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.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're making our final descent towards naming a Best Picture of 2011.
With the Golden Globes behind us and Academy Award nominations hitting next week (with the show arriving at the tail end of February), the limbo week between them is reserved for the coveted BAFTAs, the UK equivalent of the Oscars. After picking up a few statues at the Globes, feel good favorite of the year The Artist leads the pack in the BAFTA nods with a whopping 12 nominations. Behind the silent comedy are the British spy drama Tinker Tailor Solider Spy with 11 noms and Hugo with 9. Can the BAFTAs give a much-needed boost to the latter two films? Only time will tell…The BAFTAs announce their winners February 12.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Outstanding British Film
My Week With Marilyn
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Outstanding Debut by a Writer, Director or Producer
Attack The Block - Joe Cornish (Director/Writer)
Black Pond - Will Sharpe (Director/Writer), Tom Kingsley (Director), Sarah Brocklehurst (Producer)
Coriolanus - Ralph Fiennes (Director)
Submarine - Richard Ayoade (Director/Writer)
Tyrannosaur - Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)
Film Not in the English Language
The Skin I Live In
George Harrison: Living In The Material World
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Tomas Alfredson - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Lynne Ramsay - We Need To Talk About Kevin
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig - Bridesmaids
John Michael McDonagh - The Guard
Abi Morgan - The Iron Lady
Woody Allen - Midnight In Paris
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash - The Descendants
Tate Taylor - The Help
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon - The Ides Of March
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin - Moneyball
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
George Clooney - The Descendants
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Viola Davis - The Help
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Jim Broadbent - The Iron Lady
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Ides of March
Carey Mulligan - Drive
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Judi Dench - My Week with Marilyn
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Octavia Spencer - The Help
The Artist - Ludovic Bource
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Hugo - Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Alberto Iglesias
War Horse - John Williams
The Artist - Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo - Robert Richardson
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Hoyte van Hoytema
War Horse - Janusz Kaminski
The Artist - Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius
Drive - Mat Newman
Hugo - Thelma Schoonmaker
Senna - Gregers Sall, Chris King
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Dino Jonsater
The Artist - Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Hugo - Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald
War Horse - Rick Carter, Lee Sandales
The Artist - Mark Bridges
Hugo - Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre - Michael O'Connor
My Week With Marilyn - Jill Taylor
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Jacqueline Durran
Make Up & Hair
The Artist - Julie Hewett, Cydney Cornell
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin
Hugo - Morag Ross, Jan Archibald
The Iron Lady - Marese Langan
My Week With Marilyn - Jenny Shircore
The Artist - Nadine Muse, Gérard Lamps, Michael Krikorian
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - James Mather, Stuart Wilson, Stuart Hilliker, Mike Dowson, Adam Scrivener
Hugo - Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman, John Midgley
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Casali, Howard Bargroff, Doug Cooper, Stephen Griffiths, Andy Shelley
War Horse - Stuart Wilson, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Richard Hymns
Special Visual Effects
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn - Joe Letteri
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler, David Vickery
Hugo - Rob Legato, Ben Grossman, Joss Williams
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes - Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White
War Horse - Ben Morris, Neil Corbould
The Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award
He’s been nominated for three Academy Awards, won two Golden Globes and had an astounding 21 #1 box office debuts. He’s got one of the most impressive resumes of any actor today, having worked with Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Brian de Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridley and Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard and Sidney Pollack. Most impressive, however, is that through all the scientology and couch-jumping controversy, Tom Cruise has remained one of the most alluring, interesting and watchable movie stars on Earth.
The stellar performance of the advanced IMAX previews of his latest cinematic adventure, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, proves yet again that he continues to appeal to moviegoers worldwide. As the movie gears up to expand its release, here are four reasons why Cruise is still an institution:
He’s One of the Last Marquee Names
In the golden age, films were sold to audiences based on star power. Movie posters were adorned with the names of their male and/or female leads featured as prominently as its title. But by the 1990s, things changed. Sure, people still came out to the theater to see their favorite actor’s new movie, but directors, genre and theme became as integral – or more important in some cases - to a marketing campaign as anything. Just take a look at the posters for the biggest films of 2011 including Harry Potter 7B, Fast Five, Transformers 3, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1; the franchise, not the cast, is the message.
But with a Tom Cruise movie, the actor is still the studio’s most valuable asset. Ghost Protocol’s posters, TV spots and subway spots have primarily highlighted the actor as opposed to the property because, quite simply, there is no Mission: Impossible without him.
He’s as Exciting to Watch in Supporting Roles as He Is in the Lead Though he’s best known as a leading man, some of Cruise’s most lauded performances came in the form of supporting turns in ensemble films. He was a standout in 1982’s The Outsiders, working alongside Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez. He gave an electrifying performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award). And Cruise recently stole the show in Ben Stiller’s 2008 laffer Tropic Thunder as Les Grossman, a role which he’ll possibly reprise in a forthcoming spin-off. His upcoming appearance in Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages should add to his running list of small parts with a big impact.
He Makes the Kind of Movies the Masses Want to See There’s a reason why Cruise has had enormous success. The fact that he’s a dynamic, capable actor is only part of the equation - an actor is really only as good as the material he/she works with. Cruise’s filmography stands out because of the kinds of movies he makes: quality crowd-pleasers with broad appeal. From Top Gun to Rain Man and Jerry Maguire to Minority Report, audiences have always come out to see his big-budget blockbusters and smaller, personal stories because of the spectacle or relatable human drama. They’re films that everyone can enjoy, and moviegoers continue to eat them up.
Seeing His Films Gets Us All Nostalgic We all look back on our youth with sentimentality. When Tom Cruise first became a global superstar, the movie industry was a different animal. As showbiz exponentially grew over the years into America’s chief export, the big-business aspect has taken some of the fun and austerity out the theater-going experience. Entertainment isn’t as enigmatic as it once was, and in most cases it’s not as awe-inspiring. That’s what makes seeing a movie like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol so great. When I saw the film last week and laid eyes on Ethan Hunt for the first time in five years, it immediately took me back to Summer 1996, when I was first introduced to the high-tech world of the IMF. Maybe it was my age, but going to the movies was just more enjoyable back then. Seeing Cruise run from an oncoming sandstorm and scale the world’s tallest building gave me the kind of larger-than-life experience I had regularly at the multiplex before the turn of the century. That’s not to say that contemporary productions are incapable of delivering the goods (see: The Adventures of Tintin), but too few reach the level of a Jurassic Park or T2. However, I can always rest assured knowing that every time Cruise gears up for a new motion picture it’ll be something that reminds me of a simpler, more wholesome era of moviegoing.