the queen of teen pop really get to sing together? That's what Sonicnet.com is reporting. According to a source familiar with the project, Britney Spears and Madonna will hit the studio in May. Spears' next album is scheduled to be in stores by early summer, meaning their collaboration may be included in the project.
Both singers have publicly praised each other. Spears has said that Madonna has taught her how to express herself, while Madonna has said she supports Spears' efforts. Yeah, OK.
Meanwhile, the two are going up against each other in the Best Female Pop Performance category at this year's Grammy Awards.
BEATLES ARE NO. 1: The Beatles' landmark album, "Revolver," has been named the greatest rock 'n' roll album of all time, according to a survey of musicians and critics conducted by VH-1.
Thirty years after the band broke up, they're still topping the charts with the release of "1," a compilation of the Fab Four's 27 No. 1 hits. The Beatles also dominated VH-1's survey with a total of five albums making the list. They included "Rubber Soul" (No. 6), "Abbey Road'' (No. 8), "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'' (No. 10) and "The Beatles,'' better known as the White Album (No. 11).
Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones also had five albums on the top 100 list. Seven other bands had three of their albums on the list, including Led Zeppelin, The Who, Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix. Others to make the list included Nirvana's "Nevermind" (No. 2) the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" (No. 3) and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" (No. 4).
Music and documentary footage of artists on the list will be shown in a five-hour special, "100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll,'' airing on VH-1 Jan. 15 through Jan. 19.
BUSTED! Rapper Vanilla Ice was arrested in Florida for allegedly attacking his wife during a domestic dispute, the Associated Press reports. Police say the musician, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, placed his hand over his wife's mouth to shut her up. Van Winkle admits to pulling out some of her hair, but he says that was to keep her from jumping out of their truck while they were driving on Interstate 595.
The rapper, 32, was released Wednesday and released from Broward County Jail the next day on $3,500 bail. Prosecutors have 21 days to file charges.
"We had a heated argument,'' he said. "That's about it. It's not that big of a deal. I would never hit my wife or any girl or anything like that ... I love my wife, I love my kids, my life's fine, everything's good, no hitting, no drugs.''
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