Cloud Atlas

Eli Wallach Transformation

The excellent Eli Wallach, whose career spanned over sixty years, passed away this week at the age of 98, and I’m consumed with thoughts of transformation. Of course, he lived and worked for so long that life was a transformation in and of itself. The man from The Godfather Part III is the same man who hilariously shuffled about with Cloris Leachman in New York, I Love You. But he was also a man that melted into his roles. It’s an amazing, yet eternally undervalued talent. We gush for the names who always, and will forever look like themselves – the Robert Redfords and George Clooneys — but the real magic comes from the character actors whose roles trump image, those who disappear, those who leave little to no taste of the real person behind the performance. Some need full masks and CGI to transform, but others need just a hint of makeup or sometimes (shockingly) nothing at all as they’re enveloped by their characters. Elite actors like Wallach allow us to simply enjoy the character and pretend, briefly, that they’re real.

read more...

2013 Performer of the Year

When it came time to pick our 2013 Performer of the Year it would have been easy enough to use last year’s entry as a template and simply give it to Matthew McConaughey again. His tremendous 2012 rolled seamlessly into an equally fantastic 2013 with a stand-out lead performance in Dallas Buyers Club, an equally impressive supporting role in Mud, and a scene-stealing turn in The Wolf of Wall Street. The acclaim is likely to continue through 2014 with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and HBO’s True Detective series both ready to thrill fans and critics alike. But we’re not in the business of being easy, so we decided to go a bit more obscure with our pick. Our 2013 Performer of the Year is a five-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner whose films have grossed over $8.5 billion worldwide, and his name is Tom Hanks. (I don’t actually know what “obscure” means.) Hanks had two films released this year, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, and after more than a decade out of Oscar’s limelight he’s back in a big way. Not only is he winning accolades for his performances, but he’s also seen his first live-action film to pass the $100 million mark at the box-office in over four years (eleven years if you ignore Dan Brown adaptations). The number one reason we’ve chosen him, though, is that regardless of awards or box office, Hanks’ performance in the final ten minutes of Captain Phillips is as good as acting gets […]

read more...

han-geng01

While one giant robot movie is rounding out a disappointing opening weekend, another continues to announce cast members a year ahead of its own release. This morning, Michael Bay welcomed Asian superstar Han Geng into the fold of Transformers 4, in which he’ll join a cast consisting of Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammar, Sophia Myles and fellow China-based actress Li Bingbing. Han is a singer and actor who can be seen heading up his country’s second highest-grossing domestic release of 2013, So Young (it’s neck and neck with top-grossing Hollywood import, Iron Man 3, and both are now in the top ten of all time there). To give you an idea of how popular he is, just peruse YouTube’s many abridged yet still lengthy versions of the college drama featuring only Han’s scenes. Before becoming a movie star, Han got his start as a member of the South Korean boy band Super Junior, in which he was also known as “Hankyung.” Through the group he got his first major film appearance alongside the other guys in the 2007 Korean high school movie Attack of the Pin-Up Boys and later got his first lead role in My Kingdom in 2011 (the year the last Transformers sequel, Dark of the Moon, was the top-grossing movie in China). Meanwhile, he’s continued to be a recording star with a solo career following a legal battle to get out of his Super Junior contract. Among his hit singles is a song released this […]

read more...

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell’s book Cloud Atlas was long considered one of those infamous “unfilmable” books. However, that didn’t stop the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer from giving it a go when they made the epic sci-fi/historical/mystery drama. Tying together six different stories in six different genres, the film was seen as a triumph by some and a mess by others. Running close to three hours, and starring a cast of actors in multiple (and sometimes marginally offensive) roles, Cloud Atlas can be a bit of a challenge to get through, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be given a chance. You might need some liquid courage to make it to the end, that is the true-true, and that is fine. Just don’t be surprised if you start seeing double (or triple or quadruple). That’s just interesting casting and lots of prosthetics.

read more...

