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 nominations for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are in, and with more submissions than ever before in the ceremony's history, it looks like a hot race.
Jeff Kleeman, IFP committee chair, had this to say: "With more submissions and less time then ever before, the Nominating Committee watched and discussed over 190 films in six weeks -- an act of extreme devotion that proved to be tremendously rewarding."
Dawn Hudson, IFP executive producer, added that this year's batch of nominees is particularly diverse, and commended the fact there are more highly talented women writers and directors emerging on the independent film scene, including nominees Shari Springer Berman, Sofia Coppola and Catherine Hardwicke.
Films that have been nominated for IFP Independent Spirit Awards were selected based on their original and provocative subject matter, uniqueness of vision, and financial characteristics, including total budget, individual compensation, and percentage of independent financing.
Last year's ISA winners included the film Far From Heaven (best feature), Julianne Moore (best director and lead actress), and Dennis Quaid (best supporting actor).
The 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will air live on Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. EST on the Independent Film Channel, and will be broadcast at 10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.
The nominees for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are (by category):
Lost in Translation
Raising Victor Vargas
Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini - American Splendor
Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation
Jim Sheridan - In America
Peter Sollett - Raising Victor Vargas
Gus Van Sant - Elephant
American Splendor - Writers: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Lost in Translation - Writer: Sofia Coppola
A Mighty Wind - Writers: Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy and the cast of A Mighty Wind
Pieces of April - Writer: Peter Hedges
Shattered Glass - Writer: Billy Ray
Best First Feature
Bomb the System - Director: Adam Bhala Lough; Producers: Ben Rekhi, Sol Tryon
House of Sand and Fog - Director: Vadim Perelman; Producers: Michael London, Vadim Perelman
Monster - Director: Patty Jenkins; Producers: Mark Damon, Donald Kushner, Clark Peterson, Charlize Theron, Brad Wyman
Quattro Noza - Director: Joey Curtis; Producer: Fredric King
Thirteen - Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Producers: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Michael London
John Cassavetes Award
Anne B. Real - Director: Lisa France; Writers: Lisa France, Antonio Macia, Producers: Josselyne Herman, Luis Moro, Jeanine Rohn
Better Luck Tomorrow - Director: Justin Lin; Writers: Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin, Fabian Marquez; Producers: Julie Asato, Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin
Pieces of April - Writer/Director: Peter Hedges; Producers: Alexis Alexanian, John S. Lyons, Gary Winick
The Station Agent - Writer/Director: Thomas McCarthy; Producers: Mary Jane Skalski, Robert May, Kathryn Tucker
Virgin - Writer/Director: Deborah Kampmeier; Producer:Sarah Schenck
Best First Screenplay
Blue Car- Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Monster - Writer: Patty Jenkins
Raising Victor Vargas - Writers: Peter Sollett and Eva Vives
The Station Agent - Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Thirteen - Writers: Catherine Hardwicke & Nikki Reed
Best Female Lead
Agnes Bruckner - Blue Car
Zooey Deschanel - All the Real Girls
Samantha Morton - In America
Elisabeth Moss - Virgin
Charlize Theron - Monster
Best Male Lead
Peter Dinklage - The Station Agent
Paul Giamatti - American Splendor
Sir Ben Kingsley - House of Sand and Fog
Bill Murray - Lost in Translation
Lee Pace - Soldier's Girl
Best Supporting Female
Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog
Sarah Bolger - In America
Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April
Hope Davis - The Secret Lives of Dentists
Frances McDormand - Laurel Canyon
Best Supporting Male
Judah Friedlander - American Splendor
Troy Garity - Soldier's Girl
Djimon Hounsou - In America
Alessandro Nivola - Laurel Canyon
Peter Sarsgaard - Shattered Glass
Best Debut Performance
Anna Kendrick - Camp
Judy Marte - Raising Victor Vargas
Victor Rasuk - Raising Victor Vargas
Nikki Reed - Thirteen
Janice Richardson - Anne B. Real
Elephant - Harris Savides
In America - Declan Quinn
Northfork - M. David Mullen
Quattro Noza - Derek Cianfrance
Shattered Glass - Mandy Walker
Best Foreign Film
City of God (Brazil)
Lilya 4-Ever (Denmark)
The Magdalene Sisters (England/Ireland)
The Triplets of Belleville (France)
Whale Rider (New Zealand)
The Fog of War
Mayor of the Sunset Strip
OT: our town
Calling all eligible bachelors: Nicole Kidman is looking for someone to take to the Academy Awards. The 34-year-old actress, who has been recently accompanied by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann to many events and brought her father to the Golden Globes, confessed she is dateless for the March 24 main event. Kidman received her first Best Actress nomination for her role as the doomed courtesan Satine in Moulin Rouge.
