Cloud Atlas Production Stills, Reviews, TIFF Photos; Hobbit White Council Poster

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.

Sorry for the delay in posting new material; I’ve been indisposed with various RL complications and scheduling conflicts– none too serious, I assure you. (Rumors that Bill Smoke tampered with my car are completely unfounded… regardless of some quips by those following my Twitter feed. 😉 My car simply blew a tire during a job.) There continues to be a deluge of new Cloud Atlas material appearing online each day, in addition to “new” finds from the TIFF premiere. In fact there’s so much new Cloud Atlas material that it’s be less complicated to start off with Other Hugo News this time.

The most impressive item under that heading would be the new White Council poster which has appeared on several movie sites (including TORn and Flicks and Bits this week and features a composite of several scenes and portraits of Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Christopher Lee (Saruman)– some previously seen, some new. All are artists’ renderings rather than film stills. It’s unknown if this is an “official” poster, an unofficial one or a fan’s effort based on existing material– if it is the latter, it’s pretty impressive. Questions have arisen because this debuted on a poster sales site rather than any website officially connected to the film. At any rate, fans of any of these actors will want to take a look.

In other Hobbit News: there’s a new, dwarf-centric banner, an interview with 2nd Unit Director (and the former Smeagol) Andy Serkis at Comic Book Movie, and, speaking of Gollum, a Riddle Game at the official site.

Hugo’s 2009 film Last Ride continues its belated (but very welcome) US rollout with a screening at the Cleveland Cinematheque tomorrow (Oct 5) and Oct 7. There are new, positive reviews and further details at Cleveland Movie Blog and The Examiner.

Now… Cloud Atlas. The Fantastic Fest screening last week continues to yield very positive reviews, which have boosted the film’s Tomatometer Rating (Rotten Tomatoes) to a very fresh 78%… very impressive for a film this complex and unconcerned with Hollywood formula. Material from the Toronto Film Fest also continues to turn up, including new Hugo pics and footage. I’ll add as much as I can below, with apologies for my lack of organization. 😉

I posted a pic of Hugo chatting with News Talk 1010’s reporter back on the night of the TIFF Premiere (September 8)…

I’ve finally found their footage. Includes interviews with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Keith David in addition to Hugo Weaving.

Australian photographer David Joshua Ford created a gallery of Australian TIFF 2012 attendees at Billabout, which included these two of Hugo:

And here’s a pic of Hugo heading to the September 8 after-party, courtesy Contact Music:


(Photo: I. Kavanaugh/WENN/via Contact Music)

Festivalgoer extraordinaire Serena Tung posted a full page loaded with TIFF pics of herself with pretty much every notable actor at TIFF, including many with the Cloud Atlas cast. Here she is with Hugo:

Here’s a larger version of one of Jemal Countess’s Getty pics of the September 9 press conference:

And an extra-large version of one of the pics taken last September 16 on the film’s Glasgow set, courtesy the Washington post:

Some wonderful new production stills from Cloud Atlas made their way online today courtesy the lovely folks at Jim Sturgess Online, including these three of Hugo as Bill Smoke and Old Georgie:

There’s a slightly different selection of photos at this Turkish website (same three of Hugo, though). I love these little glimpses further into the film’s vision of key events in the novel… so far, in my opinion, they’ve gotten everything exactly right, or have added new elements that hadn’t occurred to me (or, possibly, to David Mitchell, who implied as much in his entertaining New York Times essay this past weekend.)

HOLY CRAP! STOP PRESSES! Just saw a TV ad I hadn’t seen online yet, which shows several actors’ range of characters, including our first look at Hugo’s mysterious 1930s Letters from Zedelghem character (is that a monocle?!). More on this as I find it! Coincidentally, this screened during Person of Interest, so the weird Michael Emerson-Hugo Weaving convergence in my life continues… 😉

Fantastic Fest Reviews:

