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 lot of fuss has been made about the return of Dancing With The Stars March 19 and while there is nothing wrong with watching a 55-year-old tennis player, a few 90s actors, and various television hosts all try to learn the fox trot, don’t hop over to ABC from NBC just yet. DWTS might just now be showing up to the party, but The Voice has been bringing the drama for almost two months now and shows no signs of slowing down. March 19's episode features the last battle round before the show heads into high gear for the live voting. It is still anyone’s game to win, while on DWTS, the contest hasn’t even begun. No one flips to the beginning of a book for a sneak a peak on how everything starts. Here are five compelling reasons to keep your TV tuned into The Voice. No peeking during commercials either!
1. The Talent Is Better
On The Voice, singing is what these contestants do - plain and simple. Guys like Orlando Napier, a soul singer who is in a band with his father; Tony Vincent, who's already been on Broadway; and Tony Lucca, a former Mouseketeer, actually make a living touring the country. Maria Menounos doesn’t dance for a living, she hosts Extra, sometimes in a NY Giants bikini. Sherri Shepherd from The View definitely does not dance for a living and the world will see why tonight. So, on pure craftsmanship alone, The Voice wins hands down. The talent is there from the start and only the cream of the crop will survive.
2. You Knew The Voice's Stars Before They Were Famous
Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise, George Clooney on ER, Angelina Jolie in Hackers - what do these things all have in common? These find superstars in small, breakout roles before they were...well, superstars. That’s the reason sites like IMDB are so widely popular, because the world loves to see talent in its rawest form, when it’s just starting out. That’s The Voice in a nutshell. NBC has gathered up the nation's best musical talent yet to break out and thrown them together on one show. Who will be the next Kelly Clarkson? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
3. Life Is Short
Competition life is certainly short for a unlucky battle losers March 19 on The Voice; six will be sent home by their very own coaches. This episode marks the the third night of brutal battle rounds, but DWTS is just getting started. Jaleel White, you’re safe...for now. The fact that the axe can be dropped on anyone on the show, and their career prospects for that matter, is what makes The Voice the more dramatic and intense program. It’s got its own x factor: that little flutter in the pit of the stomach when we're waiting for Cee Lo, Christina, Blake and Adam to make their choices.
4. Oh, the Mind Games
No other contest show on TV does it like The Voice. American Idol, DWTS, America’s Got Talent, X Factor - all those shows pit talent against talent, and that’s it. On The Voice, the coaches want to win it for their team and because of this, when Adam tells Christina, “I’d go with Jesse,” no one really knows if he is being sincere or trying to get her to cut the other guy, giving his team an advantage. These little games and the constant bickering (or flirting between Adam and Blake) is what makes The Voice such a can’t-miss series. You just don’t know who to trust. When did a TV show become like the CIA?
5. Cee Lo Green
He has been beloved by a niche group of fans for years but The Voice has made Cee Lo a bona fide superstar, and for good reason. His personality, fluffy white cat and constant flirting with every female contestant just works for the Grammy-winning artist. He’s like a lovable Dr. Evil, but on a reality show. Every contestant wants to be on his team and every viewer just wants to give him a hug.
So, the only question that remains is what are you tuning into tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT: The Voice on NBC or DWTS on ABC? Tell the world what YOU think below in the comments section.
S2E5: The teams are set and the competition is on! Last night was the final round of the blind auditions on The Voice and we saw all four coaches add some key talent to their diverse squads. Two singers also made noise going home, one was a Memphis blues legend (Preston Shannon) and the other was just a legendary tool bag. What’s up next? The battle rounds, where the coaches slim down the teams to six each before the live contest, when the world will vote to decide the next winner of The Voice. Let the BATTLE (rounds) begin!
“The thing that I really, really loved is the fact that you made me forget that it even was an Alicia Keys song.” – Christina
It was a family affair with our first singer of the night, Whitney Myer, who started playing music with her father and uncle from the ripe age of 14. Myer just wants to make music a real career and after her rendition of “No One,” she has a real shot to do just that by getting all four coaches to take notice. It was a civil battle among the fantastic four with no low blows. In the end, Adam telling her she could win the whole damn contest sealed the deal as she went with the Maroon 5 frontman.
“You need to be with Cee Lo.” – Blake The Shield Brothers looked like they should be in a Jack Black movie but these two farms boys who resemble a bulky Napoleon Dynamite brought their A game with “Dancing With Myself” and Cee Lo was thoroughly impressed. I might have been nodding my head a little too. What? They are catchy and I didn’t want to get punched in the face by Rock N’ Roll like they had threatened to do earlier. Adam showed some interest but it was too late and Cee Lo has a duo on his team. It will be interesting to see what Cee with do with these crazy brothers, who accomplished their mission and smacked us all in the face with some good old Rock N’ Roll!
