Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cloud Atlas (Spoilery) Preview Clip, Fantastic Fest Reception, TIFF Hugo Weaving Candids

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

As I mentioned last entry, Cloud Atlas had a “secret screening” at this year’s Fantastic Fest at the fabled Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. Directors Lana and Andy Wachowski were on hand to receive a standing ovation and field questions from the audience after the screening. Since Fantastic Fest is more targeted to genre fans than the more publicity-hungry TIFF, the response was much more uniformly positive this time around. (People attend festivals like this one because they want to see movies, and the higher-profile fests like TIFF because they want to be seen seeing movies… and there’s a certain sort of professional critic who’s immune to any film asking you to love it rather than calculatedly admire it.) But I’m not going to get into a discussion about that sort of thing right now. 😉 Suffice to say it’s more positive momentum for the film and produced another handful of reviews and other various posts worth a read, which I’ll excerpt and link to below.

But the most buzzed-about piece of Cloud Atlas advance publicity seems to be this clip, which appeared alongside a New York Times piece by David Mitchell, who wrote a bemused, delightful account of seeing the Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer and the talented cast adapt and bring cinematic life to his novel.  The clever fans at Jim Sturgess Online made sure the clip also appeared on YouTube as quickly as possible, which is great because the NYT version has no embedding. I should warn fans who haven’t read the novel and want to know as little as possible about the plot going in that this is very spoilery. I would advise most viewers who don’t already know the plot to stop the second Hanks says “I have fallen in love with Luisa Rey”. His internal monologue featured in earlier trailers, but here we’re shown the context.

The clip includes glimpses of all six storylines but focuses on Tom Hanks’ Isaac Sachs (in the 70s-set Luisa Rey nuclear thriller plot) as he contemplates how a seemingly-chance meeting might change his destiny. We also see Luisa Rey herself (Halle Berry), Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving in full “up to no good” mode), and–from other storylines– Jim Broadbent as Cavendish, Hanks as Henry Goose, Ben Whishaw as Frobisher, Bae Doona as Sonmi-451, David Gyasi as Autua and (from an aerial perspective) Hanks as Zachry and Berry as Meronym crossing the mountains. The clip is only two minutes long but occurs at an important juncture in all six plots. I’d call it a “moment of realization” for key characters. It’s also our first glimpse of how the film’s editing plays out, interlacing the six tales in a different manner than Mitchell did in the novel.

As someone who did read the novel, I’m amazed at how smoothly the interconnection plays. But on an intuitive level it’s a brilliant choice– as I read Mitchell’s novel, I would often stop to remember earlier plotlines (sometimes physically paging back in the book). The author’s technique of thematically linking his characters and plots is more subtle, forcing you as a reader to make certain connections or inferences, but he always points you do certain “this can’t be coincidental” details, and of course there are literal references to each prior plot within each succeeding one. All of what I’ve said might make the whole things sound hopelessly pretentious or unfathomable, but I honestly had no problem at all following everything. I can’t yet say if the film will be hard to follow for those who haven’t read the book, but I honestly don’t think it will be. If anything, the directors have made certain thematic elements more obvious and given each story more crowd-pleasing points (such as adding or enhancing the novel’s minimal love stories.)

Excerpts from new reviews and other responses to the TIFF and FF screenings:

Alan Cerny aka Nordling, Ain’t It Cool News: “This week, I may have seen two films that have changed my life….I cannot put these movies away in my mind, and I truly believe that 2012 has seen two of the most challenging, rewarding, flat-out amazing movies ever made.  And they both will likely fail at the box office….I might be wrong, but I don’t think so.  American moviegoers are lazy.  Anything remotely challenging, whether to their self-bloated sense of morality or their anti-intellectualism, is ostracized and thrown to the wayside.  I’m not even coming from a plce of elitism here either.  I fully admit to loving the occasional superhero movie that comes down the pipe, the fun genre movie.  But when a movie comes along that makes me feel alive, like CLOUD ATLAS and HOLY MOTORS did this week, I have to stand back and acknowledge the amazing skill and abilities of the filmmakers… These days, the optimism that Larry Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Twyker’s movie puts boldly on display is almost a revolutionary act.  With its multiple storylines and genres, and actors playing multiple roles, races, and sexes, CLOUD ATLAS will come across to some as overly complicated.  It isn’t.  The directors wave each story like a tapestry – a symphony, if you prefer, and CLOUD ATLAS has movements, highs and lows, and the way the movie is edited together gives the audience such an emotional ride that in the end we are full of the film’s beauty.”

Read After Seeing: “While watching the epic Cloud Atlas – I was wondering what it was about and what it all means. But by the end, when the themes came together, I appreciated the work and the effort and what it was trying to say – transcending boundaries; our responsibility for each other; the search for truth; learning from our past; the consequences and summation of our actions on each other. The film has an ambitious scope and a good cast. I’m a big Ben Whishaw fan so glad to see him as a composer. His story with Jim Broadbent, Halle Berry’s reporter and Xun Zhou with Jim Sturgess were the most interesting to me… It was fun seeing in the credits all the roles the actors played. Lots of surprise and delight and audience gasps.”