discs frontline

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Frontline: Raising Adam Lanza 2012’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT is a tragedy that will hang in the public consciousness for years to come, and as is always the case with events like this the media and the public find themselves desperate for answers as to why and how it could have happened. PBS’ continually excellent program, Frontline, takes a look at the shooter and the sole constant in his life, his mother. The public perception of the shooter is limited to simple, catchy headlines, rumors and repeated claims of his interest in guns and videogames, but unlike the attention whores dominating the 24 hour news cycle, Frontline takes time to get to the truth of the matter. They touch upon his interests, but instead of laying blame they make a point of acknowledging that those same interests were shared by many other boys, too. The issue here is mental health and a mother in over her head, and while I’m not a fan of giving the killers additional publicity in the press (via their name) it’s worthwhile when paired with journalism done right. [DVD extras: None]

read more...

On Demand: Jack Reacher

Back after a week of self-reflection, our patented, custom-built supercomputer known as the Video On Demand Power Ranker is back in action. This week it’s all crime thrillers, time-lapsing epics and stories about people with a screw (or seven) loose. And a movie about your uncle’s favorite band, The Eagles.

read more...

2012-overlookedmovies

The movies listed here aren’t necessarily the year’s best, but they’re still great movies that never found an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now. (Which reminds me… go see Jack Reacher!) But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 100 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault. I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid by default. These are only films that had a real chance of making a lot more money, so while I wish more people saw the LCD Soundsystem concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits, I’m not surprised that it only made $510k. So here are 12 great movies that failed at the box office but deserved much better (and should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever)… and 6 terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

read more...

The Best Movie Trailers of 2012

Everyone knows you can’t judge a book by its cover, but were you aware that movies shouldn’t be judged by a trailer either? I know, seems counter-intuitive, but while the trailer advertises a feature the two aren’t interchangeable. Terrible trailers sometimes give way to fantastic films just as brilliant trailers sometimes reveal ridiculously bad ones. It’s a crap shoot really. The list below features twelve of our favorite trailers that premiered in 2012. Some of the movies turned out to be gems, others ended up being far less impressive and a few won’t be released until 2013, but all of them made us excited to watch one more movie…

read more...

Culture Warrior on 2012

In this end-of-year editorial, Landon Palmer discusses the pattern that movies demonstrated in 2012 for telling stories through protagonists defined by their various personality traits rather than through conventional, straightforward characters. In so doing, movies this year showed how our individual identities have become divided within various aspects of modern social life. This trend made some of the year’s movies incredibly interesting, while others suffered from a personality disorder. Landon argues that movies ranging from The Hunger Games to The Dark Knight Rises to Holy Motors alongside cultural events and institutions like the Presidential election, social media, and “Gangnam Style” all contributed to a year in which popular culture is finally became open about its constant engagement with multiple cults of personality. Six years ago, Time magazine famously named its eagerly anticipated “Person of the Year” You in big, bold letters. Its cover even featured a mirror. As a result of the established popularity of supposedly democratized media outlets like Facebook and the home of the cover’s proverbial “You,” YouTube, Time declared 2006 as the year in which the masses were equipped with the ability to empower themselves for public expressions of individual identity. More than a half decade later, social media is no longer something new to adjust to, but a norm of living with access to technology. Supposing that Time’s prophecy proved largely correct, what does it mean to live in a 21st century where we each have perpetual access to refracting our respective mirrors?

read more...

12year_disappointments

If there’s one word I think of that’s best tied to the story of film in 2012, it’s “disappointing.” That’s not to say that 2012 was a disappointing year for movies. I don’t know if it was the best in a while, as some of my fellow critics claim, but then I still haven’t seen a lot of the “best” titles of the year. What I do know is that there were enough movies that really, really, really disappointed a lot of people, and so I feel like I heard — or read — the word “disappointing” more than any other. Whether it was a long-awaited prequel to a classic helmed by the original’s director or the expected return to form for a filmmaker or a final installment of a much-worshipped superhero trilogy or a reboot of a beloved comic-based franchise or a new animated feature from a usually dependable studio, there were plenty of major releases that turned out to be less than satisfying. At least for some.

read more...

