One of my all-time favorite Comic-Con memories was walking the floor, glimpsing over to a small booth in the 4000s and seeing Larry and Andy Wachowski. The writers and directors of Bound and The Matrix were just sitting there. No line, no nothing. That’s what happens when you make one of the most influential and revered films of a generation but refuse to do interviews about it. You gain a certainly level of anonymity and mystique. The kind that allows you walk around unnoticed Comic-Con, which is exactly how the Wachowskis wanted it.

Since my Comic-Con encounter, where the brothers couldn’t have been nicer, Larry has become Lana and the pair have teamed up with Tom Tykwer to make Cloud Atlas, Warner Bros.’ 2012 Oscar hopeful starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and others, scheduled for release October 26. The film had a long, difficult road to the big screen and is a huge risk, both personally and professionally, for the siblings. To combat that, they’ve finally begun to shed some of their press armor and open up about not only this film, but everything else as well.

We saw a brief video introduction to the film, another clip discussing technique and now The New Yorker has published a stunning profile on Andy and Lana. In it, we learn all about how they became filmmakers, their influences, background, Lana’s gender transformation, the difficulties of financing and adapting Cloud Atlas, the success of The Matrix and even some revealing details on film they partially shot called Cobalt Neural 9. It’s a must read for all film fans. Get the link after the jump. Read More »

The same breathtaking ambition that makes Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer‘s David Mitchell adaptation Cloud Atlas so intriguing also gives it the potential to flop, hard. Weaving together six interlocking stories that cut across time, space, and genre is difficult enough to do within the confines of a novel, to say nothing of a three-hour film. Then there’s that insane casting: stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and Jim Sturgess are each playing multiple characters, in some cases switching genders or races to do so.

Thankfully, buzz from test screenings suggests that much more of it works than not. Keep in mind that quite a few things may have changed in the few months since testing began (for one thing, some of these folks saw a cut that was four hours long), and that these reactions are coming from people whose tastes we don’t know. Even so, a flood of positive reactions seems like a very promising sign. Hit the jump to read the comments.

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POTD: The Many Faces of ‘Cloud Atlas’

Before we’d even seen footage from Cloud Atlas, we knew that co-writers and co-directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski had given their cast a challenge: each actor would play multiple characters in the six interconnected stories that make up the film. Not only that, but actors would be, in some cases, playing characters of different gender and/or race than the actor’s own.

The long debut trailer for the film showed a bit of that in action, as we could see glimpses of Hugh Grant as what appears to be a violent post-apocalyptic shaman, and star Tom Hanks in a few different guises. Now the official site for the film is online, and it gives us some very clear looks at what actors like Hugo Weaving are doing in the film. He’s seen above in relatively “normal” mode on the left, and as a rather ghastly (and somehow Eddie Izzard-like) woman on the right. Check out more after the break. Read More »

/Filmcast Ep. 195 – The Watch

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This week, Dave, Devindra, and Adam reflect on the difficulty of making South Park, praise the Year of Matthew McConaughey, get skeptical about Cloud Atlas, and review Costco: The Movie.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. We’ll be reviewing Total Recall next week.

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We’ve finally got a chance to see footage from Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski‘s genre-hopping and centuries-spanning epic Cloud Atlas. If you just want to watch the footage, hit the jump now. But once you’ve seen that, I expect those who haven’t read the book might be wondering just what the hell is going on.

Because some people don’t start paying attention to a movie until the trailer is out (which makes total sense) let’s recap quickly: the film is based on David Mitchell‘s novel that is structured as a series of six vaguely interrelated stories, presented in an unusual structure. In the novel, you get half the first story, which jumps to the first half of the second, and so on until the entire sixth story plays out at the center of the novel, and then things work back out to the opening, so the end of the book is the second half of the first tale.

The trailer suggests that the film plays up the interconnectedness between stories perhaps even more than the book does. In part that’s because some of the key characters in various tales are played by the same actors. So, as the trailer shows, Tom Hanks and Halle Berry play characters in at least two or three chapters. (And does the trailer reveal too much for one of Berry’s characters? Maybe, but it’s not the worst choice.)

