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.
The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
If I learned anything from watching Sports Night, it's that potential anchor changes provide for some very compelling episodes. Clearly, there's something to the notion that one's position as a trusted news provider is forever in flux. That's why stories like Ann Curry's unceremonious removal from Today and Thursday's announcement from CBS regarding Norah O'Donnell replacing former CBS This Morning anchor Erica Hill are so quick to catch our eye. We can see the backstage conversations, filled with haughty Socrates references and allusions to historical moments in journalism, spilling forth from one fast-talking journalist as her producer tries to calm her down by responding with sage words of wisdom.
O'Donnell will take Hill's seat as the former co-host of CBS This Morning as Hill pursues a position at CBS News and so far, all seems to be well from the outside. But after watching what happened with Today it's clear that the politics behind running a morning news show are anything but mundane. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose imagination is running amok as these changes continue to roll out. I can see it now: Aaron Sorkin's Sports Newsroom: AM Edition. I've taken the liberty of writing up a potential synopsis for this (fictional) series:
We find a hot-headed veteran and his slow-talking, introspective co-host as they attempt to make peace — and a great news show — with the newest network appointee. There will be philosophical discussions of what a morning news show really means. There will be walking-and-talking. Someone will eventually admit that they "hate your breathing guts." It will be Sorkin at its best, with an extra serving of coffee and a bear claw breakfast.
Add a little sexual tension and a crowd of screaming early risers behind a pane of glass in the background, and boom: you've got yourself a show. Just take a look at this tension-filled clip from Sports Night and tell me you couldn't swap in a few extra smiley morning people and let the sparks fly: Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler. [Image: CBS] More: Savannah Guthrie Takes Ann Curry's Seat on Today Ann Curry: The Second Coming of Conan O'Brien? Ann Curry's Today Fate: Save Her, Say Fans CBS This Morning
Actress Maura Tierney is undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from her breast.
The former ER star, 44, was reported to have fallen ill on Friday, pushing production on her new NBC TV drama Parenthood back by eight weeks to September.
The exact cause of her illness was not disclosed at the time of the initial reports, sparking rumors about what could be causing the long delay with filming.
So Tierney has spoken out to reveal the true depth of her health scare in a bid to quell "confusion and undue alarm" about her ailment, assuring fans not to worry.
She says, "In an effort to guard my privacy, it seems that the wording of NBC's press release has unfortunately caused some confusion and undue alarm about my health.
"I have discovered a tumor in my breast which requires surgery. I will not know either my exact diagnosis or course of treatment until that surgery is performed. My doctors have all assured me this is a very treatable condition.
"I'm very optimistic as to the outcome and want to thank everyone who has sent positive thoughts and support. I look forward to going back to work soon."
It's the second delay to hit Parenthood's filming schedule. In April, the pilot was put on hold for two days after NBC's vice president Nora O'Brien died unexpectedly on the set of the show in California.
MORE NEWS: Harris Confirmed As Emmy's Host
(c) 2009 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All global rights reserved. No unauthorized copying or re-distributing permitted.
New TV drama Parenthood has been delayed by eight weeks after one of its stars, Maura Tierney, fell ill.
The series, based on the 1989 movie, was due to start later this month, but TV bosses have been forced to move the launch to the end of September due to a "medical evaluation" Tierney is undergoing.
Tierney is best known for playing Dr. Abby Lockhart on hit medical series ER for 10 years, for which she received an Emmy nomination.
It is the second time Parenthood's filming schedule has been pushed back -- in April the pilot was put on hold for two days after NBC's vice president Nora O'Brien died unexpectedly on the set of the show in California.
(c) 2009 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All global rights reserved. No unauthorized copying or re-distributing permitted.
MORE NEWS: La Toya: 'Michael Was Murdered'