Home for the Holidays

Before we’re all full of turkey, mashed potatoes and that experimental vegan dessert Aunt Trina keeps trying to make work, we’d like to take a pre-coma moment out to take stock of what’s worth celebrating this Thanksgiving. Without a doubt, we’re thankful for friends and family and all the good within eyesight (even as the world spins too-loudly out of control), but as we’re a movie website, we’d like to use this space to focus on all the wondrous film stuff that’s currently bringing a smile to our faces. To help out, the Rejects — including Rob Hunter, Kate Erbland, Cole Abaius, Christopher Campbell, Kevin Carr, Landon Palmer, Nathan Adams, Robin Ruinsky, Luke Mullen, Caitlin Hughes and Allison Loring — compiled a list of cinematic things to be thankful for. See if you can guess who picked what (spoiler: everything Magic Mike-related is Hunter). Now, let’s get to thanking!

read more...

We live in a shrinking world. Boundaries are becoming more porous, commerce straddles the oceans, and communication is wide-reaching and constant. The movies have followed suit. There are hyperlink projects like Babel, of course, but international connections have also been explored on a more modest scale. Québec in particular has produced a mighty handful of films that embrace not only the nation’s multi-cultural character but also its global implications. Recent Oscar nominees Monsieur Lazhar and Incendies weave intercontinental stories with ease. Jean-Marc Vallée has added a new layer to this globally open trend with his new film, Café de Flore. Where other movies have simply been content to tell a single story that happens to span thousands of miles, Vallée has undertaken to make the interconnectedness of humanity itself his thematic focus. He reaches across both space and time, building bridges between the most impossibly distant of characters. He starts in modern-day Montreal. Antoine Godin, played by the newly cleaned and buffed Québecois rocker Kevin Parent, is leading a mostly perfect life. He is deeply in love with his girlfriend, the vivacious Rose (Evelyne Brochu). He has two beautiful daughters from his ex-wife, Carole (Hélène Floren), with whom he still has a strained but amicable relationship. An internationally successful DJ, he jets around the globe helping people lose their inhibitions. Yet as his relationship with Rose progresses, he is forced to confront the grounded parts of his life and the residual damage to his family left by the divorce.

read more...

Movie News: The Hobbit Posters

What is Movie News After Dark? It happens thrice times per week. It’s awesome. You can read it. Right now. We begin this evening’s marketing-heavy edition of Movie News After Dark with the absurdity of the day. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a new trilogy from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, now has seventeen character posters that can be ogled. It’s a little much, even for what may turn out to be the biggest film of the year. Above you’ll see Dwalin, a badass dwarf. Just after the jump, Gandalf and his fall collection.

read more...

The Best Damn Oscar Blog

If you can find a review of Cloud Atlas that doesn’t use the word “ambition,” I will give you a quarter. Everyone is talking about the sheer grandiosity of the project, an adaptation of a book that has been called “unfilmable.” More than simply the most obvious talking point, the movie’s vast scope is also a major point of division between critics. Those that love it seem to praise its ambition most of all, while its detractors claim that the Wachowski Starship and Tom Tykwer bit off far more than they could chew. I would argue for the latter, that while there are many excellent individual moments spread across Cloud Atlas’s six stories, the larger endeavor often gets bogged down in its own scope. However, that might mean nothing at all for its Oscar chances. Cloud Atlas is a great example of a group we might call “lesser epics.” These films tell broad, temporally extensive narratives that take up many years, distant locales, and well over two hours of screen time. They are often period pieces with meticulous detailing, gorgeous landscapes, and the occasional stunning special effects. Yet for whatever reason they don’t come quite come together in the end and they rarely make much money. At the end of the day, however, their ambition is often deemed enough on its own to garner a smattering of Oscar nominations. Cloud Atlas is nothing if not ambitious, but is that enough to impress the Academy?

read more...