That’s just the beginning. What’s with the shots that look like they’re right out of Amistad? What’s all the futuristic stuff about? Below we’ll use some shots from the film to illustrate what’s going on with the film, in as spoiler-free a manner as possible. Read More »

With Cloud Atlas set to play TIFF, we knew that images and new info would be arriving soon, and now we’ve got the first official pics of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Ben Whishaw as they appear in two of the film’s six stories.

Written and directed by Tom Tykwer (directing one unit) and Andy and Lana Wachowski (co-directing another unit) the film is based on David Mitchell‘s novel of the same name, and features all the actors playing multiple roles, some of which have them crossing gender and racial lines. (Hugh Grant says his characters are “incredibly evil,” too.) Their characters appear in six stories that cross genres and centuries, but are all thematically related, and linked by paths of intersection between the various characters’ lives.

Above you can see Hanks and Berry as they appear in the novel’s final story ‘Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After,’ which takes place in post-apocalyptic Hawaii. (Well, “final” isn’t quite right, as readers of the novel know, but that’s close enough.) Below you’ll find the shot of Broadbent and Whishaw. And more images are coming later today, at which point we’ll update.

Update: the promised additional images are here, and available in a flash player below.

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Andy and Lana Wachowski suffered a big stumble in 2008 with their candy-colored misfire Speed Racer, but the Matrix directors are back with a new project that could be their most intriguing yet. Co-directed by the siblings and Tom Tykwer and based on the acclaimed book by David MitchellCloud Atlas features a star-studded cast — including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, and Bae Doona, each in multiple roles — in six interlinked stories that unfold across different times, places, and genres.

It’s been high on our list of films we’re eager to see, and our anticipation was only heightened by the strong early buzz from test screenings. Now the great news is that we’ll get the chance to check it out sooner than we thought. Warner Bros. has just set a U.S. release date of October 26 for the film, bumping it up several weeks from its previously announced December 6 release date. Read more after the jump.

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There’s a lot going on at Cannes right now, but one of the most exciting activities is the deal-making for Cloud Atlas. The ambitious film from Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski adapts David Mitchell‘s novel, which is comprised of six nested stories that span genres and centuries.

I’ve been madly curious about the film. I like the source material, and the cast is impressive: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona. That those people are all playing multiple roles, with Hugh Grant calling some of his “incredibly evil,”  is more intriguing.

Now reports out of Cannes suggest that the film actually works. We’re hearing that the movie is almost three hours long, and that it is being set for a US release date of December 6, right in awards-season territory. Read More »

And this is part of why I positioned Cloud Atlas, written and directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, as my second most-anticipated film of 2012.

Let’s run through the basics again, for those who are just joining in: One film. Two parallel film units with three directors shooting six interconnected stories. Most of the cast plays multiple roles, sometimes switching genders and races in tales that range from classic adventure to detective thriller to dystopian sci-fi.

We know the cast (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona) but have only known a bit about the characters each person will play. Now Hugh Grant is talking about Cloud Atlas, and it sounds like he had the time of his life playing six “incredibly evil” characters, even if each is a relatively small role. Read More »

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Russ Fischer’s 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2012

Enough about 2011; let’s look ahead to 2012. This past year was good about offering a diverse set of films that catered to many tastes, especially crowds that wanted something out of the range of standard multiplex fare. But 2012 looks like a much stronger year. We can almost always look ahead to a new year and say that there is a great batch of new films from established favorite filmmakers, movies with wonderful casts,  giant event movies and promising indies. But 2012 looks like it has more of those than usual. It’s going to be a good year for movie watchers.

After some deliberation (which no doubt has still allowed me to overlook something for which I’ll facepalm later) here is a list of ten films that I’m very excited to see in 2012, followed by a full page of discussion about a whole bunch of other movies that didn’t make my personal cut but are still bright spots on the 2012 calendar for various reasons. This list could change a lot in the next couple weeks, as Sundance (and then Cannes in May) could reveal a good many new films that will be bright spots on the calendar in ’12.

I’ve also exercised a certain hopefulness here, as there are a few films that don’t yet have official 2012 release dates. Let’s hope they don’t slip. Read More »