When asked at the Oscar nominees luncheon Monday whom she was planning on taking, Kidman responded to Hollywood.com, "I'm not bringing Baz," she laughed, "but I don't really have anyone to bring at this point. I'm looking." Pay attention, gentlemen!
Britney Spears has denied rumors circulating that she and her beau, Justin Timberlake, have broken up. On Monday, she told MTV Europe that the rumor was not true, even though several news wires reported that unconfirmed sources say the two split last week due to hectic work schedules.
Francis Ford Coppola will be producing an international version of Suriyothai, the current box office smash hit in Thailand. Directed by Coppola's friend Chatrichalerm Yukol, the film's story centers around a 16th-century Thai queen who sacrifices herself to save her king during a bloody attack by the Burmese. Coppola told Variety, "I hope the changes I suggest retain the exotic beauty and continuity of the original."
In a study conducted by the British medical journal Tobacco Control, evidence was found that major tobacco companies encouraged actors to smoke to influence moviegoers. USAToday.com reported on the study, saying that a 1980 internal document from R.J. Reynolds showed the company gave free cigarettes to 188 celebrities. And a similar 1989 document from another tobacco company, Philip Morris, quoted the company as saying it needed to "exploit" actors.
The CBS documentary 9/11 received huge ratings on Sunday. Nearly 39 million viewers tuned in to watch the special about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, as never-before-seen footage from filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet aired. Not surprisingly, there was strong viewership from the New York City area, comprising about 35% of all the households around the country.
Beverly Hills, 90210 alumni Tori Spelling and Tiffani Thiessen, Oscar winner Martin Landau and actress Mary Stuart Masterson are making their way to the small screen. Spelling will star in WB show Way Downtown, about a struggling writer, while Thiessen will star in Fox action/drama Fast Lane. Landau will be starring in an untitled ABC drama, playing a key adviser to a media family, and Masterson will star in CBS show R.U.S./H., about an elite LAPD squad. Oh, goody.
Sally Jessy Raphael has to hang up her microphone. Her long-running daytime talk show has been canceled after being on the air for nearly 20 years. The show is currently in ninth place in the ratings.
Wes Scantlin, the lead singer for the rock group Puddle of Mudd, and his fiancée, Michelle Rubin, were arrested Sunday for fighting. The couple was booked on domestic-violence charges when witnesses called in that a man was forcing a woman into a car on a highway shoulder in Ventura County, Calif. The reason for the argument has not been disclosed, according to the Associated Press.
R&B soul singer Lauryn Hill will be performing at the May 11 St. Lucia Jazz Festival. She'll be joining other artists performing during the festival, including Smokey Robinson, Stephanie Mills, Branford Marsalis and India.Arie. The West Indies island festival runs May 3-12.
Maybe she's not guilty, after all. There's a twist in the case of the ill-fated December shopping spree made by actress Winona Ryder, in which she has been accused of shoplifting from a trendy Beverly Hills store. As reported by TV show Extra Tuesday, store surveillance videos did not corroborate police reports. Extra obtained more than an hour of footage of the incident, where Ryder is shown putting on hats and lipstick, not removing security tags from clothes and putting them in her bag, as the police allege. The actress is currently out on bail, and a preliminary hearing is due to be scheduled this week.
