Mamo #285: 2012 Unchained

Happy new year! Mamo casts its eyes back on the year 2012, the year in which the Avengers assembled, the Dark Knight rose, and the words “Mayan apocalypse” turned out to be referring to Taylor Kitsch’s career. The Matts give a broad survey of what worked, what didn’t work, and what were (in our wide and varied opinions) the best films of the year.

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New podcast! Introducing the Very Important Podcast on The Substream

Mamo and The Substream are proud to present our brand new podcast! As an offshoot of Matt Price’s series on The Substream, Very Important Dudes and Dudettes In Film History, Team Mamo and Team Substream have come together to make a fiendish podcast-baby.

We call it The Very Important! Podcast.

Our aim is to do these roughly monthly, with a panel discussion of the career, themes, and influences of one or more Very Important Dude or Dudette in Film History. We kick things off with the Wachowskis, co-directors of Cloud Atlas. Joining us on the panel this month is special guest star / Row Three podcasting guru Kurt Halfyard.

The podcast is being submitted to iTunes even as I write this, and in the meantime you can listen to the show over on The Substream.

Mamo #277: From A to Atlas

The Skyfall countdown continues as the TIFF Bell Lightbox opens Bond up in a big way, and half of Mamo reports on the outcome of the six-film Bond vs. Blofeld overnight marathon – a conversation which transitions surprisingly easy into our thoughts on the release of Cloud Atlas, and the battle lines thereto – currently forming in moviegoing circles around the globe.

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Extended Review: Cloud Atlas


Where to begin with Cloud Atlas? I admire the chutzpah of such an unusually expensive film experiment but how far can admiration of ambition go if the result is so tedious? The film is basically the Voltron of off-beat speculative fiction cinema insofar as it is over-large, rather gaudy and significantly lacking in any sort of grace. It is the kind of viewing experience where a disinterested malaise sets in at about the 45 minute mark, with two full hours still to go. The realization comes sharp and early that the Siblings Wachowski and Tom Tykwer have taken the five (or is it six?) archetypal stories out of David Mitchell’s novel and frappé’d them into interconnected, bite-sized storytelling morsels. The three directors wheezily labour to say something about the human condition, storytelling and re-incarnation that goes beyond the ‘droplet in the ocean’ platitudes,’ but the cumulatively result is merely a structural affectation; a meticulously crafted object successful in making all the pieces fit more or less together into a ideological puzzle. What seems elude the three directors in the effort to slosh gallons of latex on their actors, is the very reason why we like these tales (Soylent Green, One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest, All The President’s Men, Farinelli and Amistad to name a few) that are both larger than life and absolutely human. The ideological bent of the film agrees with me: Social boundaries will always be present, and people should strive to break them. To wit: Larry Wachowski crossing gender and handle to Lana and still being able to create mega-effects multiplex fodder for the masses, even if, ultimately, those struggles for dollars and freedoms granted yield something like Cloud Atlas. What we remain stuck with the pretty but lifeless shenanigans in The Matrix Reloaded around Zion (The dreadlocked rave, Link’s domestic situation, et cetera) and in adventure movie terms, this eager-beaver epic makes the handsome yet turgid pile of good intentions that was John Carter seem as fresh and rollicking as The Empire Strikes Back.

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Cinecast Episode 273 – It’s TIFF 2012!

Thanks once again to Ryan McNeil of The Matinee for dropping back in for our huge TIFF recap (and almost spoiler-free!). Andrew sits in quiet solitude on the sofa, acting mainly as an audience member (admittedly, mostly fiddling with Pinterest and playing Tiger Woods Golf) with much amusement as Ryan and Kurt recap a large chunk of their TIFF experience. Sadly, due to the late hour of recording, there was no time left for The Watch List. We are happy, hoever to kick of the Fall Semester of homework assignments. The discussion gets pretty spirited where there is agreement and disagreement on many of the films screening at this years festival. Drop in again next week for a return to our usual programming: a lengthy discussion on PT Anderson’s The Master and responses to this first volley of homework assignments.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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TIFF 2012 Review: Cloud Atlas