Rochefort, The Quiet Earth: “I don’t expect this latest film from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer to polarize audiences as much as an intentionally combative film like “Melancholia”, but if the critical response to date is anything to go by, we can look forward to at least a few debates over its worth. As for me, I can’t pretend. I’m not on the fence and I don’t need to see it a second time to know I already love it: “Cloud Atlas” is a full-course meal of cinema, genuinely daring, occasionally frustrating, often enthralling… The decision to intercut throughout is an inspired one, and is only jarring if you’re resistant to it… There’s a lot of audacity on display here, and some of the harshest criticisms will most likely be aimed at the hit and miss nature of having so many actors play characters of differing age, race, and even gender. Some of the makeup work takes a bit of getting used to, but the majority of the transformations are actually pretty fantastic, such as the Asianification of James D’arcy and Hugo Weaving or Hugh Grant’s nearly unrecognizable turn as a massive, tattooed cannibal chief. And since the filmmakers are telling six stories in such a relatively brief amount of time, we sometimes get only the broadest strokes of each, which relegates a few of them to occasional status as potboiler or melodrama. But I honestly believe Tykwer and the Wachowskis have made every effort possible to retain the best essences of Mitchell’s work, and you can feel a whole lot of love and hard work in every moment. ”

The Wachowskis t Fantastic Fest/

Jen Yamato, Movieline: “[T]he cumulative effect may prove disorienting to some viewers, particularly since some characters’ motivation can get lost in the sprawl. (The original script ran 275 pages, according to Andy Wachowski: “The book is so rich that we had a lot of dead babies in the end.”) But where Cloud Atlas soars is in its emotional richness and stirring sentimentality; it’s a challenging film that asks a lot of its audience but wears its heart on its sleeve, swelling with genuine humanity and a deceptively simple provocation: Will you allow yourself to be changed by the love and kindness of another?…Sturgess, transformed via prosthetics as a 22nd century Korean freedom fighter, is actually quite wonderful; disappearing into the role beneath his “Asian” face, Sturgess does some of his finest work to date and “transforms” into a bona fide action star in the Neo Seoul segment’s Matrix-esque action sequences… The race issue is just the opposite in Cloud Atlas — whites plays Asian, Asians play latina, men play women (and when it’s Hugo Weaving as a Nurse Ratched type, boy, whatta woman). And it’s not just exterior boundaries that get toyed with; Cloud Atlas’s movie stars play background parts in various segments, too. That Korean actress Doona Bae — a force to be reckoned with as the futuristic ‘fabricant’ Sonmi-451, a clone with soul and a Joan of Arc haircut — steals so much of the film is an acting coup and a stroke of meta-storytelling genius.”

Josh Gholson, “There was probably some expectation that the two would be pretentious mad-genius types, two filmmakers used to getting their way, with chips on the shoulders from the weak reception of their last two films, The Matrix Revolutions and Speed Racer. Yet, there they were, onstage at Fantastic Fest and winning the audience over in a big way. The Wachowskis are whip-smart, as already evidenced by their films, and both are naturally witty. Neither seemed like recluses; just remarkably down-to-earth creatives, excited to discuss their new and ambitious project made outside of the studio system… Cloud Atlas, based on the David Mitchell novel, is a remarkably positive film, and it provided a natural intersection of the Wachowskis’ thematic interests with those of German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), who is also one third of the directing team on the sprawling sci-fi adventure… It’s possibly the funniest, most apparently heartfelt film that any of the three of them have ever made, and a master class in transition of tone as well as how to juggle divergent storylines with cinematic clarity… Matrix fans probably won’t dig Cloud Atlas; Wachowski fans probably will. Genre fans can get mean and ugly, and I’m still confused by the general public reception to Matrix Revolutions… If there’s a takeaway, it’s that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. As long as you keep creating new and different films, the audience will move on… Time will be kind to the Matrix trilogy, and as more films as inventive as Cloud Atlas are created, time will be especially kind to the Wachowskis.”

Tickets to the Philadelphia Film Festival screening of Cloud Atlas on October 23 are now on sale; more details here.

And, finally, I’ve found a bunch of endearing candids of Hugo Weaving meeting up with director Andy Wachowski at the Toronto International Film Festival cast party on September 8. The first six photos are by Todd Gillis/iPhoto, the second five by Neil White/INF.

And even larger versions of the seven Cloud Atlas banners have turned up at Filmy-Keeda, via the film’s Indian distributor … I’ll repost the two featuring Hugo under the cut, the rest are here.

Also, there’s a new Hobbit poster featuring the dwarves, at the film’s Facebook page.

Cloud Atlas: Seven New Banners, Enhanced E-Book, More Reviews, Pics

Note: This is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

New promotional material for Cloud Atlas continues to appear on a near-daily basis; yesterday seven (!) new promotional banners debuted on thew film’s Facebook page and were quickly picked up by pretty much every movie site out there and reposted at varying sizes; I’ve included the largest versions I could find (under the cut) and will post them in chronological order. Hugo Weaving appears in those for the Luisa Rey and Timothy Cavendish storylines as the villainous Bill Smoke and Nurse Noakes, respectively.

Note : The Adam Ewing storyline doesn’t yet have a banner: it features Jim Sturgess as Adam Ewing, Tom Hanks as Henry Goose, David Gyasi as Autua, Bae Doona as Tilda, Hugo Weaving as Rev. Horrox (some who’ve seen the film have confirmed my suspicion that Reverends D’Arnoq and Horrox have been combined into one character), and Jim Broadbent as Capt. Mollyneaux, and is set in the 1850s. And I should give a Slight Spoiler Warning on my banner notes in case anyone wants to go in knowing as little as possible about who plays who… in a way, I envy anyone coming to the film with an innocent eye. Once you get in the “professional fan” business that almost never happens… but our favorite actors nonetheless reward us by still managing to surprise and beguile us in spite of our over-preparation. 😉

Letters From Zedelghem starring Ben Whishaw as Robert Frobisher and James D’Arcy as Rufus Sixsmith. Set in 1931 Belgium, the story also features Jim Broadbent as Vyvyan Ayrs, Halle Berry as Jocasta, Tom Hanks as the Hotel Clerk and Gotz Otto as Withers the Butler.

