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.
We've all been fed up with a celebrity at one time or another, but harassment laws prevent us from doing anything other than rolling our eyes when they're on the Today Show and refusing to buy Cosmo when they appear on the cover. For animals, it's a different story. They can hiss and bite with impunity and people excuse their behavior just because they're literally incapable of knowing any better.
The latest victim is presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Apparently, being named after a member of the animal kingdom didn't win him any points with the residents of the St. Louis Zoo. The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, “During his visit to the popular zoo in Forest Park, he was treated to a behind-the-scenes visit with two Magellanic penguins. One of them nipped Gingrich on the finger.”
Gingrich only needed a small Band-Aid, but the attack left many unanswered questions. Is the penguin a staunch Romney supporter, or are Gingrich's fingers just magically delicious? Whatever the reason, animal attacks are turning into a disturbing trend. PETA may be working to protect animals from heartless, fur-wearing celebrities, but no one stuck up for these stars during their vicious (and possibly deserved) run-ins with nature.
Ryan Seacrest v. Shark
Hollywood seems to think that Ryan Seacrest must be involved in every show that can be hosted — but sharks are having none of it. Several years ago, a shark took a bite out of the American Idol veteran's toe while he was swimming in Mexico. "It swam up to me, and it took a bite, and then he left," said Seacrest. He was perfectly fine after an aspirin and a bandage, but the message from marine life was perfectly clear — even if they did send a cat-sized sand shark to do a Great White's job.
Chris Brown v. Seagulls
As with many of Chris Brown's feuds, he brought this one on himself. In February, Brown and his entourage were feeding seagulls french fries on the beach in Miami. Then when Brown took a break to apply sunscreen, the birds lunged at him. The take away: If you try to cut animals' feeding time short, they're likely to make a meal out of you.
Shakira v. Sea Lion
Shakira also learned an important lesson about taunting marine life with snacks. While vacationing in South Africa in February, a sea lion jumped out of the water. "[It] roared in fury and tried to bite me," she wrote on Facebook, adding that her brother saved her life by pulling her away from the animal. "We both got our hands and legs scratched by the rocks while trying to protect ourselves." Shakira theorized that the sea lions saw the shiny reflection of her Blackberry and thought she was holding a fish.
Madonna v. Horse
Most humans would be too scared to anger the Material Girl, but apparently horses have no fear of having their eyes poked out with a cone bra. In 2005, Madonna broke three ribs, a hand, and her collarbone when she slipped from a saddle — and in 2009, another horse had the audacity to throw her. Madonna made a full recovery, but the paparazzi who frightened the animal were scared for their own lives.
Paris Hilton v. Kinkajou
Considering the number of pets Paris Hilton has, we're guessing she's been bitten by furry creatures on a regular basis. However, only one pet actually sent her to the emergency room. In 2006 her kinkajou Baby Luv (a racoon-like animal) gave her a "superficial bite on her left arm." Baby Luv was riled up from a play session with Hilton, and possibly angered at the lack of good help in the heiress' two-story dog house. Hilton was given a tetanus shot and a bandage, and poor Baby Luv mysteriously disappeared from her menagerie.
Susan Sarandon and Jessica Alba v. Dolphins
Dolphins are among the most civilized creatures in the wild, but much like humans, they still commit crimes of passion. In the '70s, Sarandon was hanging out in a California dolphin lab with Timothy Leary (who didn't?) when she bonded with a dolphin called Joe. She was in the tank holding on to Joe's fin when his jealous mate clamped down on her arm. "I could hear [researchers] shouting, 'No, Rosie! Don't!' I looked over and Joe's mate, this huge dolphin I hadn't even noticed before, was virtually standing up right out of the water, towering over me on its rear fins," Sarandon explained. "She seemed to be 12 feet tall, emitting this loud, high-pitched noise. The attendants were screaming, 'We've got to get you out!' I was afraid I was going to get my other arm broken." Her wound took months to heal, but researchers said she was lucky Rosie didn't kill her.
Jessica Alba's dolphin run-in wasn't dangerous, but it was incredibly awkward. It seems the dolphins on her show Flipper liked her just as much as male humans do. "Dolphins get excited, even when you're a human being, and they have long, long... I didn't know this until I was poked by a few of them, which was very rude," she said. "I sort of requested female dolphins after that."
Susan Sarandon Joining 'The Big C'
'Animal Kingdom' Series in the Works for Showtime
Amanda Seyfried Loves Dead Animals: Late Last Night
[Washington Post, Washington Post, Daily Mail, CBS News, Star Pulse]
Mornings have suddenly become the most interesting time slot on TV, and it's not because Hoda and Kathie Lee have discovered a new cocktail. With new celebrity feuds, gossip about anchors' contracts, and a major ratings upset, these days what's happening behind the scenes is far more interesting than what's on air.
The biggest news is that after 16 years and 852 weeks, the Today Show lost its top ratings spot to Good Morning America. Preliminary Nielsen data shows that GMA beat Today by 13,000 viewers for the week ending April 13.
Today executive producer Jim Bell wasn't bitter in his response, saying of his team, "we tip our caps to the team at Good Morning America," and adding, "While the streak has been wonderful affirmation of our work, it has never defined us, and we will continue to innovate, take chances and lead the way."
