Cloud Atlas Director’s Commentary – Even More Surreal Promotion

At the same time as the lengthy trailer was released for Cloud Atlas, Warner Bros also released this shorter “director’s commentary” video. The idea may have been to clarify the trailer to make it clearer for the rest of us. The studio might have been thinking, “Please, just have a chat about the film on camera so they know this is not a joke.”

But I find this video, in some ways, more bizarre than the trailer itself.

1) The first question I had – who is Lana Wachowski? Last time I remembered hearing the Wachowski name was on V for Vendetta, and then there were the Wachowski Brothers, Larry and Andy, wasn’t there? Is she Andy’s wife and his brother doesn’t do films any more? And, then slowly, as I was watching the video it dawned on me that, somewhere in the last decade or so, Larry had become Lana. I believe if I’d been following the gossip rags, I might have heard about this earlier, but given that the Wachowskis never do interviews, this is actually a first for many people to see them since The Matrix.

2) The strange shared sentences. Who thought this idea up? The Warner Bros marketing team? The three directors? Either way, the fact that this is not a straight-up interview where the three explain the film just makes the whole thing more bizarre. (Especially Andy’s “big booming voice” sound when he’s pretending to be a producer …)

I think the most useful thing that could be gleaned from this video is an explanation that they’re trying to do a multi-genre film and (more importantly) that author David Mitchell loved their script. I don’t think films have to slavishly follow their source books, but I do think they should generate the same spirit. So if Mitchell liked it, it’s probably a good sign. (With no reviews yet, we’ll just have to wait and see.) But only a few days more till its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, so hopefully we’ll find out soon.

Cloud Atlas: Is This The Best Movie Trailer Ever?

I’ve been a bit absent from the world of blogging lately, but I’ve been tempted to return because of one of the most intriguing (to me) film trailers I’ve seen in years. To get the full effect of the trailer, I’ll let you watch it for yourself.

See what I mean? You’re watching along, thinking – okay, story set in multiple time periods about people making the same mistakes, etc. etc. Is it like The Hours? Then all of a sudden, about the two minute mark, there are Asian clones, the music ramps up and it’s like Blade Runner meets The Matrix. Then the last two minutes are almost indescribable. Smashing plates? Hugo Weaving with mutton chops? What’s all this about?

I wasn’t sure what the trailer was about, but I instantly loved it. Because it shows ambition. It’s the thing that’s been missing from Hollywood for about the last decade. I’ve been complaining to anyone who will listen that movies have totally gone downhill the last few years. I’m not sure whether piracy is to blame, or just a particularly boring bunch of producers at the top of the system, but whatever is going on, the results have been horrendous: Transformers movies, prequels, sequels, reboots, remakes of old TV series, endless superhero franchises, and increasingly stupid Tim Burton / Johnny Depp freakshows. (Come on – where’s the Tim who made Big Fish?)

It seems as if the studios won’t greenlight anything unless it’s a) really cheap or b) guaranteed to be a hit beforehand (thus the prequels, reboots, etc). The end result of this is that what gets pushed to the side is the mid-price films. The ones that cost $100 million or so. Everything is either small and indy or massive event cinema. And event cinema usually means dumb. (The one exception to this has been the incredibly talented Christopher Nolan, who has proven that you can be big budget and smart, but he seems to be a rare breed.)

So when I came across this trailer for Cloud Atlas, I was blown away that some studio exec somewhere had signed off on clearly quite a lot of money to make a film that is pitching high above the average film-goer. (Or at least pitching above what studio execs think the average film-goer is like.)

As a result, I’ve gotten very curious about the whole film, especially because there’s not a lot of info out there about the film. I’m in two minds about it at the moment – it could be a total disaster of a film, or it could be the movie event of 2012. Either way, this is the kind of smart, original work, made with a decent budget, that has been missing from our cinema for a long time and I, for one, am going to shell over the money to see it just to encourage more innovative cinema.

Of course, the more pressing question for most of my readers might be, “That’s all well and good – but after 5 1/2 minutes, I still can’t tell – WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT?” I got curious about that, and started reading the book straight away on Kindle. It’s rather lengthy, so I’ll report back on that shortly.