Where to begin with Cloud Atlas? The interminably long film is basically the Voltron of off-beat science fiction movies. This is what happens when you take five (or six) familiar genre-stories and juxtapose them (ok, put them in the blender and hit frappe!) in an effort say something profound about the human condition. That the end results is merely a structural confection, its ambition successful in making all the pieces fit more or less together into a grand puzzle but sacrificing the very reason why we like these tales. The sacrifice on the altar of science fiction grandiosity is empathy, character development and me ever giving a damn. The films basic ideas and premise agree with me: That social boundaries are made to be broken (as per director Larry Wachowski crossing genders to Lana); that we process the human condition through narrative; that we’ve not grown as much as we like to think as a species over the past few thousand years, and maybe, that we never will. These are all great things to tackle in your science fiction blockbuster, yet each and every one of them is treated here in the most facile (and banal) fashion. Remember all the flat, unnecessary shenanigans in The Matrix Reloaded around the Zion (The dreadlocked rave, Link’s domestic situation, et cetera)? So much of Cloud Atlas felt that way to me: Lifeless and tedious. In blockbuster adventure movie terms, it makes the handsome, turgid pile of good intentions that was John Carter seem as fresh and rollicking as The Empire Strikes Back.

In all of its 2 hour 45 minute run time, the only real surprises, you know, those big ‘Ooooh!’ moments in any film (either pop art or art house) are during the closing credit sequence when you discover how the make-up department slapped on goop and facial prosthetics to disguise each member of its ensemble. This is a fundamental problem, one of Python-wannabe-ism and Cloud Atlas ends up an act of accidental and unfunny sketch comedy. Even if it has little in the way of intentions to be funny, outside of the thread where Jim Broadbent is imprisoned in an old age home by his brother, too much of the generic story telling in each of the individual stories comes across as half-sketched ideas where gimmicks and not actual humanity, are the glue that binds. One can only take so many cringe-worthy Tom Hanks accents in a film. The most egregious of these is his Tru-Tru speak as a middle aged man running around in rags with Halle Berry in a Ridley-Walker-lite post-apocalyptic world (which is not even Earth, but who cares at this point, right?) I’ve always wanted to see an attempt a film of that iconic yet ‘unfilmable novel,’ and it pains me here to see the form used just as a mere building block. The filmmakers reach very much exceeds their grasp and they are so swallowed by the breadth of their ambitions that they lose sight of the very humanity they are trying to encompass. The film decides that one trip with Jar-Jar-Hanks is not enough and so revisits the character as a goofy old codger. A storyteller that Hanks ‘matures’ into after ‘winning’ Cloud Atlas’s karmic video-game (Spoiler Alert – A typecast Hugo Weaving and a surprisingly versatile yet often unrecognizable Hugh Grant come out as the big karmic losers.) Hanks’ is the Ur-narrator, the everyman, even though his thread is end-story chronologically, it is also the most primitive. Get it? Get it? Any time in human history, we have the same problems and we strive onward and that the striving may seem futile but it is not. I like the idea, but this is kindergarten Buddhism in the telling.

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Mamo’s #TIFF12 Coverage, Part Five: Where Is Here

Special guest star Andrew Robinson joins us on the last day of the Toronto International Film Festival 2012 for our final TIFF ’12 podcast! We wrap up the festival including the audience choice award announcements, and talk To The Wonder, Cloud Atlas, 90 Minutes, Room 237, Reality, Byzantium, Ginger & Rosa, The We and the I, and Everyday. And that’s the end. See you next year!

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Tykwer and the Wachowski’s; Together

Cloud Atlas Book CoverI nearly jumped with glee when I saw news over at Filmstalker that Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is teaming up with the Wachowski Brothers in the adaptation of “Cloud Atlas”, David Mitchell’s Booker Prize winning novel.

Dear god…could this really be happening? Three of my favourite directors working together? According to the original news source Tykwer says that “it is a really fascinating and ultra-demanding concept which I am developing with the Wachowski brothers for me to direct.”

I’ve never read the novel but looking over the wikipedia entry, I can understand why he’d need the help with the adaptation; I’m having a hard time figuring out what the book is about outside of the fact that it spans from the 19th century to the “post-apocalyptic future”; three of my favourite words.

I’m sold.