Taking on the task of adapting David Mitchell’s best-selling novel Cloud Atlas to the big screen was not just an ambitious challenge, but also a passion-driven financial risk that was seen as a chance for the Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer to make another mind-boggling concept, which was already written in the stars.
“[David] writes the novel, Natalie Portman reads the novel on the set of [V for] Vendetta, I see it, I read it, Andy reads it, Tom reads it and now we are here,” says Lana Wachowski, half the mastermind behind The Matrix, at a roundtable interview in Los Angeles. “We were given this book and it was an opportunity, it was the comet that came into our lives.”
Cloud Atlas follows six storylines spanning across five centuries, featuring an all-star Hollywood cast – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant – that illustrates how the events, decisions and actions of an individual will transcend to others directly correlated with them in the future.
Because of the eternal recurrence consistency throughout the film’s reincarnation theme, Cloud Atlas became a once-in-a-lifetime project for actors to portray multiple characters in one film. As Harry Berry explained, “I loved the evolution of the characters and I loved the totality of every single one of them… Every character, every part that everyone had to play was equally as important to telling the story.”
The almost three-hour film can be a little complex with the multitude of stories, but one motive that prevails in every time period and lifetime was love. One of the film’s most captivating stories was a crime thriller segment that follows soul mates Isaac Sachs (Hanks) and Luisa Ray (Berry).
“My favorite role is Isaac Sachs, because he is literally a version of myself where he writes down these equations,” says Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks. “He writes the atlas, but comes across the cloud. He’s on the plane, and he says, “Okay, I’ve fallen in love with Luisa Ray and now things are profoundly different for me.” I relate to that, because that’s what I went through with my wife [Rita Wilson]. Without a doubt. So that happens. You have to be lucky enough to stumble across them.”
Even though Hanks may have had his fair share of luck in his personal life, Berry, his on-screen other half had her share of bad luck during the filming of Cloud Atlas. During the shoot Berry broke her foot off-set and worried she would derail years of planning of the Wachowski & Co. film.
“I thought after the day after it happened, I heard, ‘Lana and Andy want to come see you,’ I thought they were surely going to give me my papers and tell me, ‘Back on the plane,’” the Oscar-winning actress revealed. “But I was so touched ... I cried so hard when they said, ‘No, a bump in the road. We’re going to fix this.’”The Wachowski siblings and Tykwer became accustomed to challenges as they pursued getting Cloud Atlas being made, because it was considered “unfilmable” and similar to the siblings’ first blockbuster The Matrix, the film is demanding and took years to finally get the green light from Warner Bros.
But parallel to the film, Wachowski & Co. — who didn’t receive any paychecks as directors, even investing their own money into the project — maintained their faith, carrying out their labor of love, which will leave audiences thinking about their own lives and they way they’re living after they walk out of the movie theater.
“The making of this movie was filled with challenges and conventions that sort of had to be transcended, “ Lana explained. “Even in the convention of the film everyone looks at it and thinks, ‘Oh, is this an art house film or is a mainstream film?’ It’s a convention that the movie is attempting to transcend.”
Cloud Atlas hits theaters Friday, October 26.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures (3)]
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Want to know what happens when Desmond Tutu and a bunch of other Nobel Peace Prize winners get together to watch TV? They see that NBC's got a new reality competition show in the works (you remember it, don't you? It's called Stars Earn Stripes), and well, they get pretty upset about it. It's pretty surprising! Since, you know, reality television is rarely ever criticized for glorifying things it shouldn't, right? (He're looking at you, Teen Mom!)
According to CBS, the award-winning peaceful folk are outraged at the content of the show. "This program pays homage to no one anywhere," started the note penned to NBC that featured signatures from Tutu as well as Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Betty Williams. The Nobel winners went on to say that the show trivializes the seriousness of war, by "trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition."
The series--which oh-so-conveniently premieres tonight on NBC--pairs celebrities with U.S. military personnel for simulated military challenges. These celebrities include Laila Ali, Dean Cain, Picabo Street and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin. The show, hosted by former Presidential candidate retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, is being framed as an homage to the hard work done by our nation's soldiers. "I'm doing this series for one reason," explains Clark from the show's onset; "to introduce you, the American people, to the individuals that sacrifice so much for all of us." It is said that the show gathers its celebrity contestants at a remote training facility where they have to execute missions inspired by real military exercises.
The Nobel laureates also threw their weight behind a protest against the show scheduled to take place Monday outside NBC's headquarters in Manhattan.
Do you think the criticism is warranted or overstated? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: NBC]
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After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie