Early Buzz: ‘Cloud Atlas’ Test Screening Reactions

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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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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When last we checked in with the film adaptation of Irvine Welsh‘s novel Filth, which is being directed by Jon S. Baird, the days were still long and warm. That August update revealed that the film about an evil Edinburgh cop would feature James McAvoy, Jamie Bell and Alan Cumming in the key roles.

The film is about to shoot, with a start date set for next week, and it has added a few people. Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt and Imogen Poots are on board now, all of which is good news. But it seems like Alan Cumming might have fallen away. More details on that below. Read More »

Phyllida Lloyd‘s Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady won’t open for a few weeks yet, but with all the buzz Meryl Streep has been getting for her lead turn, it’s no wonder the latest trailer has decided to focus on the woman at its center. The first teaser we saw offered just a brief snippet of Streep-as-Thatcher practicing her public persona, while the UK trailer kept things relatively light with a poppy soundtrack. The new one, however, is a dead-serious look at Thatcher’s personal journey — and through it, Streep’s amazing performance as the former Prime Minister. Watch it after the jump.

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Aardman Animation’s Arthur Christmas opens with a scene that suggests it is not your parents’ holiday movie. In response to one little girl’s query about how Santa manages to deliver all of those gifts around the world in just one night, we’re treated to a thrilling sequence of hundreds of elves jumping out of a giant sleigh-shaped spaceship and delivering the gifts with a high-tech precision that wouldn’t be out of place in a futuristic action thriller.

Spearheading that massive operation is alpha-male Steve (Hugh Laurie), heir apparent to the cushy Santa position currently held by his father Malcolm (Jim Broadbent). Steve and Malcolm, it turns out, are just two members of a long line of Santas that stretch back centuries and also includes Malcolm’s father (Bill Nighy) “Grandsanta,” and Steve’s younger brother Arthur (James McAvoy).

But holiday movies are a decidedly traditional genre, and Arthur Christmas quickly falls into the familiar themes about the magic of Christmas and finding your place in the world and whatnot. Happily, it does so with enough wit and enough feeling to be a cut above some of the more cynical entries in the genre, though it’s not on the level of the best holiday classics.

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Here’s the full UK trailer for The Iron Lady, in which Meryl Streep plays a strangely attractive version of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

There’s a lot of fire in Streep’s performance that will will likely overwhelm any complaints about a lack of authenticity. This trailer is a little bit The King’s Speech, and a little bit poppy thanks to the tongue-in-cheek use of ‘Our House’ by Madness, but in general it gets across the idea of Thatcher as a determined and iron-willed leader. Check it out below. Read More »

‘Arthur Christmas’ US and UK Theatrical Trailers

We’ve seen a couple teaser trailers for the Aardman Animation holiday film Arthur Christmas, and now, two full-length trailers are out. The UK trailer still shows a lot of the elements we’ve seen before — the North Pole as a high-tech gift processing center; Santa’s sleigh as UFO; and the geeky younger member of Santa’s family who acts as the title character — but it also shows off a lot more of the actual story that puts all those elements to work. There are also a few good, cheeky little jokes. And the US trailer has a slightly different approach to the same elements. Check out the trailers below. (Oh, and there are lions, too.) 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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