Cloud Atlas Promotion Reaches Frenzied Peak Before Opening Tonight; New Hugo Weaving Interviews

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.

I’ve been meaning to taker screencaps of some of the recent interview and behind the scenes videos, but every time I sign on, there are dozens more new Cloud Atlas interviews, reviews and other articles to sift through and post, so I just haven’t had time. Maybe once the film comes out on Friday I’ll be able to go back and do that. But right now there are two great, in-depth Hugo Weaving interviews to post (one with Susan Sarandon, one solo) plus tons of other Cloud Atlas material. I’m trying very hard not to duplicate anything previously posted or linked to here, but that’s a challenge because there’s just so much stuff, and a lot of it has been cross-posted in slightly different forms in different places. For example, you’ll see the Multitude of Drops making-of featurette again today, but now there are five additional minutes of interview footage tagged on at the end. And there is some repeated content in most of the behind the scenes promos.

One think you won’t have to worry about is my cross-posting any of what I call the “New York culture snob” press’s reaction to the film. I knew exactly what these sniffy pseudointellectuals would say before their reviews were posted, and they’ve proved themselves as predictable as ever. Cloud Atlas has too many genre and populist elements for them to be pleased by it. It unabashedly appeals to a viewer’s emotions and it’s larger themes are obvious. Culture snobs only enjoy films they can brag about getting through and aridly opine about with their other culture snob friends. (Hence the mad rush to outdo one another in overpraising PT Anderson’s The Master, though not a one could really tell you what, if anything, it meant. Or why its obvious artifices and overindulgence of certain actors might be preferable to those same flaws in Cloud Atlas.) These people sound proud in their cynicism… I didn’t respond to every aspect of Cloud Atlas as whole-heartedly as some fans have, but this detachment made me question myself, not arrogantly insult everyone who found the film moving or profound. These sorts of critics are Exhibit A in why the academic left alienates so many people, and why charges of elitism are leveled at liberalism in general. I’m sure if Cloud Atlas had been made for $20,000 in Bulgaria, had its transformation elements clumsily imparted through chunks of opaque dialogue and ended in a mass suicide, these folks would’ve fallen all over themselves praising it. 😉

Sorry… didn’t want to go off on a tangent quite so early. But I had to slog through a bunch of those pretentious reviews far too early in the morning and I still have the headache they induced. I’ll get on with posting some new videos. I’ll build a bit of suspense before we get to the new Hugo material… which is more than worth the wait.

Here’s another new Making-Of, this time from Time:
[


MTV, with its typical, short attention span, tried to make a game of asking the cast to describe the movie in one sentence:

Which you can’t… you can recite blurbs from the poster or trailers, but these Grand Thematic Statements aren’t what made the film satisfying to me. No great film fits easily in a sentence (or a tweet). MTV also quoted some further comments from actors, including Hugo, who aren’t in the video, and discussed themes without playing the game:

…Tom Hanks had several ideas for one-sentence summaries.

‘It is one story about six people who through their choices between cruelty and kindness affect the world for generations to come,’he said before adding another tagline. ‘How about, it’s a cranial plate shift of a film. How about that?’ 

 

Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon added a few more details into the mix to explain the film’s title and its sweeping, metaphysical message.
‘Why is it called ”Cloud Atlas?” ‘ Weaving said. ‘The clouds being like souls and the breadth of humanity, all of the souls that are constantly shifting and changing through time,’ he explained. ‘Clouds shift their color and size and shape and come back.’

 

‘And the idea that our lives are not our own and every act out kindness out crime births your future,’ added Sarandon. ‘I think it’s partially that because it’s in the trailer,’ she said with a laugh.

I hope MTV eventually shares the full cast interviews they’ve obviously taped.

HitFix taped interviews with several cast members (probably using the now-accustomed pairings we’ve seen for most of the online promotion)… so far they’ve only shared their Hanks and Berry piece, but HitFix has been one of the more enthusiastic supporters of  this film, so they probably have a lot more where this came from. Also: more incisive questions than most.

