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 »

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 »

We’ve talked a lot about Cloud Atlas, which sees Tom Tykwer teaming up with Andy and Lana Wachowski to head up parallel film units each shooting three tales adapted from David Mitchell‘s novel. The cast is great (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona) and we’ve gone over and over about how the actors are playing multiple roles, genders and races. It’s big ambitious stuff, but if you haven’t read the novel it might also be easy to get totally lost in all the explanation. (Having read the book, it becomes a lot more clear, I promise.)

We;ve seen a few on-set photos and recently got a production wrap photo that shows a few of the props and set dressing bits used in the film.

But how about a couple more images? There is now one shot that suggests a lot about how the book’s six stories are being visually connected, as it shows the ship from the first tale seemingly approaching the dystopian version of Seoul, South Korea that is the setting for the fifth. There is also a great concept rendering of Seoul in the year 2144, complete with a high-speed pursuit in progress. And, as a bonus, we’ve got an actual shot of South Korean actress Bae Doona as she appears in the film. Check ’em all out below. Read More »

I’ve gone on and on about Cloud Atlas, the film that Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski are directing based on the novel by David Mitchell. You’ll have to excuse my interest and enthusiasm — the film is a genre-hopping collection of six stories, with Tykwer and the Wachowskis directing parallel film units that each tackled three tales. It’s a crazy piece of ambitious filmmaking.

The cast is huge (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona) and most actors are playing multiple roles. We’ve seen some spy pics of the shot, but now we have the first official image. It shows none of the actors, but does give a rare look at the Wachowskis, and shows some hints of the production design that should help ground the movie for anyone who has read the book.

Check out the pic below. Read More »

From the very beginning, the Andy and Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer adaptation of the David Mitchell novel Cloud Atlas has sounded pretty crazy. There’s the simple fact that the book is built out of six stories, each of which follows a different set of characters and is based on a different genre of storytelling. (You’ll find a ’70s thriller, a post-apocalyptic story of rebuilding civilization, a parable about corporate-controlled society, and more.) Some of the characters are releated to others in different stories, and there’s the idea that one soul connects all the tales. That’s just the book!

The film features a massive cast, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona. We know that many cast members are playing multiple characters in different stories, sometimes changing race and gender. And the film is being shot in two parallel halves, with Tom Tykwer directing three stories and the Wachowskis directing three. This movie might be a wreck, but if so it will still be the most fascinating wreck of 2012. And if it is good it might be remarkable.

In a new piece that focuses on the unconventional funding model for the movie, we get a bit more info about who’s directing what, and what characters at least one of the actors is playing. Read More »

The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams (who, like John Goodman, just guest-appeared on Community) was in the running for the title role in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, and though he lost the part to Jamie Foxx, he may still end up in the film, in a part written just for him.

Hopefully another new job won’t get in the way; Williams will now also be a producer and actor in Life Garland‘s indie thriller The Suspect, written by Stuart Connelly. Here’s how the writer describes the film: “Two African American social scientists pose as bank robbers in an effort to understand the racial dynamics of small-town law enforcement. However, their experiment takes an unplanned, deadly turn.” That’s a great premise that could be the beginning of a compelling film. We’ll definitely follow the development. Shadow and Act reveals that Isaiah Washington is also set for the film.

After the break, David Duchovny rides a sub, and The Last Stand and Cloud Atlas get new actors. Read More »

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Cloud Atlas is one of the most interesting projects shooting this fall, as Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski have co-written and are co-directing an adaptation of David Mitchell‘s genre- and centuries-spanning novel.

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Bae Doona are all in the cast, and will all play multiple roles. (Some will play different genders and races, too.) Tykwer and the Wachowskis will each direct separate film units, presumably with each unit tackling three of the novel’s six interconnected stories. But questions of exactly who plays who, and which stories each unit will film, have been unanswered so far.

The first set photos have arrived, and they start to answer those questions. The pics confirm that one of Halle Berry’s roles is Luisa Rey, a journalist who runs into trouble when she investigates goings-on at a nuclear power plant. And it seems that her story is one that Tykwer is directing. Read More »

This isn’t the sort of movie that we normally see Hugh Grant agree to make. The guy is drawn to romcoms of various stripes, with the last vaguely edgy movie he made possibly being the ’96 thriller Extreme Measures.

So it’s a big surprise — and not an unpleasant one — to see Grant booking a role in Cloud Atlas, the century-spanning, genre-hopping literary adaptation from co-writers and co-directors Tom Tykwer and Andy & Lana Wachowski. Read More »

My interest in the Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski adaptation of David Mitchell‘s novel Cloud Atlas just grew even more. We’ve reported on the film a fair few times, and it continues to sound wild. The book is an odd beast, with six stories, each presented in halves and nested within one another, that cover hundreds of years, dozens of characters and quite a few genres from nautical adventure to post-apocalyptic societal reboot.

Then there’s the fact that Tykwer and the Wacowskis are directing the film together, but with parallel film units. And the topline cast, which includes Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent and Bae Doona, is all set to play multiple roles. Now actor Ben Whishaw says that the actors will swap gender and race, too. (For Hanks, it’ll be Bosom Buddies 2.0.) How can you not be excited for this movie? Read More »

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Jim Sturgess Joins the Cast of ‘Cloud Atlas’

The latest addition to Cloud Atlas is Jim Sturgess, who is currently muddling through the film One Day opposite Anne Hathaway. The film is based on a David Mitchell novel, which is divided into six centuries-spanning tales that embody various genres from nautical adventure to sci-fi and post-apocalyptic rebirth, is quite a piece of work, tying grand stylistic playfulness to genuinely moving ideas about the interconnected nature of all our lives. It sounds like a massive undertaking, and the actor recently spoke about the possibilities of the job. Read More »