Alan Cerny aka Nordling, Ain’t It Cool News (longer review): “I was so overwhelmed by the experience of it all that I couldn’t think rationally or critically about what I had seen…. It’s been several days since seeing CLOUD ATLAS, and I’m not sure that has changed at all.  It has profoundly moved me in ways that I did not expect, and I can’t stop thinking about it.  I know what the movie means to me, and certain scenes and lines play in my head like a broken record (vinyl, for those too young to remember), and CLOUD ATLAS doesn’t play to me so much like a movie as it does a kind of dream, or faded memory.  It feels like lives lived in harmony and synchronicity, rather than just simple stories told.  It has gotten under my skin and into my head in the way that the very best movies I have ever seen have done, and I’m convinced that CLOUD ATLAS will remain with me for the rest of my life… CLOUD ATLAS, through its multiple storylines, characters, and timelines, says everything I’ve always wanted to say about this world and my place in it.  It is a spiritual experience, and I understand that like most spiritual experiences that it will not affect people in the same way.  But for myself, I was profoundly moved, and CLOUD ATLAS brought me to a spiritual awareness that I have rarely experienced in my life, and certainly not through what most people would call religion.  Movies have been my religion for as far as I can remember, and CLOUD ATLAS has confirmed to me where my true faith lies – in the power of art to transform, to change, and to make this world beautiful…. This is a movie that demands that you engage with it.  It’s not a difficult movie to watch – the masterful directing of Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer keep everything balanced and flowing, and it’s not terribly difficult to follow….  ven if much of the work was done in the script, the work of Alexander Berner and Chris Wehlisch is absolutely flawless.  It’s one of the best edited movies ever made. Across the board, the performances of CLOUD ATLAS are some of the finest work these actors have ever done…. CLOUD ATLAS is a masterpiece.  It is one of the finest films I have ever seen, and it fills me with happiness and tears just thinking back on it.  It is everything I have always wanted a film to be, and even if others do not take away the same things that I did, it does not matter. ”

Barbara Kennedy, Nuclear Salad: “Advertisers love to tout that a film is unlike anything ever seen before, but for this film that claim would wholeheartedly ring true. “Cloud Atlas” encompasses the human experience through an epic tale, intricately weaving stories from the mid-1800s to 2144, resulting in a remarkable tapestry of tone, talent, beauty, and meaning… While I appreciate the idea of emphasizing the film’s theme of connectedness via reusing the same cast members in multiple roles throughout time, I find it to be distracting in moments. (Wait, is that Hugo Weaving? Oh, I think I just missed something important.) …As with any project of a massive scope, challenges present themselves.  With so many different tones, tying them together provides difficulties.  Lana Wachowski addresses this through transitions.  ”I think this movie is a first in that way that we juxtaposed such radical tone. What we found was you had to go back in the structure and create little spaces or transitions for the tone to move.”  This decision, one of many smart ones, improves the flow of the film and allows the viewer moments to regroup.  At times, the shifts in story detract from the overall impact of the single story, but overall, this format proves to be surprisingly effective at conveying the meaning.” (Four and a half out of Five Stars)

John Laird, Movie Breakdown/Side One Track One: “Cloud Atlas is one of the year’s best films.  It’s an epic, wonderfully adventurous effort that challenges you with a multitude of intertwined stories and themes.  To be honest, I’m honestly not even sure how the Wachowskis and Tom Twyker pulled it off without destroying half the world out of mind melting frustration.  What an incredible effort by them….Anyhow, the point is I really can’t recommend Clout Atlas enough.  It certainly isn’t for everyone, but those of you who give it a real shot will find a movie that wants to wow you in a way that nothing else has in a long time.  Also, if anything, at least see it because it’s the most inspired work by both Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in years.”

Matt Singer, Screen Crush: “Whatever its missteps, directors Tom Tykwer, and Andy and Lana Wachowski have crafted a staggeringly ambitious piece of cinema — or really six pieces of cinema, strung together and interwoven and speaking to one another in all kinds of ways. Sitting here a short while after I saw it for the first time, I can’t really say I fully understand a lot of the “why” — why this character is so important to the fate of humanity, or why that character needs to activate that particular device — but the “what” is always so compelling, I was happy to be puzzled. I still am…. This must be the shortest three-hour movie ever made. It flies by in a rush of dazzling imagery and intoxicatingly smooth transitions. There are six stories set in six different time periods, connected by specific plot points, ideas and actors who pop up over and over in different roles. So there are six Tom Hankses, six Halle Berrys, six Hugo Weavings and so on, offering the cast the chance to exhibit in one movie the sort of range they might otherwise need an entire career to reveal…. ‘Cloud Atlas,’ with its mad aspirations to capture the totality of human existence and philosophy in one titanic movie, is a love letter to its own creation. What is being said is ultimately less important than the act of saying it to the widest possible audience, and not letting anyone — naysayers, skeptics and even critics — stop you.” (8 out of 10)

