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.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Miller plans white wedding
Actress Sienna Miller will fulfill her childhood dream when she marries film hunk Jude Law-- and wed in a traditional white wedding gown. The Alfie beauty accepted Law's proposal on Christmas Day after he presented her with a glistening diamond engagement ring, and she's already excitedly planning her wedding day. Miller--who yesterday said she was "the happiest girl alive"--is also determined to exchange vows in the presence of God. She says, "I want a big church wedding--it's always been my dream to marry in white. We haven't set a date, but I'm ecstatic."
Wahlberg considers Marky Mark return in Germany
Mark Wahlberg fears he'll have to one day return to the stage as rapper Marky Mark to repay a debt he owes in Germany. The movie star turned his back on his Marky Mark alter ego years ago but admits he left one former business manager demanding one more show. He says, "They'll probably call me saying I owe them from the last time. "A buddy of mine was running this company. I told him I would do a record if he gave me the money to go in the studio and mess around and it never came out." Wahlberg admits if the pal ever calls him on the favor, he'd consider bringing Marky Mark out of retirement for just one show. He adds, "If they'll pay me, (I'll do a) 35 minute set."
Renee planning a New England move
Renee Zellweger is planning to quit Los Angeles for good after she's finished promoting her new movie The Cinderella Man and set up home in New England. The actress tells the new issue of W magazine that she's had enough of life in Hollywood and wants to concentrate on writing books and music in the New England countryside.
Cruz found loneliness in Hollywood
Penelope Cruz led a "very lonely" existence when she first moved to Hollywood, because she didn't have any friends or family nearby. The actress abandoned a successful acting career in her native Spain to seek fame and fortune in Tinseltown, and soon landed roles in 2000 films Woman on Top and All The Pretty Horses. She further shot to prominence starring alongside Johnny Depp in 2001 blockbuster Blow. But she insists fame and success didn't come easily: "If you don't have friends in Hollywood, you can feel very lonely. I certainly did at the beginning, you know, it was really hard for me then. "I was living at a hotel for a long time and didn't know anybody, so it was pretty hard."
Clooney beats Pitt in sex appeal poll
George Clooney has triumphed in the latest round of his sex appeal battle with pal Brad Pitt, having topped a new poll listing Hollywood's hunkiest men. The Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve cast mates are regular competitors for the number one honor in similar surveys across the world--a light-hearted rivalry they've allowed to enter their friendship. But on this occasion it's Clooney who'll have the opportunity to stand proud in the presence of his pal, after scoring the most votes in a survey of 700 visitors to London's waxwork museum Madame Tussauds. Meanwhile, recent mum Julia Roberts was crowned the sexiest woman.
Branson in mile-high club
Virgin tycoon Richard Branson once had sex on a plane with a complete stranger. The star of reality TV show The Rebel Billionaire was just 18 when he got passionate with the passenger sitting next to him in the economy class section. Their brief encounter ended when they landed and he discovered she had a boyfriend. Branson recalls, "I was about 18-years-old and it was with somebody I met on the plane going to Los Angeles. "We were sitting in economy, and we had a blanket and one thing led to another. I remember her getting off the plane and rushing into the arms of her husband or boyfriend."
Baby and Sideways share honors at Texas Awards
Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby and wine drinking comedy Sideways shared the spoils at the Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Association's 11th annual prize giving in Texas. Eastwood's boxing drama claimed the Best Film prize and the movie's star, Hilary Swank, was named Best Actress, while Sideways stars Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen claimed the remainder of the acting awards. Other winners in Dallas and Fort Worth were French film A Very Long Engagement (Best Foreign Film), Fahrenheit 9/11 (Best Documentary) and The Incredibles (Best Animated Film).
Stone blames Alexander flop on 'homophobic' America
Director Oliver Stone has slammed American audiences as homophobic, and blames this prejudice as the reason why his latest movie Alexander flopped in the US. Stone expects the epic biopic, which stars Colin Farrell as bisexual Alexander the Great, to perform better in Europe as he believes Europeans have a better understanding of ancient history. He says, "Americans don't read about ancient history like the Europeans. And in America there is a raging fundamentalism and morality. From day one the Bible Belt people did not show up because there was one phrase throughout the media and that was 'Alex the gay'. So you can bet your a*s the Americans aren't going to see a war hero who in their heads has something wrong with him. But I don't regret what I have made here for a minute. It's the epic of my life."
Movie bosses warned to accurately portray albinism
Movie director Ron Howard is being advised to tread carefully when filming the movie adaptation of novel The Da Vinci Code this year, by not permitting albino stereotypes. The National Organization For Albinism And Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has asked film bosses to make sure the upcoming movie doesn't portray its albino character as a red-eyed psychopath. NOAH president Mike Mcgowan says, "One huge problem with (author Dan Brown's book) The Da Vinci Code is how (the character of) Silas is described with red eyes. That's a myth. Most often in people with albinism the eyes are light blue or even hazel. "Ron Howard can make a big difference for people with albinism by continuing the trend away from a hack device if they adjust the Silas character to not be an evil albino. "Over the years the stereotyping and misinformation foisted on the albinism community by film-makers does real harm to real people." Tom Hanks has signed up to star in The Da Vinci Code, which is slated for a mid-2006 release.
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