Though the Today staff can't be happy about GMA closing the ratings gap, the loss actually proves that anchor Matt Lauer is one of the most valuable assets in morning TV. NBC just signed a contract giving Lauer a reported $25 million annual salary for four more years, and it appears he's worth every penny.
The ratings shift is very bad news for Lauer's co-anchor, Ann Curry. For weeks rumors have been circulating that her days at Today are numbered, and apparently she wasn't enough of a draw to keep viewers from flipping to ABC.
Curry isn't the only one on thin ice at NBC. Kathy Griffin has been "re-banned" from the Today Show. Griffin explains, "Over the years since Suddenly Susan in 1996, I have been banned and re-banned from the Today Show by several people. Katie Couric at one point. Matt Lauer at one point. This time my camp heard that it was actually Natalie Morales — who is on the show, I don't even know if she's the co-host, I think she reads the news." Supposedly the feud started when Griffin snubbed Morales at the Golden Globes, but the comedian doesn't remember receiving an interview request. Griffin is launching a Bravo talk show, which like NBC is owned by Comcast, and she jokes that this is an example of "synergy in action."
As if that isn't enough drama for one perky morning show, Today is also battling Alec Baldwin. Last week he railed against the show on Twitter for camping out outside of his apartment to report on his alleged stalker's arrest. Baldwin declared that he's "leaving NBC just in time," but now he's clarified that he'll still be on the network's payroll for another year. Tina Fey hinted on The View that the "end is on the horizon" for 30 Rock, and on Monday Baldwin confirmed that he'll stay on the show for the seventh and final season.
[Hollywood Reporter, MetroMix, AP]
Matt Lauer Will Stay on 'Today Show'
Tina Fey Says '30 Rock' End is Nigh: The Series' Aging Timeline
Alec Baldwin Slams 'Today Show,' Says He's Leaving NBC
Relationships in Hollywood are notoriously short-lived, but one couple has managed to go the distance, despite the fact that they never tied the knot. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been together since 1983 and raised four children together (they have one son together and three kids from previous relationships), yet Hawn says they have no intention of getting married.
So, why has their relationship lasted nearly three decades? Hawn tells Radio 4's Woman's Hour, "There's a trick. You have to like the way each other smell." She isn't talking about maintaining a certain standard of cleanliness. She explains, "I think it's that the pheromones haven't gone away. The chemicals are still popping."
That isn't to say that their relationship has always been rosy. "You don't aways agree with your mate. You don't even like them sometimes. But there is something there that sparks you. You have to focus on that as you move on," says Hawn, adding, "I think Kurt's an extraordinary person. I love being with him and I love our family and I love our family life."
In recent years a few notoriously unwed couples called it quits, including Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, who were together for 23 years, and Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend, who dated for 9 years. However, there are still quite a few couples who share Hawn and Russell's belief that marriage isn't a requirement for a long and happy relationship:
Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick
Don't expect to see another Kardashian wedding special on E! anytime soon. Though Kourtney and Scott have been together since 2007 and are expecting their second child, she declared on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, "I definitely don't want to get married just for the sake of getting married. This is my life. I don't need a piece of paper to make it a family unit."
Jon Hamm and Jennifer WestfeldtThough Don seems to be headed into another ill-fated marriage on Mad Man, in real life Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt have been happily unmarried since 1997. In 2012 Hamm told Parade, "I don't have the marriage chip, and neither of us have the greatest examples of marriages in our families. But Jen is the love of my life, and we've already been together four times longer than my parents were married."
Liev Shreiber and Naomi WattsLike Hamm and Westfeldt, Liev Shreiber and Naomi Watts, who have been together since 2005 and have two sons, say their family history made them uninterested in marriage. “It’s not like I’ve grown up having this dream of a fairy-tale wedding,” Watts told Paradein 2009. “My mother married twice and had two divorces. And Liev comes from the same kind of background. Maybe one day we’ll just wake up and go, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ And maybe not. He and I have a family. We’re very much together. We just don’t have that certificate, and that’s okay with both of us. He gave me a beautiful ring, although I’m not wearing it right now.”
Angelina Jolie and Brad PittThough we've been hearing rumors about their impending nuptials for the seven years that they've been together, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt famously declared that they won't even consider getting hitched until same-sex marriage is legalized. Though, recently Pitt told The Hollywood Reporter that they haven't ruled out the possibility.
He explained, "We made this declaration some time ago that we weren’t going to do it till everyone can. But I don’t think we’ll be able to hold out. It means so much to my kids, and they ask a lot. And it means something to me, too, to make that kind of commitment."
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman GrahamOprah may be the most famously unmarried celebrity, but in May 2012 she told O, The Oprah Magazine that she and Stedman Graham were once set to marry -- she just didn't enjoy being engaged.
She said, "Actually, Stedman asked me to marry him, and at first I said 'Yes!' but it turned out that I wanted to be asked to be married more than I wanted to be married ... It just felt like the wrong thing for me. This was at the same time that I was supposed to have the book coming out. We were in Miami, in the back of a limousine, coming back from the party with the big shrimp, and Stedman asks, 'So when is the book coming out?' The book was coming out September 14 or something, and our wedding had been scheduled for September 8. We had a date and everything.
So Stedman says, 'Well, I don't want to have my wedding in competition with your book.' And I remember thinking, 'Yes! Really? Okay, great! I ended up canceling both, and we have not discussed it since that day."
Source: Press Association
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The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.