David Mitchell

Martin Freeman Voorman Problem

Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled the semi-finalists for the Oscar in the Live Action Short category, and to many fans’ chagrin the shortlist did not include Jonas Cuaron‘s Aningaaq, the Gravity companion piece that also arrived online this week. So much for history being made (some thought the feature and its spin-off could win Best Picture and Best Live Action Short). I’d say that perhaps the voting branch didn’t have enough room in their hearts for two movies involving Inuit characters and preferred Miranda de Pencier‘s Throat Song. But that’s also one of two shortlisted films dealing with spousal abuse, so clearly they’re okay with overlapping themes. Rather than simply lay out the shortlist as it came to us from the Academy, with only title and director and no synopsis or other information, I’ve compiled a short guide to each of the contenders. Because it’s a more international group than usual (and yet not one Irish film for once!), some were harder to find details on than others, let alone trailers — some of which were found but not subtitled in English. Only one of the ten appears to be available to watch right now (and that might change if it’s nominated, so watch asap), and another almost doesn’t even seem to exist yet and has been shortlisted on faith in the filmmakers alone. If any others pop up online, even if it’s after the nominations are announced (on January 10, 2014) and its one […]

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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.

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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.

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The novels of David Mitchell are densely layered affairs concerned with a complicated multitude of characters facing big and complex issues. Or so I hear. His novel Cloud Atlas is a favorite of many, but even those who would love to see a film version have been adamant that such an endeavor would be a foolish and fruitless undertaking. That opinion didn’t change when Tom Tykwer and Andy & Lana Wachowski announced they had written a screenplay and were looking for funding and distribution. It wavered slightly when the casting announcements started rolling in, but it otherwise stayed steadfast. But now the first official trailer has dropped, and while the possibility of a disaster remains it looks like these three writer/directors have accomplished something amazing. Will it live up to the novel? Who knows, but there’s no doubting anymore that they’ve accomplished something audacious and wonderful here. Check out the extended trailer below (courtesy of Cinema Blend).

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The Wachowskis made news when they signed one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Tom Hanks, for their next feature Cloud Atlas. Hanks is kind of a brand name in the moviemaking business, and has been for quite a number of years now; so he’s not really known for taking chances. The Wachowskis, on the other hand, are pretty much known exclusively for taking chances. Everything they have done so far has been weird, experimental, and up in its own head. The other name involved in the development of this project, Tom Tykwer, is pretty off the wall as well. He’s the guy who made Run Lola Run. And the source material for this new film, a David Mitchell novel also named “Cloud Atlas,” is no exception. It tells six different stories, each taking place in different times and places, but involving characters who are recognized as being the same people, or reincarnations of each other, or something. Basically what I’m driving at is that everyone signing on to this film will have to take on multiple roles, so if the Wachowskis want to pull this off, they’re going to have to get some great actors. Thankfully, so far they have. In addition to having Hanks in the lead role, Cloud Atlas continues to add an impressive list of accomplished actors in supporting positions. Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, and Ben Whishaw had already been announced for key roles, and now when presenting the film to potential buyers and […]

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“Cloud Atlas” is a novel written by David Mitchell that sounds pretty complex and pretty cool. Kind of like The Fountain squared. The New Yorker describes the book by saying, “Mitchell’s virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel.” Apparently each of the stories is read by a character from another, and some of them may be reincarnations of each other, and it all sounds complex and heady and exactly like the sort of thing that would catch the eyes of the Wachowski brothers siblings. And it has, because a while back they bought the adaptation rights and they’ve been developing the film alongside Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer. Actors like James McAvoy and Halle Berry have been rumored to be involved with the project at various points, but now comes the first time that an actor has become officially attached. And that actor is Tom Hanks. Seeing as the movie sounds like it is going to be super complex and involve tons of […]

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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