Sympatico has a third Cloud Atlas video up, this one featuring Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy.  (Sorry, no embedding. Don’t know why some sites are so backward on that issue…)

Lana Wachowski appeared as the guest of honor at The Human Rights Campaign’s annual fundraising dinner in San Francisco last right; The Hollywood Reporter has posted footage of her moving speech about learning to accept her transgendered nature and gradually going public with her transition.  There’s a full transcript here, and additional interview here.

You can listed to the full score at The Film Stage (my guess this is the film’s best shot at an Oscar; even detractors have mostly praised it.) They also feature the Multitude of Drops featurette and the Time making-of embedded above (now called “Bringing Cloud Atlas To Life”, and available on YouTube.)

You can read part two of /Film’s interview with the Wachowskis here. There’s a lengthy Tom Hanks/Halle Berry interview at Screen Crave, The Calgary Herald features quotes from the full cast about the full, most of which seem to have come from the TIFF press conference on September 9.

Clevver (sic) News has yet another Hanks/Berry video interview; while the actors do their standard, professional job discussing the film, this hands-down wins my award for Most Vapid Press Treatment Of Cloud Atlas (apart from those sites involved in blowing up Transformers-Gate, of course.) .

There’s a French-language interview with Susan Sarandon at lapresse.ca. There’s video of Tom Hanks’s promotional appearance on Jimmy Fallon last night, though unfortunately most of the running time is spent on an unfunny shaggy dog story about Bruce Springsteen. (!?) The actor’s guest spot on Letterman earlier in the week was more on-point, and even the ever-cranky host expressed some enthusiasm for the film, and said it’s three-hour runtime went by in a flash. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Letterman. And I am often cranky myself.) 😉 I’m still trying to find the full video of that, but you can watch the episode at CBS Online.

The Cloud Atlas costume designers and makeup artists finally get their own interview at Static.com.  There’s an extended interview with Korean actress Bae Doona, who plays the film’s central heroine Sonmi-451, at Movieline. AMC has just added a new interview featuring Bae and Jim Sturgess on YouTube. And the film’s full production notes can now be read at SciFi Talk.  Film Review Online features dual interviews with Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy, and with Hanks and Berry.  (AMC now has all of their Cloud Atlas cast interviews posted here, all are more in-depth than many media sources and well worth a look.)

OK, I’ve made you wait long enough. Here, in full, are the two new Hugo Weaving interviews posted in the past 24 hours. The first appeared on Movie Fanatic, the second one (featuring Susan Sarandon) at MoviesOnline.ca. I applaud both interviewers for staying on-topic, printing the full text of what the actors said, and providing interesing questions rather than scoop-mongering (or contriving controversy) about unrelated franchises. (Hugo does discuss The Hobbit in the first piece, but as that’s an ongoing project, and the first film is being released next month, that’s fair game.)

[Note: My apologies– LJ says the post was too large with the full text of both pieces. So go ahead and click on the links- I’ll post both of those pieces (along with two new Hugo interviews) in the next entry, ASAP]

New Reviews:

Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly: “The first 40 minutes or so of Cloud Atlas’ nearly three hours is such rough sailing, at times I found myself wishing for a cheat sheet or some sort of graph just so I could keep all these characters and storylines straight…

And then something odd happens: The movie settles into a groove… There is some extraordinary filmmaking here, cutting on similar camera movements and matching character placement within the frame for seamless transitions between eras. Everything is always hurtling forward simultaneously, whether it’s Berry and Keith David in a scrappy blaxploitation-inspired shoot-out or Bae’s hyperkinetic escapes in a future dystopia that play out like the Matrix sequels we all wish the Wachowskis had made instead.
It also can be awfully tacky….Yet the kitsch factor is weirdly in keeping with the picture’s ardent, disarming sincerity. There’s not a cynical moment in these three hours, and the actors throw themselves into their roles with wild, foolhardy abandon. The multiple performances aren’t just a gimmick, as the Wachowskis and Tykwer desperately want us to see similar conflicts writ large and small over the enormity of human history, resolved only by bravery, compassion and reaching out to other, similarly marginalized people we were foolishly taught to fear…. Unlike most cold, mega-budget spectacles, Cloud Atlas feels deeply personal, almost hand-crafted. There’s an obvious corollary here between co-director Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski’s recent gender reassignment and the movie’s mutable approach to identity. Even at its most risible, this oddball picture has a groovy, inclusive spirit that seems downright revolutionary in this sterile, blockbuster age.”

