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 I never followed up a few nights ago as the Cloud Atlas premiere was underway; after a full day of following the film online, my eyeballs and stamina were shot. I wasn't joking on Facebook when I said I had floaters that were flashing a dozrn bright colors and dancing a conga line. 😉 also, as most of you have probably gathered by now, Hugo Weaving wasn't in attendance at the LA premiere. Most of the cast (and the three directors) were on hand, but Hugo, Ben Whishaw and Hugh Grant weren't there… Whishaw might have been busy at the Skyfall premiere (he's in both films). Can't say I was terribly surprised, as Hugo did fly in to do press for the film on October 12-14, and I don't see him hanging out in Los Angeles for ten days in between… OR flying back to Sydney then flying back out. I don't know if he opted out due to these logistics, a scheduling conflict or because he feels burned by the entertainment press after the of hysterical overreaction to a few incidental comments on Transformers and Captain America. (I'd be inclined to think the third is least likely, as Hugo doesn't usually follow the online entertainment media.)
Anyhow, there's still hope he might be in attendance at the Berlin premiere on November 5 or an Australian premiere early next year. He has gone all out in assisting the promotion of the film, and most of the press for Cloud Atlas seems to have been handled on that press junket the 14-16 rather than at the premiere which, Halle Berry's gown aside, was rather lightly covered. 😉 We all have to remember that Hugo isn't particularly a fan of "red carpet events" in the first place, and has never attended 100% of multiple premieres for any major international release apart from The Matrix Reloaded. (Then he skipped all but one of the Revolutions premieres to do a play.) 😉 So… I'm grateful for all these new interviews. I'll add everything that's come in since the last entry, then maybe try to post a review roundup… there are literally hundreds of new reviews, and they continue to lean positive, though the film continues to be divisive. It is very much a matter of what Agent Smith might have called "vagaries of perception." I'm astonished at both how jaded and how clueless a lot of mainstream critics have been. And yes, negative reviews do seem to break down along lines of critics who hated the film because it asked them to think and those that hated it for asking them to feel.
Unfortunately, the film is already being tagged a box-office disappointment by some bean-counting sites– I'm not sure how they could know before the first evening performances have started. But I am going to take the unusual step of imploring fans to see the film as soon as they can, if they feel motivated to see it at all. I always felt Cloud Atlas would have to gradually build as a cult hit over time rather than top the box office charts– Warner Bros chickened out slightly on booking it, and some regional theater chains (such as the one I went to last night) are doing a miserable job with local advertising, online ticket sales, etc. Films like this are a challenge and do ask a certain amount of the viewer, but they deserve to exist, and we're all poorer if only sequels, superhero schlock and formulaic genre films clog the multiplexes while movies of this scope and ambition are no longer made because they're not "bankable". There were only about five people at the midnight screening I attended last night– at least every one of them enthusiastically applauded at the end. Some people are put off by the 3 hour run-time and Big, Weighty Themes implied in the commercial. While the film isn't as brainless and disposable as most of the Halloween fare currently playing, it's not a chore, not unfathomable, and not something you need a graduate thesis to enjoy. If it errs, I'd say it errs on the side of being too obvious in some respects, though if the film gets you on its wavelength, you'll hardly mind. You might be profoundly moved. You might be merely entertained.
As I mentioned, I did see the film a second time last night, and was much more caught up in the emotionalism of it this time. I was more able to put aside expectations and enjoy it for what it is… and there are a million little details that will be rewarded by multiple viewings. Obviously if you hated the book or find the promotions off-putting, you should steer clear. But I do think most people could find something in this to love, or at least be entertained by. Hugo's limited roles remain my major sticking point, and at times take me out of the movie because he deserves more complex characters to tackle than he was given. Even those that are entertaining conceptually (Nurse Noakes, Bill Smoke) are given such minimal dialogue and such rote symbolic heft that I'd probably have been annoyed at the limitations no matter who played those particular roles. Old Georgie remains most interesting, but even he could have been more developed– I don't know anyone whose personalty is broken down into strickly "good" and "evil" sides– there are necessary (and deeply ingrained/cultural) aspects of anyone's dark side and that part of us never completely vanishes, so the notion he only represents evil qualities in the film is frustrating. watching Hugo in this guise mess with Tom Hanks is quite fun, however. That aside, I was on the verge of tears several times, which I hadn't been the first time.
And I'll repeat that anyone using the film to demagogue racial issues, or who thinks the film is racist, either hasn't seen it or is reprehensible. I have noticed several individuals trying to make a name on the basis of attacking the film on this issue– their arguments are specious and innacurate. Ignore them. Of the multiple actors playing Asian (or, as I should probably put it, mixed-heritage, English speaking Neo Seoul characters with some Asian traits) only James D'Arcy attempts a "mid-Pacific" accent. Jim Sturgess sounds exactly the same as he does everywhere else, and Hugo Weaving sounds exactly like his Agent Smith characters. D'Arcy's portrayal is sensitive and soulful– the script suggests he once spoke Korean (which is no longer an accepted language among the ruling class in the film) and has been repressing his past and true self to maintain his position. But he might also be the starting point for Sonmi's revolution. To backtrack, the Neo Seoul in the film is not meant to be an accurate portrit of modern Korea or Korean culture. It's a mixed society infiltrated by many cultures. The government is a corporate oligarchy which has imposed English as the official language (all other languages are now deemed "subspeak") and is likely from America, Europe or a mixture of the two. So yes, it's deliberately ironic that these people call themselves "purebloods". They don't look authentically Korean because– duh!– they aren't. I know I won't get some of the identity politics pedants off this subject because they enjoy the undue attention it's getting them. But maybe those of us who've actually seen the movie will be able to get through to a few others who've been misled on this issue. If anything, their rantings slander the efforts of three Asian actresses who probably wouldn't have worked in American films otherwise.
So… if you do value this film or if you're a fan of any of these actors or directors who worked so hard on it.. please try to see it early and, if so moved, often. It actually is important.
Now to the videos… first up, another MTV clip, this one featuring cast members discussing the most surprising makeup job they encountered on the set. Hugo isn't interviewedm but Nurse Noakes gets a shout-out. 😉
MTV: Cloud Atlas Makeup Moments
Here's the Reelz Channel Hugo Weaving/Susan Sarandon interview. I saw this at 3am on TV the night of the premiere… helped taker the edge off not seeing Hugo on the red carpet. As usual, he's thoughtful and deferential to a fault. And belied all the whiny fanboy notions that he's "jaded" for not wanting to play Megatron into his 80s. 😉 NOTE: if the embed fails, click on the link. Sorry for any technical difficulties.
Here's yet another Behind the Scenes featurette from Reviews on the Run. Fortunately the bad techno music in this is NOT in the film. 😉
On The Red Carpet has another Hugo Weaving/Susan Sarandon interview
I'll add more to this entry soon!