Singer Connie Francis, who has been dealing with mental-health problems since her rape and torture in a hotel room in 1974, has sued Universal Music Corp. for allowing her music to be licensed for use in porno movies. She alleges the company is taking advantage of her because of her mental problems.
A man, who was a guest on the Jerry Springer Show in May 2000 about secret mistresses, has gone on trial for murdering his ex-wife. Hours after the episode aired July 24, 2000, Ralf Panitz, who appeared with his ex-wife and current wife, went to his ex-wife's house and beat her to death. Double yikes.
Pop singer Britney Spears has officially left her teenage years behind her. She celebrated her 20th birthday with her friends and family at the Italian restaurant Solaia in Englewood, N.J., Sunday night, enjoying food, ambiance--and a male stripper. Sitting with her mother and 10-year-old sister Jamie, Ms. Spears giggled and blushed through a steamy dance by hunky stripper Steven Peters. "She told me, 'This is the best birthday present I've ever gotten!'" Peters told Pagesix.com. Although her boyfriend, 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, was in Las Vegas rehearsing for the Billboard Music Awards, the singer talked to him on the phone while opening his gifts--Baccarat crystal glasses, a baby-blue teddy bear and silver candelabras.
Oscar winner Julia Roberts and music maven Madonna were the only two superstars to make The Hollywood Reporter's list of the 50 most influential women in show business, ranked No. 3 and 42, respectively. Universal Pictures chairman of production Stacey Snider ranked No.1, while Sherry Lansing, Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman, followed in the number two spot.
Kevin Spacey and Drew Barrymore were awarded with Star of the Year honors at the 61st annual Golden Apple Awards on Sunday. The Hollywood Women's Press Club hosted the luncheon. Sour Apple award recipient Jerry Springer, however, was a no-show.
Rock 'n' roll lyricist Kal Mann, who co-wrote such classic songs as Elvis Presley's "Teddy Bear" and Chubby Checker's "Let's Twist Again," died of Alzheimer's disease last Wednesday in Pompano Beach, Fla. He was 84.
Carol Burnett wed Brian Miller, a percussionist who is also a music contractor for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a few days before her CBS special aired Nov. 26, her spokeswoman told People. This is Burnett's third marriage.
Mark Wahlberg is being sued by his former bodyguard, Leonard Taylor, for $2 million, Taylor's lawyer told Reuters Monday. Taylor alleges the actor assaulted and beat him outside a lower Manhattan restaurant on Nov. 16. A spokesman for Wahlberg declined comment.
A U.S. District Court judge in Michigan reduced a $19 million judgement awarded to a Detroit publishing house for copyright infringement of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Jingle All the Way, ruling that "the bulk of the award was supportable neither by law nor in fact." Writer Brian Alan Webster and Murray Hill Publications had sued 20th Century Fox, claiming they stole the idea from Webster's screenplay Could This Be Christmas.
British actress Elizabeth Hurley's ex-beau, Steve Bing, is questioning his paternity of Hurley's baby, which she announced she was carrying last month. He released a statement Monday saying they were not in an exclusive relationship when she became pregnant but, "if indeed I am the father, I will be an extremely involved and responsible parent."
Nathan Lane has signed on to star in a biopic of the late comedian Jackie Gleason for Mirage Enterprises, written by Rob Festinger (In the Bedroom). No director has yet been attached.
RealNetworks Inc. and three of the leading record labels--Warner Music, EMI Group and Bertelsmann's BMG--will launch their online subscription venture MusicNet Tuesday. Subscribers will be able to get 100 Webcast sources and 100 downloads a month from a selection of over 75,000 songs.
DreamWorks' smash animated hit Shrek looks to be the top-selling DVD of all time, having sold 5.5 million copies and raking in an estimated $110 million since its Nov. 2 release date.