Aaron Neuwirth, The Code Is Zeek: “Some flaws aside, I found Cloud Atlas to be incredibly well structured, given the complex nature of the story being told, and a wonderful work of art, after discounting the awkwardness of putting familiar actors in odd makeup.  It will surely be divisive, but I was really into what co-directors Andy & Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer challenged themselves to make…[W]hile the film does have some missteps in the way it treats itself quite seriously in some instances (despite some purposeful humor), … the fact is that these filmmakers really care about this story and did the best with what they had to make it an engaging experience.  As opposed to being a throwaway piece of experimental filmmaking, it seems clear that the effort was put forward to make a compelling and unique experience…. The benefit of a film like Cloud Atlas is that I think it is the kind of film that will provoke a lot of discussion, regardless of whether people like it or not.  There is so much going on in it and it has so much to offer, that it succeeds on being at least a debatable watercooler topic.  In writing about the film and thinking about it more, I would be happy to see it again at this point, as I would maybe be able to focus less on certain awkward aspects and more on how these characters are all interconnected. ”

Eric Kuiper, Reel Spirituality: “My understanding going into the film is that it was about transmigrating souls moving from one generation or epoch to another. And, on some level, this is true. It is a film about the interconnectedness of humanity over time. But to limit the film to this is a great mistake and horrible reduction. This is a film about the clash between those who believe resolutely that the reality of survival of the fittest means it is everyone for themselves and those who believe we are to live a life where we are willing to sacrifice and strive for equality… This battle is not brought to the viewers in a non-partisan manner. This is a film with a point of view, a bias, a hope, and a dream…  Cloud Atlas is impossible to take in all at once. It will likely repay the viewer who is willing to return to it. But where it at times feels more a like a fogged map that is hard to follow, it also is reaching for something worth reaching for, even if it can’t quite grab it. It declares the importance of telling the counter-story to the one that is eating up and spitting out so many, in hopes that someday soon, it will be realized on earth. Cloud Atlas invites us all to live a story that we believe is true, even if it is not the dominant story being told around us. Cloud Atlas is an invitation to live what we believe will be, but at the moment is not yet. Whether it is a well-articulated, clear or meaningful invitation – there’s probably two ways to see that.”

Marty Day, Blast-O-Rama: “On paper, a nearly three-hour drama which takes the audience through six separate timelines while attempting to reveal the universal truths of humanity isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. Yet from the first glimpse of the film, in its beautiful six-minute trailer, you got the feeling that the directorial team of Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) had truly touched upon something special…. It’s clear that the filmmakers were more enamored with certain timelines than others (the Neo Seoul sequence in 2144 clearly had the Wachowski’s creative juices flowing), but no story feels cheapened. Somehow, every story has a clear three act structure, and usage of creative juxtaposition clarifies the meaning of certain stories by the sequences that came before or follow from other stories.  The uniting theme of the connective fiber of life itself becomes abundantly clear, and while every story seems unique, each story illuminates the next in brilliant, unforeseen ways…. Much has been spoken of the creative use of a central cast throughout the film, using extensive makeup techniques to allow the actors to morph into different roles depending on the timeline they appear in. Sometimes the makeup does a fantastic job of hiding the actors (you’re going to have a lot of fun with the IMDB page when you get home), while in others, the makeup is jarring and bizarre (notably with any instance of changing an actor’s race or sex).  Still, the acting is the heart of the project…  If [Jim Broadbent] isn’t at the least nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor for his work here, something has gone terribly wrong.  Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that if you’ve ever longed to see what Hugo Weaving would look like if he were Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, this is the film that finally delivers…. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer had the audacity to create something truly brilliant and original, in a movie making marketplace which may completely refuse to accept it. Cloud Atlas is a film which I look forward to dissecting and discussing for years to come – and that may truly be the highest compliment you can pay a true work of art.  Is the movie for you? I cannot really say. But I know that it was for me, and I look forward to revisiting it again and again.”