Half Lives: the First Luisa Rey Mystery stars Halle Berry as Luisa Rey, Keith David as Joe Napier and Hugo Weaving as Bill Smoke. The 1970s-set China Syndrome-ish nuclear espionage thriller also stars Tom Hanks as Isaac Sachs, James D’Arcy as the older Sixsmith (the only character to physically feature in two stories, though there are meta-references galore between plots) Hugh Grant as Grimaldi, Zhu Zhu as Meagan Sixsmith, Ben Whishaw as the record store clerk, David Gyasi as Lester Rey and Bae Doona as a Mexican woman who assists Luisa.

The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish is set in the present day and stars Jim Broadbent as the title character and Hugo Weaving as Nurse Noakes. Also featured but not pictured: Hugh Grant as Denholme Cavendish, Tom Hanks as Dermott “Duster” Hoggins, Susan Sarandon as Cavendish’s “lost love” (called “Ursula” in some cast lists, though if this is the case, she’s a very different character from the novel’s Ursula), Ben Whishaw as another of the nursing home denizens, and Alistair Petrie as Felix Finch.

An Orison of Sonmi-451 is set in a futuristic, corporate oligarchic Korea (called Nea So Copros in the novel and Neo Seoul in the film)  and stars Bae Doona as Sonmi- 451– she features in all three banners highlighting this storyline. Jim Sturgess, who plays Hae-Joo Chang (an apparent synthesis of the Chang and Hae-Joo Im characters in the novel) is seen in two banners, and the gluttonous overseer (called Seer Rhee in the novel and played by Hugh Grant in the film) is in the first one. Also featured but not pictured: James D’Arcy as The Archivist, Zhou Xun as Yoona- 939, Zhu Zhu as another Papa Song waitress, Keith David as An Kor Apis, Hugo Weaving as Control, Tom Hanks as the Film Cavendish and Susan Sarandon as Ma Arak Na and Halle Berry as a “male Korean doctor”.

Finally, Sloosha’s Crossin’ An’ Everythin’ After is set about 100 years after the events of the Sonmi storyline and unfolds in a post-apocalyptic, tribal-warfare striven Hawaii. Pictured as Tom Hanks as Zachry and Halle Berry as Meronym. Not pictured: Zhou Xun as Zachry’s wife Rose, Hugo Weaving as Old Georgie, Hugh Grant as the lead cannibal, Susan Sarandon as the Abbess, Jim Sturgess as Zachry’s father Adam, and David Gyasi as “a presidential figure” (possibly Meronym’s contact Duophysite).

Note: some of my casting notes are guesses based on the novel, early reviews and actor interviews as well as the promotional material now available. The film version has substantially changed some characters (including their names and basic physical characteristics) and omitted or synthesized others. For example, Keith David plays a character named “Kupaka Apis” who appears nowhere in the novel but is apparently related to An Kor Apis, a mysterious figure David plays in the Sonmi storyline.  He could be an ancestor of An Kor Apis in just about any storyline (The Adam Ewing plot would be my best guess)– or a descendant in Sloosha’s Crossin’. Neither IMDb nor Wikipedia has a completely correct cast list because both are crowd-sourced and have some omissions or inaccuracies. Ironically, casting notes on the smaller roles at these sites are more likely to be accurate, because they’re posted by the actors or their representation personally.

I understand several of my guesses might be wrong… I’m not trying to be definitive before I’ve seen the film. As many viewers who HAVE seen the film have confirmed, part of the fun is guessing who’s who, and how the novel adheres to or changes the novel.

By the way, the film’s Facebook Page just added an enlarged version of the Toronto Cast Party from September 8:

L to R: Zhu Zhu, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Susan Sarandon and Bae Doona in front of Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, David Gyasi, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Andy Wachowski (behind), James D’Arcy, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Alistair Petrie.

And thanks again to the James D’Arcy fans for calling this new premiere photo of Hugo to my attention:

Photo: MTime; they have a gallery featuring several other actors from the film as well. This one’s slightly overexposed, but I like it anyhow. 😉

If you still haven’t read the novel, or want to read it again before you see the film (or after) there’s now an Enhanced E-Book “movie tie-in edition” available for pre-order (it’s officially released October 9) featuring heretofore unseen film footage and interviews with the actors, “including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving and James D’Arcy”.  It’s in Kindle format, but you can download free Kindle software from Amazon for computer viewing if you have a rival e-reader or, like me, bought the old school Dead Tree Format. (I’ll probably buy the enhanced version too, but am eternally grateful the paperback was on hand last October during the 12-day power outage…  and it’ll be equally handy if, like some Cloud Atlas characters, we eventually find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic, post-technological state.) 😉

If you want to do something nice for your fellow fans (and people who, like the James D’Arcy faithful, have provided invaluable research assistance in following this film’s progress) you can buy the Kindle Enhanced edition via Jim Sturgess Online for the regular (and very reasonable) Amazon price. The Orison Edition is not yet available, though it may be bundled with the inevitable Blu-Ray. 😉 And speaking of Jim Sturgess, he gave an interesting interview to Vulture (as Hugo Weaving did earlier this month) discussing the challenges of playing six characters in Cloud Atlas. He also (one hopes) provides the final word on the cross-racial casting controversy: if Bae Doona’s mother was OK with Stugess (or other actors, including Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon) playing Asian characters, you should be too.

New review excerpts:

Tom Clift, Moviedex: “Cloud Atlas is a big, bold, beautiful work of staggering ambition and artistry… The casts’ work is excellent bar none, although quite frankly, so unrecognisable does the makeup sometimes render them that the end credit revelation as to who played who in what segment is more jaw-dropping than the actual performances… Astoundingly, out of six stories over vastly different scale and tone, not one feels unnecessary or boring. Indeed, masterful editing – along with a beautiful score that’s as multifaceted as the movie it’s accompanying – provides the film with a wonderful ebb and flow… Yet no matter the profundity, the best thing about Cloud Atlas is that it always maintains a sense of intimacy…. To try and write conclusively on Cloud Atlas after just one viewing feels like something of a fruitless endeavour. This is an important film; a film that will deservedly be watched, rewatched, discussed and studied for many generations to come. It is stained glass cinema: shards of disparate splendour made breathtakingly whole.”

