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.
Even though politics can be funny from time-to-time, there is nothing funny about plagiarism. (End Joe Biden laugh!) And that is exactly what Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg is accusing presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of.
The writer-director of the sports drama issued a letter calling out the Republican for his use of an expression he created for the now canceled series. The phrase "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose" – which was made famous in the television show — has been used many times in Romney's campaign speeches and throughout his Facebook page.
According to The Hollywood Reporter Berg writes to Romney — who has admitted his family is a fan of the show: "Your use of the expression falsely and inappropriately associates Friday Night Lights with the Romney/Ryan campaign."
Unfortunately the author of the book that spawned the show does not agree, calling the letter "uninformed and offensive." In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Buzz Bissinger said about his cousin (yep, you read that right), "I love Pete but he is being childish and petulant." He also took aim at his family member for taking credit for FNL. "I am frankly sick and tired of Berg and everyone else acting as if he was the creator of Friday Night Lights. Without the book there never would have been a television show. He should feel lucky that anyone cares about it."
Berg does say in the letter that he is grateful to Romney for one thing: "We are grateful for your support of our beloved show, but we are not in any way affiliated with you or your campaign. The show's (uh, er, um) creator — who in the letter compares the GOP candidate with a character on the show "who turned his back on American car manufacturers selling imported cars from Japan" — ends the letter (and hopefully the nasty back-and-forth) by saying, "Please come up with your own campaign slogan."
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Today marked a sunny day for The Dark Knight.
Also for a guy who grows younger as he gets older and a kid who beats all odds to win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The Producers Guild of America has announced its nominations for best movies, documentaries and TV shows. Nods in this movie category often foreshadow what’s to come by way of Oscar later on.
The 20th Annual PGA Awards will take place Jan. 24 at the Hollywood Paladium.
The complete list of nominees is as follows. First, for theatrical movies:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall
The Dark Knight
And for documenaries:
Man on Wire
Standard Operating Procedure
Julie Bilson Ahlberg
Trouble the Water
And for animation:
Kung Fu Panda
And for episodic TV/comedy:
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Lori Jo Nemhauser
And for episodic TV/drama:
David E. Kelley
Mark A. Baker
Todd A. Kessler
Robert Lloyd Lewis
Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
And for "nonfiction" TV:
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List
Lisa M. Tucker
This American Life
And for "live and competition" TV:
Bertram van Munster
Hayma “Screech” Washington
The Colbert Report
Stephen T. Colbert, DFA
Real Time with Bill Maher
And for "long-form" TV"
Bernard and Doris
A Raisin in the Sun
Finally, honorary awards and recipients:
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television
MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson
The Stanley Kramer Award
Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen
MORE NEWS: It's Dolly and Charlie Romijn-O'Connell!
The story starts at a junior high dance where a nerdy kid Jeremy asks each one of the popular girls to dance. All of them in one way or another rebuff and ridicule Jeremy mercilessly. Jumping ahead 13 years it's nearing Valentine's Day and the girls still close friends are now all grown up. There's sexy Paige (Denise Richards) smart Shelley (Katherine Heigl) fun Lily (Jessica Cauffiel) sweet Kate (Marley Shelton) and ugly duckling-turned-swan Dorothy (Jessica Capshaw). Tragically the girls and the men in their lives are being bumped off one by one in rather gruesome ways by a killer in a angel mask with most of the murders taking place at Dorothy's Valentine's Day party. Is it Jeremy who's come back for revenge or someone else?
Well there certainly isn't a lack of beautiful people in this movie. And that's what a slasher film is all about. Not much is required of the acting besides looking scared and asking "Who's there?" But darn it they all look good doing it. As far as any notable standouts Denise Richard's sexy bad girl actually has the audience guessing whether or not she's the killer which is a credit to her performance. Other than that the rest of the cast just goes along for the ride in an extremely predictable script.
Really what can one say about another slasher film that is incredibly formulaic? There are no real twists or surprises. One must plod through the whole movie hoping to find a touch of originality or even creativity but is pretty much served the same tired horror schtick as in most other horror flicks. The only saving grace is the more well-known cast members especially David Boreanaz ("Angel") as Kate's boyfriend Richards ("The World Is Not Enough" "Wild Things") and Shelton (in the new release "Sugar and Spice"). And unfortunately that really isn't saying a whole lot.
Forget the Battle of the Bands! Moviegoers felt the noize this weekend as the musical comedy School of Rock won the battle at the box office with a tuneful $20.2 million*.
Opening to positive reviews, the Jack Black vehicle easily outperformed Out of Time, starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington. The police thriller took in a sensible $17 million to place second.
