Your Weekend at the Movies with an Auteur Threeway

10/26/2012 11:00 AM |

Before this biopic, Cloud Atlas was known as the perfect specimen of 20th-century man
  • Before this biopic, Cloud Atlas was known as the perfect specimen of 20th-century man

Cloud Atlas: Unlike, say, in hip-hop, where mega-star-producer-guest team-ups are expected and encouraged to top each other, there’s something a little bizarre when auteurs get involved in the same movie. Though I love The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox, it’s hard not to keep myself from attempting to parse out which lines came from Wes Anderson and which came from cowriter Noah Baumbach. The movies feel like Anderson in the end, of course, and I’m tickled by the idea that two strong writers would so enjoy each other’s company (and come up with Steve Zissou as a result), but there’s something strange about a pair of strong writing voices layered over each other. That would appear to go double, or at least plus 50 percent, for Andy and Lana Wachowski, already a two-person filmmaking team, adding in Run Lola Run‘s Tom Tykwer for a tri-writing, tri-directing, ampersand-heavy credit. Look at the Matrix trilogy or Speed Racer and tell me how a whole third person is supposed to fit into that vision (for better or for worse; mostly, I say for better).

Maybe the sprawl of Cloud Atlas—it’s based on David Mitchell’s mega-ambitious book and runs almost three hours—left plenty of room for divide-and-conquer collaboration; maybe Tykwer found himself easily absorbed into the Wachowski stable; or maybe (probably) I should just have more faith in filmmakers’ ability to cooperate! In any case, as a fan of the undiluted Wachowski madness on display in Speed Racer (I would implore you to see it, but I’m waiting for the never-coming theatrical IMAX revival) or even those unloved but sometimes amazing Matrix sequels, I’m deeply intrigued by any science-fiction epic so big it had room for a whole other writer-director to jump on board. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, and Jim Broadbent lead a cast of dozens apparently playing a cast of hundreds, because most of the principal actors play at least three parts of various ages, races, time periods and, gulp, ethnicities.

Fun Size: It seems increasingly likely that Adventures in Babysitting was a greater influence on today’s filmmakers than I ever would have imagined of a movie directed by Chris Columbus that I didn’t bother seeing until four or five years ago (and yes, it was totally entertaining, Columbus’s best work as a director). Fun Size is the second riff on that movie in the past 12 months; being a Nickelodeon movie, it’s not as raunchy or bizarre as The Sitter, but it does have odd bits of weirdness that I, as an over-18 non-member of this movie’s target audience, appreciated. On the whole, I had a surprising amount of affection for this not-very-well-made, only fitfully funny, often underdeveloped comedy; more on this in my full review.

Chasing Mavericks: It is imperative that this movie get released, not so that it can inspire people young and old with its tale of truly living life through surfing, because Blue Crush nonwithstanding I could not give a holy hell about surfing, and not so that Gerard Butler can continue making movies in his cuddy, gummy American accent, because frankly I’d rather he didn’t, but so the goddamned trailer can stop playing in any theater anywhere. This trailer got me to the point where I’d almost rather watch the movie in full than watch the trailer again, which I guess for a movie like Chasing Mavericks counts as shrewd marketing.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D: I thought that maybe this sequel to the 2006 video game adaptation Silent Hill could set some kind of record for longest time elapsed (six and a half years) between a movie almost nobody cares about and the theatrical release of a sequel that absolutely nobody cares about. This inspired me to look up how much time elapsed between the release of Universal Soldier and Universal Soldier: The Return. The answer is seven years, but I’m fairly certain that ticket-price increases mean that more people saw the first Universal Soldier than the first Silent Hill (which was a kinda-sorta hit in 2006). But then I got a PR email announcing the existence of Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, which hits VOD services this very weekend, and (I assume “select”) movie theaters in about a month. I was going to say, then, that the 13-year gap between second and third Universal Soldier movies no one cares about certainly takes the cake, but supposedly this isn’t actually the third Universal Soldier movie, but the fourth, because—and again, I have no formal record of this—Universal Soldier: Reckoning (a) also exists and (b) got a theatrical release in 2010. So yes, there is a pair of movies almost no one cares about with a bigger gap between theatrical releases than the Silent Hill series. And: I would probably rather watch either of them before a new Silent Hill movie. I’m not sure if I’m just created a paradox here, but if I have, maybe a Timecop can fix things?