Alison did not like Cloud Atlas, because she is wrong. (I liked it quite a bit—I'll admit it has a few problems, but the audacity of the thing and its accomplishments in general outweigh any specific quibbles I might have.) It's rare to see a movie like this one—for depressing reasons that will surprise no one, even having the Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer, and Tom Hanks onboard wasn't enough to secure funding:
Cloud Atlas, with a budget that reached $100 million and distribution by Warner Brothers, had to be financed independently through private investors, many in Asia. As Mr. Wachowski pointed out, a little sardonically, “Sometimes the making of the movie was more interesting than the story of the movie itself.” Backers kept dropping in and then dropping out, even after contracts had been signed, forcing the filmmakers to keep whittling the budget.
“It was a constant beating down,” Mr. Tykwer said. “A couple of times the movie fell apart even as we were shooting it.”
Mr. Hanks said that “the way the industry works now, they don’t give money for independent films like this.” He went on: “The Wachowskis sank a lot of their own money into it. They were like Walt Disney mortgaging the house to make Snow White.”
He laughed and added: “They should have sold it as a sequel. Call it Cloud Atlas II, and you can have all the money you want.” (Via.)
Cloud Atlas is interesting on its own, and the story behind it is too (that Times piece is recommended), but one of the other elements about it that's been great to watch is seeing Lana Wachowski—formerly known as Larry Wachowski—out in the public eye. On Saturday she spoke at the Human Rights Campaign's annual gala, and her speech is worth a read. The Hollywood Reporter has a transcript of the whole thing.
Andy and I have not done press or made a public appearance including premieres in over 12 years. People have mistakenly assumed that this has something to do with my gender. It does not. After The Matrix was released in '99 we both experienced this alarming contraction of our world and thus our lives. We became acutely aware of the preciousness of anonymity—understanding it as a form of virginity, something you only lose once. Anonymity allows you access to civic space, to a form of participation in public life, to an egalitarian invisibility that neither of us wanted to give up. We told Warner Bros. that neither one of us wanted to do press anymore. They told us, “No. Absolutely not. This is non-negotiable. Directors are essential to selling and marketing a movie.” We said, “OK, we get it. So if it’s a choice between making movies or not doing press, we decided we’re not going to not make movies.” They said, “Hang on. Maybe there’s a little room for negotiation.”
So this position in that negotiation was being examined in Berlin three months ago. All of us are conscious of the fact that not only will it be Andy and my first public appearance in a long time, but it will also be the first time that I speak publicly since my transition. Parenthetically this is a word that has very complicated subject for me because of its complicity in a binary gender narrative that I am not particularly comfortable with. Yet I realize the moment I go on camera, that act will be subject to projections that are both personal and political....
So the three of us talk. We like to talk. (You’re probably realizing right now, uh oh, we got a talker here. There will be an intermission after about an hour, so.) We’re alternating perspectives quite conscious of the fact that we have just made a film about this subject—about the responsibilities us humans have to one another, that our lives are not entirely our own. There is dialogue from the film merging easily with the discussion and I find myself repeating a line from a character who I was very attached to who speaks about her own decision to come out. She says, “If I had remained invisible, the truth would have remained hidden and I couldn’t allow that.” (Via.)
BONUS! Not Cloud Atlas-related, but Wachowski-related: io9's Annalee Newitz on why Speed Racer is totally underrated. Which it is.