In perusing this year’s biggest movie controversies, we found ourselves discussing matters a good deal less trivial than last year. Make no mistake, there are some tempest-in-teapot situations here: ratings woes, questions of reappropriation and hagiography, and (god help us all) frame rates. But we also grappled with issues of artistic responsibility and racial representation, and with the ongoing question of the very health of the form itself. Join us after the jump for a stroll through the year’s memorable movie controversies, won’t you? … Read More
Unlike nearly everyone I know, I didn’t like the trailer for Cloud Atlas. When I first saw it, I winced at its length, its bombast — it seemed too bloated, too slapdash, and too much like a mashed-up clone every other epic movie I’d seen. There was no possible way, I thought, that this movie would do justice to David Mitchell’s enchanting novel. But then again, for your humble literary editor and resident book nerd (and not, I’ll point out right away, a laureled film critic), that seems pretty predicable. Still, when I sat down to watch the film at its US premiere at the New Yorker Festival this month, I was on my guard. Seeing a book I love translated well to the big screen is a great joy of mine, but the opposite is as big a disappointment — I don’t think I’ll ever get over what Frank Oz did to The Indian in the Cupboard. But I was surprised. The film, incredibly ambitious in its own right, serves as a kind of lovely sound poem ode to the novel, as interpretive as it is adaptive. … Read More
It is easy to go in to Cloud Atlas intimidated. It’s a sprawling, nearly three-hour adaptation of a novel many thought unfilmable, stitching together six seemingly unrelated narratives simultaneously; it’s been preceded by both positive and negative buzz that it’s too ambitious and potentially confusing for the average Saturday night moviegoer. Let’s put those fears to rest right off the bat: this is not a film to fear. It is, in fact, a film that’s easy to approach and even easier to engage. No, the greater danger — what is, in some quarters, already happening — is a resistance to its audacity, a refusal to turn oneself over to this grandly sincere, and occasionally overwrought, cavalcade. It is, make no mistake, a film filled with flaws. Try as I might, I cannot force myself to give a damn about them. … Read More
In Cloud Atlas, the ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s sprawling novel by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer (out tomorrow), six interlocking but initially unrelated stories are told, decades or even centuries apart, and to further the film’s everything-is-connected theme, the filmmakers had most of their cast take roles — large and small — in each of the stories. Some do it more successfully than others (Hugo Weaving is as versatile as ever, but Tom Hanks’ Cockney gangster is, erm, a bit of a stretch), but it’s an endurance test that actors love to take, the kind of challenge that makes a thesp’s mouth water. Cloud Atlas marks one of the few occasions that multi-role performances (and by that we mean more than two) have been taken on in service of a serious film, however; it’s usually, but not always, a gimmick for character-based comedians. At any rate, we’ve assembled a few of our very favorite performances by actors who decided to flex their chameleon muscles; check them out after the jump. … Read More
When The Matrix premiered in 1999, the film world got all excited about the duo of sibling writer/directors who rose up from the underground to create an international phenomenon. We called them the Wachowski Brothers — until, in the past year or so, it became public knowledge that Larry Wachowski had transitioned and would now be known as Lana. (The siblings, meanwhile, now jokingly refer to themselves as Wachowski Starship.) Her recent re-emergence has made Wachowski an inspiration to the transgender community.
Over the weekend, Lana Wachowski accepted the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award and gave a showstopping personal speech. She opened up about some difficult moments from her childhood, cleared up the misapprehension that her absence from the public eye for the past 12 years had to do with her transition, discussed the difficulties of negotiating between public and private identities, and revealed that she’s been out to friends and family for over a decade. “I knew I was going to come out but I knew when I finally did come out I didn’t want it to be about my coming out,” Wachowski said. “I am completely horrified by the ‘talk show,’ the interrogation and confession format, the weeping, the tears of the host [applause] whose sympathy underscores the inherent tragedy of my life as a transgender person. And this moment fulfilling the cathartic arc of rejection to acceptance without ever interrogating the pathology of a society that refuses to acknowledge the spectrum of gender in the exact same blind way they have refused to see a spectrum of race or sexuality.” Click through to watch a video of the event (Wachowski’s speech begins roughly five minutes in) and read the full transcript at The Hollywood Reporter. … Read More
Some books, critics say, are simply unfilmable. And it’s true — until, of course, they get filmed. This year, we feel like we can’t turn around without running into a new film adaptation of a book that has, until now, been generally agreed to be too stylistically complex, too structurally strange, too epic in proportion for the big screen. While we’re still waiting on Pale Fire and 100 Years of Solitude, we’re getting two in the next two weeks alone: Cloud Atlas and Midnight’s Children. Inspired by this turn of events, we’ve put together a list of a few supposedly unfilmable books that have been adapted into films against all odds — some with great success, and others with, well, less success. Read our list after the jump, and add your own unfilmable favorites in the comments! … Read More
The Wachowskis are known for their expansive, humanist storylines — like the upcoming Cloud Atlas, an interwoven tale starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry that shows how one life is impacted by another throughout the past, present and future. The film received wildly positive praise from critics during an early screening at Austin’s Fantastic… Read More
1. The first full trailer for Ang Lee’s film adaptation of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Life of Pi has arrived online, and while it doesn’t reveal much about the plot, boy oh boy is it pretty.
Today at Flavorpill, we enjoyed Ann Powers’ thoughtful analysis of the growing popularity of the word “swag.” We watched the pilot episode of Showtime’s new big business dark comedy, House of Lies, which stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell and makes its official debut on January 8. We were sad to… Read More
1. Nas is working on an autobiography called It Ain’t Hard to Tell that is scheduled to come out next fall. Says music journalist Touré, who is collaborating with him on the project: “I’ve been talking to Nas about writing his autobiography for 15 years. This is hip hop history. We’ll tell his life &… Read More