Maitland McDonagh, Film Journal: “the film’s title suggests that each character is engaged in a journey that’s both poetic and scientific, attempting to quantify the elusive and mysterious. The conceit of history-changing moments is handled more subtly than it sounds: No story ends with a decisive, earthshaking victory against blind conformity, comfortable ignorance or tyranny that will literally change the world. But each is a tile in a vast mosaic of events whose cumulative effect will. And though its big ideas can be reduced to well-worn phrases like ‘No man is an island,’  ‘All you need is love,’ ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ and ‘We’re all connected,’ Cloud Atlas attempts to strip each one of the layers of familiarity that make them seem like greeting-card platitudes rather than genuinely provocative notions….Having the same core group of actors play different roles in various stories helps tie them together, even if it sometimes so strains credulity that it pulls the viewer out of the story…  But on the whole, Cloud Atlas is consistently entertaining and surprisingly effective, as well as the shortest three hours most moviegoers will ever spend in a theatre…and that’s no small recommendation. ”

John Armstrong, Dr Mathochist: “I admit it: I love ambitious movies — big, complicated, literary juggernauts with myriad moving parts all arranged just so in perfect harmony. I like feeling like I’m doing some real work, uncovering a deeper structure that makes everything on the surface tick. Cloud Atlas is just the sort of film that, if done well, is made for me to love. And, as far as I’m concerned, Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski have succeeded. This is a grand, breathtaking spectacle of filmmaking and a tribute to the skills of all three as adapters and directors. The fatal flaw is that they may well have made their film abstruse beyond the reach or interest of much of their audience, and confounding to those seeking a proper blockbuster…. It’s almost surprising that the film comes in at a mere 164 minutes in the American cut, allowing only 25 minutes or so for each section. Each one manages to expand beyond its bounds, though, by spilling over into the others. The directors rhyme one scene in one story with another scene in another, sometimes in great stacks…. The cast — and thus on some level the characters — aren’t the only things that continue from one story to another. All sorts of references, places, and objects great and small cross-link the narratives. A blue-green button here; rings there. San Francisco, California; King’s College, Cambridge; the Pacific Ocean. A sliced throat; a gunshot; a gout of blood. Slavery; love; transcendence. And threaded through it all is the hauntingly beautiful and bittersweet Cloud Atlas Sextet, which shows up in pieces in the phenomenal score by Tykwer and his collaborators Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil….  For those ready to work, though, it’s a marvelous and fascinating puzzle indeed. In watching and studying the stories told by these shifting, nebulous images across one, unchanging background, we can start to tease out underlying patterns that reveal to us the secrets of the weather that shapes our human existence. Will this Cloud Atlas reveal its secrets to all who watch? is it even possible to achieve such a lofty goal? of course not. But as I said, I love it just for trying. It may be impossible to touch the sky, but those who aim for it fly higher than those who do not dare to dream.”

Bryan Kluger, Boomstick Comics: “‘Cloud Atlas’ is not just a movie you view, it’s a full experience…. The performances from all of the actors are flawless as they can switch from the villain to the hero, or from strong to cowardly, and from funny and charming to obnoxious and mean.  I’v never seen anything quite like it.  Broadbent was one of my favorite characters in the film, as he just makes every scene a little bit brighter… ‘Cloud Atlas’ is perfectly edited.  Weaving each of these six stories, time periods, and characters together was something unlike I’ve never seen before.  Not only was it perfectly edited, but each scene reflects and adds to the previous scene before it.  Kind of like an opera as it builds and builds on each scene.”