The Wachowskis

The Wachowskis haven’t directed a ton of movies. They also haven’t given a ton of interviews. If we can look at their output versus their impact (and in the case of Speed Racer, divisiveness), they look an awful lot like auteurs. There’s a number of themes they enjoy working with as well as a brand of visuals that seem conflicting movie to movie even as they share a kernel of The Future between them. At the very least, it would be easy to call them auteurs, but they completely reject the title and the concept. After Bound, The Matrix series, Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas and their non-directorial writing (most notably V for Vendetta), they’ve maintained a firm view of film as a truly, inextricably collaborative process. For them, that goes even above and behind the standard meaning. They’re a bit enigmatic, but that’s fantastic. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from two totally normal, crazy people named Lana and Andy.

read more...

Cloud Atlas

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the thing that will comfort you during the storm. In this case the storm is Hurricane Sandy, who is currently laying down a ravaging to our beloved readers on the East Coast. And the comforting is in the form of the eight best links of the day, all of which will lead you to great reads, listens, watches and otherwise marvelous, nerdy things to look at. 1. We begin this evening with a calculated takedown of the weekend’s biggest new movie, Cloud Atlas. For well over a week, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with my own feelings on the latest from Wachowski Starship. It’s complex, grande and full of moments that are worthy of awe. But it’s also a big mess. And Zach Baron at Grantland’s Cloud Atlas is an overscrambled mess article is perhaps the most adept explanation of the balance between the great and the not-so-great.

read more...

James Bond in Skyfall

Bond is back and New York is an Empire state of emergency. That’s the story playing out in this weekend’s box office numbers. From a massive showing for 007 overseas to a lackluster run for Wachowski Starship and their Cloud Atlas, it was an interesting weekend at the movies.

read more...

As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

read more...

Cloud Atlas Review

Editor’s note: Cloud Atlas finally arrives in theaters today, so please dive deep into it with this review, first published as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage on October 3, 2012. It starts with an old, scarred, and obviously hard-lived man sitting near a campfire speaking to the audience, and it ends with the same scarred old man concluding his story at that same campfire talking to a group of children about past adventures. As the credits start to roll, it evokes a nostalgia that you may have just sat through the kind of immersive and imaginative tale that you wish you could recall all the details to tell it to your children exactly as it was told to you. All that was missing was a stick and a bag of marshmallows. In between these comforting bookends is a story that transcends time, tonal cohesiveness, or convention of almost any kind. Cloud Atlas an elaborate, beautiful, and ever-growing spiderweb of human causality and inter-connectivity that’s woven together by themes that support an idea that we are never unbound from one another or a purpose. Your life is not necessarily your own as you are tied to others in your time, others who came before you, and those who will come long after. What you do is what will define you and will determine the living conditions of those who follow. What you do may seem insignificant, or irrelevant to the plan at large, but most everything matters – and if […]

read more...

The most interesting thing about this excellent behind-the-scenes look is that it’s focal point is David Mitchell, the author of the novel that The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer fell in love with so deeply that they had to make an insanely risky movie version. He becomes the entry point into a process that, typically, can seem alien to novelists. His glee at watching his story burst off the page is contagious here. Cloud Atlas is in theaters today, and the consensus seems to be that whether you feel the full force of its impact or end up hating it, the film itself is to be celebrated for trying some large and new. Adam certainly loved it, and now TIME has made “Bringing Cloud Atlas to Life: The Actors, The Filmmakers and David Mitchell Discuss the Film,” a fantastic companion to the movie which takes us from green screens to sandy beaches and beyond while Mitchell and the directors unpack the process (which apparently was a lot like playing with LEGOs). At the very least, you won’t be able to get Tom Hanks saying, “This is a violation!” out of your head all day.

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3