Sunday, February 10, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: Mama

2013, Andrés Muschietti -- cinema

There are some movies that I have to see at the giant cineplex, on the big screen with the great sound and crisp glory.  There are steps up I can aspire to, AVX or IMAX, but they just give me headaches.  And then on the other end of the spectrum we have our re-run theatres that have screens not much larger than my coworker's TV.  Those are not for me either.  So if I decide it can live without the big screen, I go see a flick at the nieghbourhood cinema, smaller screens and not always the clearest but satisfactory.  But then sometimes a movie comes along that I honestly cannot tell if it is the sub-standard quality of the projector or screen or is it really that the movie intended on being shown as if through an Instagram filter[1].  Mama was one such film, but to be honest it sort of lent itself to the character of the movie - small, gritty, unadorned and visceral.  The ever present greens and brown fit the tone of the movie.

This movie is based on a short [2] that Guillermo del Toro loved.  He, in his current status of clout and influence (which confuses me considering how he speaks about his derision of Hollywood), helped the director turn the 3 minute vignette into a full-fledged movie.  Its a creepy movie about creepy kids being stalked by a creepy (who was probably a creepy woman in life) ghost.  This is one of those movies where it will scare you if you borrow from the emotional state of the characters.  But it also takes on the tactic of revealing the ghost very early on, more interested in telling the story of how the characters will deal with the ghost than the build-up to the reveal.  Oh, the japanese / korean style scares made me pee my pants a little but my true enjoyment came in how the characters dealt with what they learned.  There was very little cliche blind panic followed by ignoble death.

Jessica Chastain also stood out for me, which isn't hard, considering she is the adult with the most amount of screen time.  She is a rocker chick, a tattooed punker [3] with no interest in kids or family, thrust into responsibility by circumstances.  She adapts to the role and embraces it even as she embraces the creepy cabin kids.  Chastain is a bit of an enigma to me.  Based on how the Hollywood machine has portrayed her, I assumed she had been around for ages in smaller movies only now coming to light.  But no, not really just a few flicks that actually are from the same time the machine focused on her. But she is wonderful here, not at all the statuesque redhead of the runway. And for the life of me, I cannot remember who I think she looks like, which gives a nod to the power of the machine.

[1] There is going to come a time when everyone, and not just people actually using Instagram, forgets an Instagram filter is a computer approximation of a real world camera effect, like a Diana camera using cross-processed Ectachrome film.

[2] Embedded for your  viewing pleasure.... that sounds dirtier than it is.

[3] Does she have Derek Powazek's kraken tattoo ?!?!