Joe The Movie Man: “Both The Wachowskis and Tykwer have excelled in the past with creating brave new worlds of information within their films and Cloud Atlas is no exception.  There’s so much to observe in the details and small hints that a second viewing of the movie is pretty much required.  As it ponders the origins of our humanity and our growing reliance on technology, the movie begins to rail against the trappings of just being a statement about oppression and distance.  It’s a melting-pot of themes…and I don’t say that to indicate that it can’t decide on what kind of movie it is.  The Wachowskis and Tykwer know exactly what film they were crafting and that all the pieces have the same cinematic voice show a unity in design…. For their cast, the directors have assembled an international group of actors that are called upon to play a variety of different ages, genders, races, etc.  It’s almost like repertory theatre as you pick out who is playing who in each different story.  It’s mostly easy to see the stars (just watch the variety of fake noses on display) but what I found more interesting was trying to pick out some of the secondary characters that pop up from piece to piece…. Hanks and Berry play major roles in most of the pieces, but in a few they are in blink and you miss ‘em cameos.  Berry has had a rocky road after winning her Oscar for Monster’s Ball in 2002…   In Cloud Atlas, she finally shines again in what can be seen as a pseudo-comeback performance.  She’s the center of the story for the 1970’s sequence and fills out every vessel of her character, shaping her into someone we have a vested interest in…. I’ve decided over the course of writing this review that another screening of Cloud Atlas is going to be on the top of my list once I’ve had time to full process this first viewing.  There are so many hints about how the stories weave together and an abundance of shared themes that it just can’t all be taken in with one viewing.  I can understand how this movie won’t be for everyone and can see that it will divide a large section of its audience.  I started off very unsure of the film and wary of its narrative style but gradually was so enveloped in its ingenuity and brave storytelling that I never looked back.  ”

Finally, in non-Cloud Atlas Hugo Weaving news, there’s a great new review of Last Ride (now available on US DVD) at Scene Stealers, which endears me further by pairing it with the DVD issue of Moonrise Kingdom. 😉 There’s a reprint of Hugo’s recent Fresno Bee Last Ride interview at Macon.com,  In Hobbit News, there has been some buzz that news satirist (and unabashed Tolkien geek) Stephen Colbert might have a cameo in the forthcoming trilogy. Since this is coming from The Hollywood Reporter, I’ll believe it when I see it, but if any of the Dwarves has an abnormal fear of Beorn and a SuperPAC, we’ll know he made the cut. 😉 Allegedly Colbert is in the second or third film, not the first, and his cameo was filmed during a set visit last November. So he probably isn’t playing an Elf, at least not a Rivendell Elf, as their scenes were shot in April and May 2011 with some extra voice work this past summer.

Then there’s yet more left-field Hobbit merchandising:

NOTE: More new Cloud Atlas material is already up, including the belated on-topic portion of Collider’s interview (I’ll add the full text next post… which I’ll start working on shortly.) I’m still frustrated at their lack of willingness to put Hugo’s remarks in full context, as their chopped-up selection of quotes has caused such undue outrage in certain quarters. They admit here that they’ve compiled Hugo’s interview from two separate interviews, and have undoubtedly edited down from those. I know Elissa Blake’s transcript from earlier this year– possibly the best Hugo Weaving interview, ever–  and many in-depth print, audio and video interviews from the Australian media have spoiled me to some extent, but Hugo doesn’t talk in sound bites, and his tone can be altered significantly when his words are pared down or decontextualized by a journalist seeking them.

Collider has done a much better job in the past (including in the handling of Hugo’s Last Ride interview this past summer) and this part of the interview sounds more like him, but given the trouble this interview has caused, is it really too much to ask that they post it in unedited form?  I don’t accuse them of changing any of his words, just the nuance and context. The comments about The Two Franchises probably didn’t sound inflammatory when spoken, but were too easily misinterpreted when posted as they were. Granted, some fanboys (and the hacks who make movies for them) will never be happy, but Hugo wasn’t trying to insult them or their disposable entertainment, nor, I’m sure, did he adopt a jaded tone.   Also, Screen Crave printed their lengthy chat with Sarandon and Weaving… I’ll post that here as well, but you can grab a sneak peek at the source now.

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