The stories on The Voice never seem to amaze and impress me. Chessa, a native of Hawaii, came next and told the world of moving to Los Angeles with her family as a little girl, then giving up her room to help pay the mortgage after her mother literally started an elderly care facility from their home. She came in wanting Cee Lo, no shocker there, and got him after belted out a worthy version of “If I Were a Boy.” She started off really, really deep then suddenly was possessed by the spirit of Beyonce, hitting all the high notes. Where did that come from? Cee Lo started cursing when he thought the song was over and he had missed out. But, to his surprise there was a little left and he got his girl.
“I’m just going to not waste time arguing with them and just start coaching you” – Adam Lex Land, a volunteer music teacher and jazz singer, came next with “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and brought soft, sultry tones that were comforting to the ear. Carson said backstage she sounded nervous but we couldn’t tell as she killed it and had everyone but Christina picking the 24-year-old Texan. She was smoky like Adele at times, something Adam said he wanted her to get away from. But Blake used his sensual breathing to get her to commit to his team. Miranda Lambert (Blake’s wife) is one lucky lady!
“Gosh dang man, Adam ... before you sang, he (Adam) could tell you were good” – Blake Blake was right as Adam buzzed in before Orlando Napier could even get going. (He’s not complaining) Orlando, an LA guy whose mother left when he was just 13, started partying as a young teen and eventually landed in jail after a serious bar fight. His dad now plays sax in his band and Napier said his goal is to get pops on stage if he makes it far enough. Napier’s take on “Waiting on the World to Change” was really special and fresh, as he added a Southern feel and draw to the song. With that selection, Adam was the first to call it a day.
Team Adam is complete! “How are you not a woman?” – Adam
With the best quote of the entire season, we introduce the aforementioned tool bag who came and went next. Cameron Novack who was so high up on himself because of his hip-hop and opera skills, looked like an anorexic Vanilla Ice but surprisingly decided to sing the “You Oughta Know” -- the ultimate chick song by Alanis Morissette. The guy called himself a “triple threat” and even started beat boxing midway through his song. I have never been happier to see a guy go home. He even started to rap to the crowd when he wasn’t picked. I started to cringe when Cee began apologizing and saying he made a mistake. Adam then tried to get the panel to change the rules and let Novack on Cee’s team. No! Thank the Lord this didn’t happen. Cee Lo, no mistake here, this was the best non move of your career. “Your voice, it spoke to me.” – Christina After Mr. Novack, I needed a feel-good story and I got on in Lee Koch, a singer who recently turned to baking to pay the bills. He was ready to give up his dreams until The Voice, and after singing Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” maybe he won’t have to. It took until he busted out his harmonica for Christina to select him but I smiled a bit at that moment. I also second her sentiments about being excited for the battle rounds.
We had a youngster up next in Wade, 19, who brought us an R&B infused version of “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse. The young man had so much range that Adam thought it was a duet. Cee Lo buzzed in late but was still able to snag Wade for his eclectic team. It seemed as Cee Lo was touched by Wade’s song selection, adding that he was about to work with Winehouse right before she died. Team Cee Lo is complete! “You have chops.” – Christina “What does chops mean?” – Blake “See, you don’t know because you’re not a real vocalist.” – Christina We saw low blows from Christina trying to secure Adley Stump, a sorority girl who just started singing 10 months ago. Blake and Christina almost dared each other to hit their buttons towards the end of her song and then the two fought over where to take Stump’s music. Blake wanted her to be a true country artist, while Christina wanted to bring out her strong voice. After Xtina’s harsh words, Adam had Blake’s back calling him a damn good vocalist. Then things got weird as the two exchanged proposes of love and sexual innuendoes. But Adley went with Blake.
Team Blake is complete! “I just wanted to grab a mic and get up there and sing it with you” – Christina After denying a few singers, Christina went with Sera Hill, who works at a hotel and sings to guests at check in, to complete her team. It must be so weird having just one coach to impress, but Hill did a fantastic job giving us her take on “I’m Going Down.” She did such a great job that Christina jumped on stage and sang the chorus with her. Team Christina is done! Well, all the teams are in and now after all that suspense and drama, we get to see half of those singers go home just as fast in the battle rounds. We saw a teaser of what’s to come and some of the guest coaches coming on like Ne-Yo, Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Richie and of course Miranda Lambert. It will be really interesting to see who stays and who goes because all the singers are so unique. I’m still sticking with my selection from the very first show of the season Mr. Tony Lucca, who is still the man to beat with his intimidating voice and experience. I’ve probably just jinxed and ended this man’s career, but we will just have to see next week. What do you think of the teams? Who do you want going home next time? Let us know with some comments below and find me on Twitter @TheRealRothman.