Moira Romano, Myetvmedia: “Visually the movie is superb employing a number of cinematic techniques to transport the viewer across time. The story requires the full attention of the viewer. There are no simple plot lines. Each character is on a quest and has a mission. How they accomplish this will have impacts that will influence generations to come…. The story illustrates the significance of keeping a record of our human journeys and the passing down of knowledge that we as a civilization can learn from. The contribution of each character is very powerful as the tale is variously narrated, portrayed through dream sequences, played out in the present, seen through flashbacks and in futuristic worlds….Cloud Atlas is an extraordinary movie with an inspiring, thoughtful message that will stay with the viewer well after you leave the theatre. ”

Myetvmedia also posted a new YouTube clip featuring footage of the directors and cast intro from the Cloud Atlas premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, filmed from a viewpoint slightly closer to the stage than the official version:

In non-Cloud Atlas Hugo Weaving news, Last Ride will finally debut on US DVD next month (October 16 to be precise) and is currently available for pre-order; alas, no US Blu-Ray has yet been announced. (There is a German version, the only Blu-Ray currently available, but I have no idea how enhanced it is, or what its extra features might be; since there’s no Australian Blu-Ray and director Glendyn Ivins hasn’t mentioned that version, I suspect it’s the Australian DVD edition reformatted.) If you’re a Netflix subscriber, you might have noticed it’s moved from your Saved Queue to your active queue.  I recently found another glowing review in The New Republic for the film’s US release this past summer… here’s an excerpt:

Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic: “The Australian outback, the setting for most of Last Ride, an extraordinary film for which the locale is a quiet, almost secret catalyst. Directed by Glendyn Ivin, with a screenplay derived by Mac Gudgeon from a novel by Denise Young, it needs only two major characters to create a picture that begins as a bare-knuckled adventure and becomes a folk tale. At the last we are almost gratifyingly ashamed for not having seen from the first the quasi-myth that it becomes….Kev is a man in his thirties, a rough character not untouched by the law, who has a ten-year-old son named Chook. The bulk of the film is Kev’s flight from the law and to a possible new life accompanied by his son… But an almost lofty effect in Ivin’s view of the proceedings, plus his sense of the awesome environment as a silent character, alerts us for surprise….This deepened view extends backward to touch everything we have seen before. And that view is enriched by the very end of the picture. Last Ride is then seen as an attempt to render with words and pictures the sad lyricism of a country ballad. Ivin, with his loving direction, lets this gradually come through to us. Hugo Weaving, a leading Australian actor, makes Kev exceptionally sound along every shade of his register. And once again a breathtaking performance by a child. Tom Russell is Chook most endearingly.”

I bet Hugo would be thrilled to hear that the reviewer perceives Kev, not one of his more manicured characters, to be “in his thirties”. 😉

‘I promise not to try and drown you this time, son” 😉
Hugo Weaving and Tom Russell in Last Ride

Breaking News: There’s apparently been a surprise preview screening of Cloud Atlas at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX with the directors in attendance. More news on this as it becomes available.

Cloud Atlas 3 TV spots, Festival Screenings, IMAX; More Hobbit Updates

Note: This is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

No major breaking Hugo Weaving news lately, but two of his biggest projects in years– Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit– continue rolling out promotional material. Cloud Atlas in particular is picking up steam as its October 26 opening approaches, though that’s far from the first time people will be able to see the film. The official premiere will be held October 24 in Los Angeles. Before then, there will be screenings at:

The New Yorker Festival, 6 October (sold out, but some extra tix will be made available at the box office on October 5 at noon),  at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 8 (tickets now on sale) at the Chicago International Film Festival on October 17 (no doubt special to the Wachowskis, as that’s their home turf; more info here), and The Philadelphia Film Festival (more info here) between October 18 and 28 (specific dates announced September 28). The directors ARE scheduled to appear in New York and Chicago, and I’d guess they’ll be at the other two as well, as they’ve gone all out in promoting this project. The actors probably will not reconvene until the premiere… I could be wrong about that, but many of them are currently working on other projects at the moment; Hugo Weaving is in Sydney and presumably taking a break. Coincidentally, Oranges and Sunshine had its modest but well-received American premiere at the Hamptons Fest last year… I was fortunate enough to go. The film’s director and author Margaret Humphries were on hand. This time I’ll be going to the New Yorker Festival screening, though I’m still working out travel logistics… I’ll add in other preview dates as they become available. I hope some of you are able to go!  😉 It’s frustrating for European fans that the film won’t open overseas until early next year… all the more so because it’s based on a British novel. When will studios outgrow these tiresome delaying tactics and give fans worldwide equal opportunities to see films at similar times? Don’t they know a lot of us talk globally on the internet? 😉 Usually American Hugo Weaving fans have to wait months or years to see his Aussie films too; none of it is fair to the artists or their fans.

But if you’re among the fans who have to wait for its formal opening date, you’ll have the consolation of being able to see it in IMAX in some locations. For a film of this scale and visual beauty, it’s a natural choice, and I’m glad Warner Bros has gambled in its favor. More details at The Hollywood Reporter, Screen Rave, Screen Rant and (for the full press release) The only info about the premiere thusfar is via this sweepstakes entry on — they’re offering a grand prize of airfare, luxury hotel lodgings and tix to the event  (go fill it out. I’ll wait.) 😉 Again, there’s no official word on whether or not the full cast will be at the premiere, or at any of the festival screenings, but I’m inclined to think yes to the former (at least some of the cast will definitely be available) and probably not to the latter. But we’ll have to wait and see.

By the way, Cloud Atlas now has a UK Facebook page in addition to the US one.