"I think it has more to do with the subject matter than the stars," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told The Associated Press Sunday. "School of Rock has a younger, school-age appeal. Black's like a big kid, like an Adam Sandler-type persona. Irreverent, funny, bucks the establishment. That brings in younger audiences."
Indeed. School of Rock's melodious take was also enough to make it the fifth best October opener ever, ousting the sci-fi comedy K-Pax. School of Rock follows the likes of October champ Red Dragon, which debuted in 2002 with $36.5 million; the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents, with $28.6 million; the 2002 comedy Jackass: The Movie, with $22.7 million; and the 2001 drama Training Day with $22.5 million.
Last week's box office topper, the jungle actioner The Rundown, dropped to third place with $9.7 million, followed by the sun-drenched romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun with $7.9 million. The family drama Secondhand Lions rounded out the Top Five with tame $5.3 million.
The Station Agent and Wonderland, which opened in limited runs in New York City and Los Angeles, also showed strong debuts with high per theater averages.
THE TOP TEN
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated rock 'n' roll comedy School of Rock debuted at the top of the box office this week with an impressive ESTIMATED $20.2 million in 2,614 theaters, averaging $7,728 per theater.
In the film, funnyman Jack Black stars as a hell-raising guitarist who impersonates a substitute teacher and turns a class of fifth-grade high-achievers into high-voltage rock 'n' rollers.
Directed by Richard Linklater, it stars Black, Joan Cusack and Michael White.
MGM Pictures' R rated police thriller Out of Time premiered in second place with an ESTIMATED $17 million at 3,076 theaters, averaging $5,527 per theater.
In the film, Academy Award winner Denzel Washington plays a Florida police chief whose life unravels as he begins to investigate a brutal double homicide.
Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated jungle actioner The Rundown, last week's box office champ, dropped to third place in its second weekend with an ESTIMATED $9.7 million (-47%) in 3,154 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,100 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32.7 million.
Directed by Peter Berg, it stars The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun fell two notches to No.4 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $7.9 million (-19%) in 1,697 theaters (+471 theaters; $4,661 per theater). Its cume is approximately $20.9 million.
Directed by Audrey Wells, it stars Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta and Raoul Bova.
New Line's PG rated family drama Secondhand Lions only dropped one spot to round out the Top Five in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-35%) in 3,032 theaters (-6 theaters; $1,773 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.8 million.
Directed by Tim McCanlies, it stars Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.
Sony Picture's R rated supernatural thriller Underworld tumbled three positions to take sixth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-49%) at 2715 theaters (-213 theaters; $1,768 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.5 million.
Directed by Len Wiseman, it stars Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Focus Features' R rated dramedy Lost In Translation climbed three positions to place seventh in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (+16%) in 864 theaters (+376 theaters; $4,393 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $14.1 million.
Directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated musical comedy The Fighting Temptations dropped three rungs to No. 8 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-49%) in 1,762 theaters (-264 theaters; $1,864 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.7 million.
Directed by Jonathan Lynn, it stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., Beyonce Knowles, Mike Epps and Steve Harvey.
Sony Pictures' R rated sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico fell three notches to ninth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $2.5 million (-49%) in 2, 097 theaters (-825theaters; $1,216 per theater). Its cume is approximately $52.9 million.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, it stars Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe.
Buena Vista's R rated thriller Cold Creek Manor slipped two spots to round out the Top Ten in its third week with an ESTIMATED $2.5 million (-43%) at 1,398 theaters (-97 theaters; $1,290 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.3 million.
Directed by Mike Figgis, it stars Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff and Juliette Lewis.
Lions Gate Releasing's R rated biopic Wonderland premiered in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles with an ESTIMATED $90,000, averaging $18,000 per theater.
Directed by James Cox, it stars Val Kilmer, Lisa Kudrow, Kate Bosworth, Dylan McDermott and Josh Lucas.
Miramax's R rated drama The Station Agent, meanwhile, premiered in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles with an ESTIMATED $55,500, averaging a strong $18,500 per theater.
Directed by Tom McCarthy, it stars Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson and Michelle Williams.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $82.1 million, up 2.9 percent from last weekend's $79.8 million. The Top 12 movies, however, were down 18.67 percent from this time last year when they took in $101 million.
Last year, Universal's R rated thriller Red Dragon came in at No. 1 in its opening week with $36.5 million in 3,357 theaters ($10,855 per theater); Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy Sweet Home Alabama came in second place in its second week with $21.3 million in 3,303 theaters (+10 theaters; $6,456 per theater); and DreamWorks' PG-13 rated comedy The Tuxedo finished third in its second week with $10 million at 2,051 theaters (unchanged; $4,893 per theater).