Brandon Marcus, Very Aware: “CLOUD ATLAS, the latest from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, takes the idea of love and both blows it up and simplifies it to its roots. This is an epic movie about many things (human rights, loyalty, homophobia, racism, war) but at its core it’s all about the lengths people will go for love. It’s romantic, epic, unwieldy and absolutely brilliant. It’s not a film that’ll move everyone but it’s going to be very important to many…. When the casting plans were first announced, I wasn’t sure it would work. It would be too noticeable, too cartoonish and too distracting. Having seen CLOUD ATLAS, I can’t imagine it any other way. Sure, some of the make-up isn’t perfect and sometimes it is very noticeable but casting every actor in many roles only strengthens the ideas and themes of the film and draws you to its drama and struggles. They appear repeatedly because the same ideas are touched upon repeatedly. They share very little but they are all fighting the same battles….The beauty here is that every performer gets to play to their respective strengths. The audience sees people they recognize and are willing to follow them as they go deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. It’s a smart, subtle trick. I’m not sure this movie would have worked as well with a lesser known cast, it needs the familiar faces. The Wachowskis and  Tykwer have assembled the perfect ensemble here. This is the only way to make this movie…. CLOUD ATLAS is a massive, ambitious and daring motion picture. It’s bigger than almost anything you’ve ever seen and reaches for the stars without any fear of failing. Ambition can be a dangerous thing but Tykwer and the Wachowskis have succeeded in nearly every way.”

Adam Charles, Film School Rejects: “To go through the entire plot of each story would be a tedious chore for the purpose of a film review , but is also unimportant to the effect of the film. What each story is about is not quite as important to the experience as what they’re all “about,” because the individual narratives exist to speak the film’s larger universal language. It’s the kind of outside-the-box thinking that you would never expect to come out of a studio-produced picture, and you would be right because this wasn’t a studio-produced picture…. It’s also the kind of gorgeously expensive-looking production you would never expect could be feasibly made if a considerably large amount of funding had not been thrown at it. As to the latter I can’t speak to, but how a film this heavy on multi-era costumes, make-up prosthetics, A-list talent in front of and behind the camera, and visual exquisiteness in both its presentation of history and future (and sometimes both simultaneously) could have been made without the bank account of one of the major Hollywood studios is extraordinary; and most of all inspiring and hopeful…. Cloud Atlas defies typical “this was good, this was bad” discussion. Not to claim that it’s above it, but it’s difficult to break down into its parts to identify what does work and what doesn’t when the overall, unique experience in which they serve works. In comparison to the massive beauty of it all the smaller imperfections matter less and less. The picture isn’t perfect, but its flaws come not only at the attempt to grandly succeed, but by breaking ground in rarely visited territories. It’s difficult to fault a film for trying something new and only succeeding ninety percent of the time. Sometimes that ten percent really doesn’t make much difference, even if the film can convince you otherwise.”  (A-)

Guardian Express: “Some movie connoisseurs are calling “Cloud Atlas” the best sci-fi film ever made. The problem with that claim is that it’s not simply a science fiction movie. Was the Matrix a sci-fi film? I would say that it was much-much more; and if you enjoyed “The Matrix” you will fall head over hills for “Cloud Atlas.” .. Like all good adaptations, the filmmakers have streamlined the plots from the book, and come away with propulsive narratives that never lose their momentum. Anthology movies are almost always a mixed bag, but Cloud Atlas is the exception to the rule. … Notions such as past lives and intertwined destinies can come off as hokey, and if they’re to be explored, then the artist (or artists, as the case is here) must leap with complete abandon and total confidence. There is no half-measure in a film of this size, and the filmmakers’ wholehearted commitment is why Cloud Atlas manages to transcend new-age notions that would be worthy of derision. Furthermore, such a reading is far too literal and misses the point shared by each story; a point perfectly summed up by one of the characters: “our lives are not our own.” It is not simply a matter of the individual repeating throughout time. It is how he or she treats others… Cloud Atlas is greater than the sum of its parts, and its parts are stunning.”