Now to those TV spots– I haven’t actually seen any of these on TV yet, but that should change soon:

The first emphasizes the romance plots and a sampling of rave reviews:

The second highlights the villains, mostly played by Hugo Weaving (we see Rev. Horrox, and Bill Smoke) and Hugh Grant:

The third one goes back to the Larger Themes angle of the theatrical trailer and extended first look:

More response to the trailers, marketing, et al at First Showing, Cinema Blend, Movie Carpet, IGN,  and The Film Stage. There’s an in-depth interview with actor Jim Sturgess at Bullett (via Jim Sturgess Online) . Susan Sarandon discussed the film (and her dogs’ Twitter accounts) on Jimmy Fallon about a week ago. The Movie Carpet article featured a slew of new banners, posters and other promotion, including a look at two of Hugo’s characters here:

I do believe that’s Nurse Noakes glaring out at poor Timothy Cavendish on the left, and of course Bill Smoke is in the one on the right. The Adam Ewing and Frobisher plots get short shrift in a lot of these, unfortunately… I guess it’s harder to sell period pieces. By the way, the balding Korean character on the far right is Hugh Grant… he’s also seen briefly in the Papa Song section of the earliest trailer. As far as Hugo’s characters go, we’ve now seen Rev Horrox twice (he’s the officious man with muttonchops), Bill Smoke quite a lot (because Hugo will never be permitted to live down Agent Smith), Old Georgie a few times (purely visual so far) and glimpses of Noakes and the Korean official known as “Control” according to some sources– there’s no such character in the novel, so I assume he’s a composite of several government or authority figures. He’s heart briefly in the first, extended trailer saying “The problem you present is a political one”. No one has yet identified Hugo’s character in the second (Frobisher) story, so it’s probably a cameo. If I were to guess based on the novel, I’d go with Bicycle Policeman. 😉

I’ve heard some of the banners are being used on bus adverts already. As always, if you know where higher res versions can be found, do let us know.

Speaking of which, the James D’Arcy fans have come through with these larger, lovelier WireImage pics of Hugo with Hugh Grant. (Taken by Jeff Vespa 9 September at TIFF):

Hugo should work with James D’Arcy more often. These guys have astonishing resources and are wonderful help in tracking down material. When fans of character actors network, beautiful things happen. 😉 (There are lots of Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, David Wenham, etc fans I still keep in touch with… because they’re as great as the actors they celebrate. And I just know Hugo is going to work with mosty of those actors again.) 😉

Breaking news: new, LARGE Icelandic promo banner:

[Has been taken down at site of origin. Does anyone have a copy?)

Lana and Andy Wachowski gave an in-depth, over-40-minute interview (their first radio interview) to WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift a few days ago… very much worth a listen if you’ve loved any of their work. They discuss the film at length, and aren’t afraid of personal questions, though none are too intrusive:

The latest review excerpts:

Andrew Robinson, Film School Rejects: “It’s easy when watching Cloud Atlas to become too involved with the details to recognize the overall point. Each of the individual stories are all so enthralling that by the time we cutaway to another that we’re pining for more with the story we just left. Seeing each of the main actors, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Keith David, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving and Doona Bae all appear as different roles throughout time gives this cyclical feel to the film which aids its thematic core. That being, regardless of what impediments stand in the way of righteousness, human nature will always strive towards love, happiness and togetherness….With all of its philosophical goals, the movie still delivers from an entertainment stand point. It blends the deep thoughts with piercing action and brilliant climactic points to each story within the story. Although two-and-a-half house seems daunting, the film holds interest easily throughout.  A+”

Lucy O’Brien, IGN: ” And while Cloud Atlas may not be a perfect movie, it is a unique one.  And in today’s mainstream Hollywood, that is a rare commodity. Just pay a visit to your local multiplex, where sequels, prequels and remakes dominate its screens, where the only ‘original’ films showing are those based on massive cross-platform media franchises…. With all this considered, it’s unsurprising the Cloud Atlas trio faced a lack of enthusiasm as they began to shop their screenplay around. Even after they had a cast of considerable clout signed on (the film stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving, amongst others), there was resistance.  It suffered a damning combination – not only was the story an unknown entity outside of those who’d read the book (and we’re not talking a Harry Potter or a Hunger Games readership here), it was massively ambitious. As Lana Wachowski understated very early on, it was a hard sell…. Cloud Atlas is a rarity then, amongst the cycle of sequels, remakes and reboots, and this rarity makes it important. With its interconnecting stories, universal themes, multiple role casting, ethnicity/gender switch ups, and epic, overarching narrative spanning half a millennium, it is truly, audaciously new (regardless of the fact that it is an adaptation.)  And without new ideas, where is there to go? How is cinema to be pushed forward? Without new ideas, we’d have no 2001: A Space Odyssey, which means we’d have no Star Wars, which means we’d have no Matrix, which means we’d have no Inception. The knock-on effect will cease if Hollywood endlessly appeals to built-in audiences. ‘New’ is an endangered species, and it has never been more important.”

Kyle Malcharek, Kyle’s Cinematic Inclination: “One of the major conceits of the film is the reuse of actors in multiple different roles (up to 6 each). The meaning of this in the context of the film has been widely discussed and opinions vary. Personally, I think that the primary reason Tom Tykwer and Lana & Andy Wachowski did this because it’s a cool thing to do. However, my interpretation with regard to the film is that every character portrayed by each actor epitomizes a particular aspect of humanity. The idea of reincarnation of souls is also implied in the film (and book), but in a completely different way (using a common birthmark), so the recurring actors must be explainable in another way…. Despite its huge budget and shiny effects, Cloud Atlas is a very deep film and one I look forward to rewatching more than once. I can honestly say that I haven’t given more thought to any other film I’ve seen this year. Due to this depth, it will (and does already) have its critics. That is the joy of movies like this; they make people feel strongly one way or the other.”

