Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mammoth. (2009) Lukas Moodysson

I make no bones about the fact that I love Lukas Moodysson's heart and films. I think I even understand why he made A Hole in My Heart, as utterly disgusting a film as it is. And while Lilya 4-Ever grabbed a spot in my Top 10 of last decade, I also found great delight in Fucking Åmål (Show Me Love).

Moodysson has always been nothing less than ambitious. Like a Swedish Gaspar Noé, he's unafraid of sticking the truth as he perceives it right up in your face. That truth may have gotten a little out of hand with the emotional, sensory and pornographic overload of A Hole in My Heart, but Moodysson's point about man's depravity was made. He never shies away from his socialist, vegetarian, humanitarian, or maybe even Christian values.

I have a soft spot for the directors that are characters, unafraid to let it rip into you and burn out your eyeballs if need be.

Mammoth, unfortunately, doesn't do that. And it barely feels like a Moodysson film. But if you've seen Babel and you want a little more of the intersecting lives and social construct of that story, Mammoth might be a place where you can get it.

Two things are easily mentioned as excellence in Mammoth: Gael García Bernal (speaking of Babel!), who has simply gone off the charts in everything he's touched since Cuarón's 2001 film Y tu mamá también. Bernal is becoming one of my favorites.

The other quality that's wonderful about Mammoth is the cinematography itself, created from film crews around the world. But again this reminds me of Babel, and Babel might still have the edge here.

The film does question the global economics of how various cultures are surviving and raising their kids in this age, and no matter the country, no matter the culture, a home without a dad in it is a home in crisis. These are all good points, and Moodysson brings examples from New York, the Philippines and Thailand to make sure we understand his position.

There were scenes in it that I will remember -- especially those of the host mom who finally connects with her child's nanny, just before emergencies separate them both forever. But overall, it is the most dull film in Moodysson's oeuvre. (Having said that I must admit that I still haven't seen his art-film Container.)

I'm still a big fan, and even though I'm less impressed with Mammoth than I've been with his works in the past, I love his values and his social efforts in the film making process. Here's to hoping for more great stuff in Moodysson's future.

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