Travis Keune, We Are Movie Geeks: “It’s a treat when a major movie comes along, one that looks and feels like a studio-produced movie yet has the intelligence and creativity of an independently film. Not since, say… THE FOUNTAIN, have I experienced such an event. That is until I saw CLOUD ATLAS. Not only was this in incredible eye-popping, jaw-dropping treat, it was a complete surprise, having seen this film as one of the two scheduled “secret screenings” while in attendance at Fantastic Fest 2012. And, as if that wasn’t enough to pour my affection all over like thick, rich gravy… this actually IS an independently-produced film!… CLOUD ATLAS features a line-up of talented stars rarely seen in one film. Leading the cast are Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, whose roles form the primary storyline throughout time, but are not the sole focal point of the film. Hugh Grant delivers performances far outside his normal wheelhouse, delivering some truly unlikeable characters in addition to the enjoyably villainous characters delivered by Hugo Weaving . Weaving, who you may remember as the relentless Agent Smith from THE MATRIX, is much more accustomed to these roles, but seeing Hugh Grant take on this new type of role is refreshing, especially given how well he adapts….The cast also features veterans performing alongside relatively new faces. Jim Broadbent is splendid and Susan Sarandon, while not prevalent in the film, still adds some seasoned texture to the overall film. Newer talent includes Jim Sturgess  and Doona Bae amongst others, most of whom provide varied performances for multiple characters in different stories set in different stages of time. Not only is this an impressive undertaking, its also impressively effective, if not dauntingly complex… As much as I am drawn to go on for a few thousand more words, describing every last detail of the film, attempting to convey all the various themes and ideas, I would not be doing justice to CLOUD ATLAS, as much an enlightening event as it is an enjoyable film.”  (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

Tyler Mager, College Movie Review: “The fact this movie exists at all is a miracle.  Billed as the most expensive independent movie ever made, it took lots of companies and people to get Cloud Atlas made.  In return, the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer have created one of the most important modern cinematic achievements with a film that challenges the norm on technical, story, and acting levels.  Cloud Atlas is a film that impressively tells multiple stories spanning multiple centuries that, at the same time, force the audience to pay attention and connect the dots.  It can and might be overwhelming to some, but it’s never confusing, with a very simple theme… Cloud Atlas will challenge you to rediscover the joy of cinema in ways you’ve never seen or experienced.  I could talk about Cloud Atlas for hours and never even begin to break the surface of what this film has to offer.  Go in with an open mind and be ready for a blast of sorely needed optimism.”

There are also details about the film’s entrancing soundtrack at Film Music Reporter and a brief item about the Fantasic Fest Q & A at Deadline. There’s another contest to win tickets to the October 24 Los Angeles premiere (at which the actors might all be in attendance) at Red Carpet Crash.  You’ll have one last chance to get tickets to the New Yorker Festival screening tomorrow at noon, if you’re in Manhattan; details here.   There are also two new festival screenings scheduled at The View Conference in Torino, Italy on October 5 and at NYU on October 19.

Finally, here’s an edited version of Lana and Andy Wachowski’s Fantastic Fest Q & A, courtesy Movies.com.

I’m almost certain I’ve missed something, and doubtless more new material will continue to appear through October 26. So watch this space! I’ll be attending the New Yorker Fest screening on Saturday and will post a review and other impressions (once I’m able to gather myself) upon my return. Hope I see some of you there.

UPDATE: Warner Bros has uploaded a fourth TV spot for Cloud Atlas, though not the one featuring Hugo’s character array which I mentioned earlier. But there are up to 20 TV spots on YouTube for some of their other upcoming releases, so we can probably expect more soon.

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