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Later this week what might be the most ambitious and truly spectacular film of the year will debut in Toronto. OK, that could really apply to a lot of the big fall movies premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, but in particular I mean Cloud Atlas, the new film from Wachowski siblings Andy and Lana in collaboration with Tom Tykwer, an adaptation of David Mitchell's sprawling and brilliant novel that has already promised half a dozen innovative things, before much of anyone has even seen it.
If you missed it, you must watch the movie's stunning extended trailer, then keep that in mind as you read the new feature published at The New Yorker, where Aleksandar Hemon doesn't just write about his experience visiting the set of Cloud Atlas and watching the Wachowskis and Tykwer struggling to assemble financing before that, but about conversations with the three in which they talk about their "childhood camp" experience writing the film, Lana's transition to becoming a woman and accepting her gender identity, and even why they cast Tom Hanks as a variety of characters, from conniving 19th-century doctor to futuristic savage who might be the savior of humanity.
It's a terrific article that a summary won't really do justice, not just really diving in to how the Wachowskis work together, but the nitty gritty of how a massive film like this is financed independently, and how the Wachowskis and Tykwer wrapped their heads around Mitchell's giant novel with a stunning simple pitch to financiers: "Tom Hanks starts off as a bad person, but evolves over centuries into a good person.” There's also author Mitchell, who approves of the movie so much he thinks it might be even better than the book, and his incredible description of the Wachowskis and their directing process:
Mitchell refers to the two as “a kite operation”: “Andy is on the ground, handling the spindle, anchored, while Lana is up there, performing the loops.”
And while you can't take anything Hemon writes as an unbiased endorsement, he has seen the film, and says it's "poised to usher audience into an era of imaginative adventure filmmaking beyond the mindless nihilism of Transformers or Resident Evil." Which, of course, is exactly the kind of thing people were saying about The Matrix 13 years ago.
Read the whole article, and join me in my feverish anticipation for Cloud Atlas, which Sean will actually be seeing first at TIFF later this week. Stay tuned for his writeup of that, and our full festival coverage coming soon!