David Baldwin, We Got This Covered: “Broadbent is great in all of his roles, as are Hugo Weaving and James D’Arcy who appear as bit players in many of the stories…. Taking into account all elements at play, Cloud Atlas is a frustrating film without easy answers. Indecision and imperfection abound throughout the film, but its wild ambition and astoundingly large scope is simply marvelous to behold…. There has not been this huge a gamble in filmmaking since Avatar and I genuinely fear for it because I know not all audiences will be as kind to it as I was. But I can only hope that most will give it a chance if only to be left completely breathless by what they witness and experience.”

Finally (on the Cloud Atlas front) the film’s Facebook page recently posted a larger version of the Bill Smoke image originally seen in the promotional slideshow back in July. Some film sites hadn’t noticed it before and proclaimed it “a new image“… it isn’t, but good to see, nonetheless.


There are a few new tidbits on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as well, though nothing as momentous as the debut of the second, multiple-ending trailer recently. (If you missed it, see the previous Hugonuts entry or the Official Hobbit Website.) For analysis of the trailer, screencaps and new images (including a new, Bilbo-centric poster), see The Hobbit Films, We Are Movie Geeks, TIME online, Comic Book Resources, Flickering Myth and (of course) The BBC has news of the film’s Official Royal Premiere in London on December 12, two days in advance of the official opening, and a couple weeks after the Wellington Premiere. (The news report lists the cast but doesn’t specify if they’ll be in attendance.) Finally, if you want to be read bedtime stories by Gollum (and who doesn’t?) 😉 go here. And if you really want advance tickets far in advance for An Unexpected Journet, TORn reports that you should be ready at noon on November 7 (….in the US).

New Hobbit Trailer Arrives With Four “Bonus” Endings, Screencaps, Cloud Atlas Premiere Candids

Note: This is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

The new Hobbit trailer has finally arrived and has dutifully been reposted all over the internet… I’m happy to report that, yes, we finally have some Elrond footage in this one. This is the official version:

If you go to the official Hobbit website, though, you can see four alternate endings, including one with more Hugo Weaving footage which explains the origins of “Sting”, the Elven sword Frodo later obtains in Lord of The Rings. Unfortunately none of the four alternate versions can be directly embedded yet, though I’ll add them the moment this changes. The only change is to the final scene in each case, but in my personal opinion, the four “alternate” versions are better than the “official” version, which, though amusing (love James Nesbitt’s remark) suffers from slightly dodgy CG. The other four versions are more character-driven, still wryly funny, and make one interested in seeing how it all plays out. A lot is familiar to anyone who’s read the book, but the tone is distinctly darker, so the film is more of a companion piece to Jackson’s earlier trilogy. (I have no issues with this because… well, obviously, I rather liked Jackson’s trilogy.) 😉 Anyhow, here are links to the other four versions: Sting (this is the one Hugo fans will probably like best), Bilbo, Gollum, Gandalf.

Update: someone has posted a compilation of all four alternate endings (out of context) on YouTube. I still recommend going to the official website and seeing these as they were designed to be seen– and I know some of you will be watching this thing over and over again anyhow. 😉 But if you’re really pressed for time, here you go:

Here are some preliminary screencaps:

I think we’ve had our first Figwit sighting! (there on the right…)

Here are the “official” still frames released yesterday to the media, before the trailer came out:

Some fans are claiming Hugo’s been digitally “de-aged” in this… those closeups pretty much disprove that. Certainly he’s wearing makeup like all of the other actors, but I’m glad they haven’t tried to use CG on his face. I can suspend disbelief– that’s why you hire great actors in the first place.

Finally, I was finally able to access my WireImages account and get unmarked copies of these TIFF photos; they’re not large or high-res, but nice to see anyhow. All were taken on September 8-9 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Those withy Katrina were taken September 8 by Eric Charbonneau, those with Hugh Grant on September 9 by Jeff Vespa.

Pics of Hugo at Bell Shakespeare, More Cloud Atlas coverage, Hobbit Week

Note: This is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Cloud Atlas is still spaking a lot of debate and curiosity out there, so I’ll post another selection of review links. Also, Peter Jackson is revving early Hobbit promotion into high gear… only a couple more months until An Unexpected Journey premieres. Can you believe it? Indications so far are that it’ll be well worth the wait.

First, though, are a pair of intriguing new photos of Hugo at the opening night of Bell Shakespeare’s production of the John Webster play The Duchess of Malfi, taken this past July 13. They originated at photo galleries at The Daily Telegraph and the Wentworth Courier. John Webster was a Jacobean playwright who wrote dark, revenge-driven phantasmagoric plays a bit after Shakespeare’s time. Hugo starred in an STC adaptation of his The White Devil in 2000. John Bell, founder of Bell Shakespeare, costarred as Serebryakov in STC’s recent, blockbuster production of Uncle Vanya. Which was in rehearsals for its Lincoln Center Festival run when these were taken. This production was mounted at the Sydney Opera House and starred his daughter Lucy Bell. So we’re seeing a trend of acting dynasties in great Australian actors here. 😉

Photo:  Robin Amadio

Hugo and son Harry Greenwood
Photo: Richard Dobson

That second photo will probably make a few of you feel old… sorry about that. I remember when Harry was a little kid scurrying around in photos on the Matrix set. 😉

Another pair of photos from the Torionto International Film Festival premiere of Cloud Atlas have surfaced; alas, even Getty Photo mermbers can’t see these without watermarks unless they pony up. Pity, because they’re wonderful, earthy portraits.

