Monday, October 26, 2009

Mammoth - a movie to forget with a soundtrack to fall in love with

Last night I watched Mammoth. It's a movie about a young and successful couple with Gael Garcia-Bernal in the main role as a New York parent with a 7-year old girl.

Because both parents are so successful and engaged in their respective jobs, they have a Filipino nanny. That's where the cliches start already.

The husband then goes to Bangkok for a business trip, but finds time to relax on a beach. Another cliche. There, he mets an elephant, pot-smoking backpackers and a prostitute, with whom he falls in love with. More cliches!!!

In the meantime, the Filipino nanny misses her two boys back home, the older of which adorably tries to make money by himself helping his mum to come home earlier. I think this was the most moving part of the film where I had to grab a little tissue for myself too...

While the husband is away playing with the Thai prozzie, (whose mock Thai-English accent was NOT good...I could have done better sounding like a Thai prostitute) the wife tries hard to mend things at home, bond more with the daughter and with the nanny (to whom the daughter has a very close relationship).

That's more or less it. At the end, the guilt-ridden dad comes home from tempting Thailand and unites with his young family. The nanny is back in the Philippines in the meantime because her son was badly injured while trying to make money for his mum (guess who injured him....a pedophile American with a Hawaii t-shirt....more cliches)

The point of this movie was, I guess, to criticise our relentless focus on money and consumerism, from which poorer people have to suffer. A noble goal for a movie of course, but Lukas Moodysson (director of Togther, Lilya 4-ever and Fucking Amal) tries so hard to make us realise the inequalities of life, that I became utterly bored with it.

Every single scene is contrived. We know what is going to happen and at the end of the scene, there's some morality waiting. Plus, the movie was patronising, reducing Thailand to a tourist spot with prostitute ladyboys and the Philippines to one big slum with overseas nannies. At least we can see some Bangkok, which should please some homesick people (like me soon).

I ironed 12 shirts and two pants while watching this movie, I was so bored. Sometimes I didnt even look at the screen (well otherwise I would have burnt my fingers...)

There's one thing that really carried this movie though - the music! Here are two samples, one by Ladytron and one by Cat Power. Both songs added either speed or melancholy to the respective scenes - impressive!



kawadjan said...

OMG, I'm glad you pointed out Ladytron. I'm beginning to love them since I first heard their song featured in The September Issue. :-)

On another note... that actress who played the prostitute is quite stunning, no?

BB said...

Ladytron is genious!

how do you like the other song...I like cry every time I am listening to it it's so beautiful!

The Thai actress is indeed gorgeous...but I dont buy her fake thai-english accent. In real life she is probably some hi-so who studied at Cambridge. :)

You agree with my opinion about the movie itself? For you as a Pinoy the movie could have not left you cold, right?

kawadjan said...

The song I like is Destroy Everything You Touch ( I'd listen to the other one too later. :-)

I like the film. Nothing ground-breaking about it but it had its touching moments, i.e. the girl missing her nanny, the doctor trying to save her patient, and a few others.

The movie does not change cinema history primarily because of the cliches, as you pointed out. But it's still worth-watching. It's interesting how many times it had been compared to "Babel".

Re its portrayal of the Philippines and Filipinos, we have gazillions of those movies back home. It's absolutely nothing new. Many movies about the diaspora. Also, our best-selling movies in the film festivals abroad are those set in the slums. Third-world squalor definitely sells!

kawadjan said...

P.S. Just finished listening to the Cat Power song. I'm stunned! It's DI.VINE. I'm so torrenting this. Thanks for the recommendation!

reggie said...

Awesome and Fantastic movie
great story! Loved it
Don't miss it
Go and watch mammoth movie

Emmy said...

I gotta say I loved the movie and the soundtrack! I found it very touching and real!