Yesterday Mayaoel and I went to see Mamma Mia!, on its first day. The theater was packed, which surprised me for some reason. It’s a sappy musical which probably meets no standards for great films, but I loved it. To see Meryl Streep jumping on the bed, and singing ABBA song after ABBA song just tickled me for some reason. The setting is beautiful, a funky hotel on a gorgeous Greek island, and the cast is stellar. Pierce Brosnan doesn’t sing all that well, but he does it, and Streep is really quite a good singer. Everyone sings and dances and it’s generally silly with a little story line. There are a couple of slightly raunchy parts, but they are just funny, nothing over the top. I can’t tell you that it is a deeply affecting movie, but I can say that I loved it. I’d watch it again, I think just for the fun of it. One reviewer captured the gist of the movie, I think: “it’s at once dorkily wholesome and proudly slutty.” Yeah. That’s what I thought.
“Mama Mia!” was in sharp contrast to “Mongol” which I went to see twice this week. (Why you ask? I get why, but probably can’t explain it to anyone.) Mongol is an epic movie, which supposedly gives a historical perspective on the childhood and young adulthood of Genghis Khan. It is subtitled, which oddly enough I quit noticing after a while. The plot kind of hangs on an early quote by the young Termudgen’s father in which he says, in effect, that if you try to change tradition you will turn the world upside down. Termudgen, who became Genghis Khan did both. He changed the customs to which his people were accustomed and of course, turned the world upside down. Or at least half of it. I was so interested in the structure of the plot development that I had to see it twice. There are several battle scenes which include splashing blood – lots of swordplay, scimitars flashing, etc. I squinted through those parts. You can tell when to look again because the clanking of metal on metal, the yelling and the visceral grunts cease. I am not at all a bloody battle scene lover, but I still loved this movie.
I don’t go to that many movies, and am pretty picky about those I see because I don’t want to waste my time or money. (This is not to say I have good taste in movies, I’m just choosy for my own reasons.) I was driven to see both of these, though, and am glad I did. So I recommend both of my movie choices this week.
ADDENDUM: One reason I loved “Mongol” is that it is a love story, believe it or not. His dedication to his wife was steadfast, and she was a powerful force in his life. I just listened to a show on NPR from New York Public Radio which had a segment about DNA, and it seems that Genghis Khan has millions of descendants all across Asia, Russia, Mongolia: follow his trail. The hosts of the show spoke with a historian who has studied him and verified that he was extremely prolific in his sexual encounters with the women of the villages his army plundered. Apparently there was a rule that the “pretty ones ” were to be saved for the boss, Genghis Khan himself. They said that most men who lived in that time period would have approximately 800 descendants who carry his DNA. (See Link to National Geo article.) The Khan has over a million. WHOA!! Truth be told, I’m disappointed in him. My impression was different from this. If this is part one of a trilogy, it looks like I’ll have to go see the others.