Both: Jeff Vespa/Contour/Getty Images

I did manage to clean this one off a bit, though. 😉 If anyone has clean copies of the other two pics at WireImage of these two actors, please let me know! I do have an account there, but can’t access it. Probably related to my unending computer problems. 😉

Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant   Photo: Eric Charbonneau/WireImages

And Tom Hanks Online had three more group shots from the September 9 Photo Call which I hadn’t seen:

Rear L to R: Keith David, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Halle Berry, David Gyasi, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant
Front L to R: Susan Sarandon, Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Hanks, Jim Surgess, Zhou Xun

Here’s one of the promotional banners for the film:

Wish I could find a higher-res version, but that’s the best I could do for now. This time Jim Broadbent didn’t make the cut.. somehow Hugh Grant always does, though his roles are smaller. (Yes, that’s Korean Hugh Grant, aka Seer Rhee. You got a problem with that, take it up with Hugh. But I’ll warn you, he said he’s kept all his cannibal gear from the film.) 😉

New Reviews:

Philip Raby, Front Row Films:  “At the risk of inviting hoots of derision, and allowing for the fact that it is not my favourite genre, I firmly believe that Cloud Atlas is the greatest sci fi film of all time. I will explain why…. I don’t often see a film with 1400 people, most of whom have queued for hours to see a new film, and they may be more willing to love it than any old multiplex audience. But the fact is, not one left, we all laughed as well as thrilled, and everyone applauded at the end, including me. I loved the fact that the three directors (Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana – formerly Larry – Wachowski) have taken on such a huge project and tackled it with verve, wit and panache. There are dazzling digital fight scenes, foot chases, comedy sequences, and binding it all together a system of editing that keeps us engrossed at the same time as keeping us in the loop as to where we are…. OK, so let’s talk about the Greatest Sci Fi Film Ever Made claim. My opening gambit is to ask what are the other contenders. I will deal with the obvious ones. Metropolis? Impressive, but hard work. 2001? Dated and pretentious. Blade Runner? Style over substance, full of rain and angst and Ford trying to look cool. Star Wars? I assume you’re joking. The thing about most sci fi is that it takes itself so seriously. There are two basic sci fi messages. 1. We are all doomed and 2. We are all one. Cloud Atlas tends more to the latter, but rather than heading off down the Terence Malick path of woozy spirituality, CA is a lot of fun.”

(For the record, I disagree with this guy’s assessments of 2001 and Metropolis, which are two of the greatest movies ever made. I do agree with him about the others. Can’t say where I’d place Cloud Atlas in this spectrum until I see it, but by Ray Bradbury’s definition, the entire work (film version or novel) can be categorized as science fiction: scifi isn’t defined primarily by zap guns, future settings or fantastical elements so much as speculation on how technology (and… uh… science) impacts the lives of those unprepared to deal with its ramifications, as well as the choices human beings are forced to make whehn confronted with change. The overarching plot of Cloud Atlas involves civilizations being corrupted and eventually laid waste by human greed and unregulated technological excesses; even in the earliest-dated segments, groups of people are threatened by more advanced societies. So the whole story is science fiction in a classic sense.

Anton Sirius, Ain’t It Cool News: ” The film hops back and forth between each story, gradually teasing out links between them, while also featuring nearly the same cast of actors in each playing sometimes wildly different roles. The result is not the confusing mishmash it might have been: each story and each time period is clearly distinct from each other in look and feel, and thanks to makeup, language and accent there’s never any confusion about who or what you’re seeing on screen…. That, alone, makes Cloud Atlas an impressive achievement, but there’s a lot more going on in it than just some nice plot-juggling. On a certain level it’s also a puzzle movie. Each story shows up as a story in the succeeding time period: the young composer, for instance, finds a torn copy of a book that purports to be a journal of that 1800s ocean voyage, while the aging publisher is sent a manuscript presenting the ’70s investigation as a crime novel. The entire film is also bookended by an old storyteller entertaining children around a fire. Those touches adds a nice bit of uncertainty to the proceedings, creating a smidge of doubt as to whether the stories are supposed to be ‘real’ or merely fictions within the larger fiction. There’s also a fun game of ‘spot the actor’ that goes on once you realize how the casting operates, as the roles of some very recognizable faces are not always obvious…. That uncertainty is actually necessary, because unfortunately the film felt just a little too simplified and straight-forward thematThe film’s strengths more than balance out those missteps though. In terms of cinematography and effects it looks amazing across all six time periods while still always feeling like one movie instead of six different ones, which is even more astounding when you consider the Wachowskis shot three segments and Tykwer shot three using two completely separate crews. The performances are for the most part very good (Jim Broadbent will never let you down, while of the supporting cast Hugh Grant of all people is tremendous) and certainly its themes are worthy ones, even if they get treated a bit shallowly.”

John C., One Movie Five Views: “Many thought that David Mitchell’s 2004 novel Cloud Atlas would be unfilmable, but directors Andy and Lana Wachowski along with Tom Tykwer have proven them wrong with this epic adaptation.  With a top notch cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Jim Sturgess among others, the film spans a thousand years as we watch the souls of the characters morph from heroes to villain and how one mistake or act of kindness ripples through generations.  The great cast of actors convincingly play multiple roles and the closing credits are sure to make you gasp as we realize just who played the many different characters with the help of stunning makeup.  At first we have to pay attention see the connections between the stories, allowing the film to play almost like a mystery as it all brilliantly comes together and builds up to something deep and profoundly thought out.  A bold and ambitious piece of filmmaking, Cloud Atlas demands more than one viewing, asking the audience to pay attention but offering a hugely satisfying pay off in return.”

