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We've been excited about Cloud Atlas for quite a while over here, with both Sean and I flipping for it at the Toronto Film Festival and both of us evangelizing to anyone who would listen that it's awesome, "Just give it a shot!" But no matter how many times we try to shake people and tell them about it's greatness, it's a fact that Cloud Atlas is a tricky movie to explain. It tells six stories, set across various centuries, and follows dozens of different characters, most of them played by the same handful of about 10 actors. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry each get six characters, Ben Whishaw and Jim Sturgess get five, and any time you see a familiar face, you can guarantee you'll see them again in a different era-- as a completely different character who may have nothing to do with what you saw before.
The best way to get Cloud Atlas is to see it, of course-- and I really, really hope you will. But if you're still not sold, take a look at this massive featurette, including interviews from all the actors and the three directors (Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer) explaining how the film works and revealing behind-the-scenes footage that helps you follow it even closer. The first six and a half minutes are the best part, a well-edited featurette, but after that there are individual interviews with Hanks, Berry, and the three directors in full.
Having seen the film, it's a ball to get a look at some of the actors being done up in their elaborate makeup, though the close-up of Ben Whishaw as the middle-aged blonde woman is more unnerving than exciting (yes, some makeup jobs are more believable than other ones). And it's really fun to see the behind-the-scenes footage of the Wachowskis and Tykwer working with their actors, plus that little detail of the fake subway ad that advertises the brand "Wykwer and Tachowski." The depth of affection among the three directors is hard to miss, and that kind of warm spirit is certainly a big part of what makes the film so powerful as well.
Cloud Atlas opens this Friday. Please, please go see it and give it a shot for yourself.