Battle Creek Enquirer: “Imagine Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov writing their own versions of “The Hours,” then consolidating them into a single screenplay. That will give you a vague idea of what to expect from this head-spinning, time-jumping, astoundingly ambitious epic, which casts Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving in multiple roles in stories that unfold in the Pacific Islands in 1894, in 1973 San Francisco, in 2012 London, in 1936 England and in the far future. Based on David Mitchell’s novel, the film speculates that there are links between every era and that one person’s actions, good or bad, can alter the destiny of someone decades later. Reactions were all over the place, with a few proclaiming it a masterpiece and others deeming it a laughable fiasco; amazingly, you can see both points of view. Portions of the movie fall absolutely flat (especially a sequence set in a post-apocalyptic society in which Hanks and Berry have to speak a language that sounds sort of like Shakespearean Hillbilly) while others are exciting, clever and visually arresting. If nothing else, “Cloud Atlas” will certainly prompt some lively post-show conversations.”

Interesting how several critics contend some sequences are better than others, but no one agrees on which ones “don’t work”. 😉

Hilary Butler, Filmoria: “The actors of Cloud Atlas, and there are more than a few, were given the very unique opportunity to play multiple roles within the same movie, as most have some part, no matter how big or small, within every story. Using the stellar make-up and costumes (which will inevitably get an Oscar nod) they were able to transcend race, age and even gender. It must have been a dream come true for them, and some look like they have more than their fair share of fun (case in point, Hugo Weaving). However, Jim Broadbent probably fares best, his main story gathering a rousing applause by the audience at its climax, as he changes characters seamlessly despite the least amount of make-up to hide behind. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are probably the most in focus though, and to be able to act along with the difficult dialect required in their futuristic setting is a feat unto itself. It certainly helps to maintain the devotion to the source material. However, in essence, there is not a bad performance in the large group of actors assembled here…. On that note, it should be said that this review comes from someone that has read the novel, quite recently in fact, and it would be my recommendation to read the book before you see the film. While the jumping around in time can take some getting used to, at least having read the source material you can see where the filmmakers are going. I can understand that without this guidance, the film could be muddled and confusing, a contributing factor, I’m sure, to its few detractors. This is a film that begs to be enjoyed. It’s part art-house, part blockbuster, so doing a bit of research before you enter will ensure you get the most from the movie… It was said that this was a film that would never be able to be made, a vision of how our souls are shaped through time. But, the directors made the impossible, possible. They blend together the stories from different eras and genres with relative ease. Comedy, drama, and sci-fi all exist here in almost perfect harmony. It is, quite simply, a cinematic accomplishment.”

Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage: “Mitchell’s novel is full of lofty insights distilled here in way that aligns tonal similarities together. Imprisonment, escape, action, drama, and comedy exist in each of the six stories, growing stronger alongside their partners’ equally emotive shift. Epiphanies occur simultaneously and yet decades apart. Mankind is always left for dead and yet able to rise to the occasion when necessary. The phrase “the weak are meat and the strong do eat” comes up often and it is very apt when concerning the themes of slavery and power running rampant, but what the strong don’t realize until too late is how the weak won’t stay prone forever. Eventually they’ll have a spark of recognition to act legally, illegally, morally, or amorally. Retribution and justice will be served and the cycle will restart… As such, it’s a brilliant move using the same actors in each component. Alluding to reincarnation, soul transfers, and the like, I never thought the familiar faces hindered the whole once. People in the audience complained about feeling it was like someone was flipping the channels on them, but to me every transition was thematically relevant. We cross between timelines at precise moments to strengthen what came before and what comes next. The emotional impact couldn’t be the same if told linearly. We need the mixed bits and pieces to understand the optimism for the future otherwise hidden beneath the depression and tragedy… There’s more at play than what the surface reveals and you must give into the artifice to let the spectacle consume you and help explain how these souls are passed into new bodies and new lives.  A”

Brandon Wall-Fudge, Sanctuary Review: “Many claimed it as one of the many “unfilmable” literary works. But alas, the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer didn’t listen to naysayers and, for the most part, we should be glad they didn’t… The cast of Cloud Atlas is expansive, but many actors are used for multiple roles.  It may seem like a confusing concept, but seeing as the film is a time jumping tale of intertwining stories, the recurring cast seems perfectly fitting.  With such a large cast, it may be difficult to pinpoint who brings what to the film, but Cloud Atlas certainly has one standout.  Tom Hanks brings the most versatile performance to Cloud Atlas. ..Cloud Atlas has a nice balance of action and story.  The time jumping, genre blending epic works well for the most part, although it does confuse a bit near its start.  Aside from the problems with the CGI, the film does have a fair bit to offer.”

There’s also a brief primer on the novel’s structure ansd themes (and confirmation that Hugo has indeed been cast as Horrox in the Adam Ewing sequence of the film) at Tom McGee’s blog, one of the more enlightened assessments of the casting choices (and why it’s not “a gimmick”) at, More on Halle Berry’s characters (and some quotes from various TIFF press conferences and interviews) at Books N Review,  a profile of Bae Doona, who has one of the most universally lauded performances in the film as Sonmi-451, and Chosun Ilbo (English),  and a new Susan Sarandon interview with more enthusiasm for Cloud Atlas at Indie Wire.

Finally, as I hinted up front, it’s officially Hobbit Week (according to Peter Jackson, anyhow) and we’ve been treated to another batch of new stills from the first film, including the first image of Sylvester McCoy’s Radagast the Brown, more dwarf action, Gollum and Gandalf. No new Hugo material for awhile now, but we all knew going in that Elrond isn’t a major character in The Hobbit, so we’ll have to wait and see how much supplemental material he’ll get to flesh out in films 2 and three. Go to Empire Online, Screen Rant, Radio Times and (of course) TORN for a look at the new images… there have actually been several batches this month. But the most exciting news is probably that we’ll finally have an official trailer for An Unexpected Journey on September 19, ie in two days, plus “special content for the fans”. (Oooooh!) 😉 (The first trailer was technically a “teaser”, assembled before the film was complete.) Here’s PJ’s announcement… let’s hope we finaly get to see Elrond footage this time around!