Sinatoro: It’s a roadtrippy movie due for global release in 2012, written & directed by the team of Grant Morrison (we heart 4evs) and Adam Egypt Mortimer (video director bloke man).

It was announced just the other week at the San Diego Comic-Con with an emphasis on obviously how rad-awesome-skill it’s going to be, but also promises of how original new, innovative etc. the whole production is going to be, from promotion to the shoot to the DVD commentary no doubt. (We’ll do that by the way: exclusive superfan commentary by us for the Blu Ray 2-disc edition, yeah? Who could say no?) What this means for a no-cash indie flick like this is, inevitably, crowdsourced marketing with a viral twist. ‘X-Ray Cinema’ someone called it, not the next step on from 3D with added cancer risk, but referring presumably to the avowed full disclosure & transparency from the production team that we’re told will be part and parcel of the movie’s gestation.

Here are the basics, spreading linkmulch around like the finest organic man-manure:


(Plenty links on those pages above to some interviews at IO9, CBR and other places, which we’ll no doubt be referring to a bit throughout this post, some of which go in to the movie in some depth, given how nascent the whole project still is. The total disclosure thing seems genuine at least, although time will tell if this approach has been wise – I still want the movie to surprise me, ‘know? Whatever, good for them because they’ve been busy, putting the word out there proactively, which hopefully means they have been able to find backers, rather than the reverse. [which it might! – Zom])

So far so un-unusual ho-hum…. ah, who’re we kidding? it would be easy, too easy to be sniffy about this shameless grab to keep their promo costs down, but come on: this is Grant Morrison and his chum –  our hearts were theirs years ago. We’re going to take them at their word: stick the accumulated Sinatoro stuff through the usual Mindless Ones Dot Com reading machine, and see what comes out the other side.

Poster first. Like the whole concept so far, it hints at a lot while giving away very little. Black soulstuff escaping from the spacesuit-shell of an astronaut, somehow incongruously transplanted from the Sea of Tranquility to the Mother Road itself, Route 66, somewhere in or near the Mojave desert.

Seasoned Moz watchers will immediately think of a few things. Everyone knows you go crazy when you go into space. Apocryphally, astronauts were selected on their lack of susceptibility to the strange powers of metaphor – being blindsided by the moon or watching earthrise apparently too intense for anyone of even a remotely poetic sensibility to experience without cracking up entirely. All of the surviving moonwalkers came back… different, with even the PR-friendly, level-headed Aldrin telling tales of UFO encounters on his journey.


The lost astronaut, the space traveller (outer- or inner-) who goes too far out and comes back changed is a staple of late C2oth SF,  figuring both the literal spacemen of the Apollo programs and subsequently, and their contemporary psychonauts who journeyed in the opposite direction. You’ll remember Johnny Zhivago, fucked on the vodka he’s somehow drinking through his helmet, in the back of Really & Truly’s shaggin’ wagon; and the buzz-cut drunk in the bar who tells Flex Mentallo that the superheroes are real.

The problem here, the problem everywhere, is one of gravity. In the extropian worldview that Moz hasn’t explored explicitly since the nineties but has leaked out in his other work since the Invisibles/Flex days (Flex trade = soon btw. Good.) the force of gravity is like an Old Testament Jehovah, the master and enemy of man, constantly getting in the way, constantly fucking things up, constantly dragging everyone back to earth with a vicious bump. Evolution is a journey upward. The millions of years between the seabed amoebae and the first fish crawling ont the land was one step. Earth-life’s next  is to go beyond the planet’s gravity well and into a post-gravitational existence. It seems likely that flesh may have to be shed, dissolved into black smoke perhaps,  in order for this journey to become viable. Astronauts who experience low- or no-gravity conditions for an extended period of time come back strange because they have fundamentally changed- they are post-gravitational organisms. In going into space, one does not encounter aliens – one becomes an alien.

One of the most explicit nods the interviews have given us, something those used to wandering apparently without aim or end in the dense atmospheres of GMs best comics will be familiar with, is the Bardo narrative, the post-death experience. Liberation Through Cinema During The Intermediate State. Sinatoro, if it is anything , is dead. If Sinatoro exists in the Bardo, beyond life incarnate, post-gravitational conditions can be expected. Up will be down. Black will be white. Nothing will be as it seems.

Sinatoro is said aloud to sound like ‘Sinatra’, deliberately calling out to the memory of Ol’ Blue Eyes, the dynamic ‘O!’ modification at the end giving with a pulpy comic-book scifi emphasis, like poor Max Thunderstone’s personal creed, mashing Buddhism, Machismo and maybe even Bushido to give the warrior-geek religion of ‘Buddhismo!’ Frank last appeared in a GM comic, but very obliquely, in the crossword in Seven Soldiers #1. Q: To do is to be or to be is to do? A: Do Be Do Be Doooo…. The popularly conceived postmortem separation of body and soul which Sinatoro appears to take as its base precept is precisely of this Cartesian nature. Sinatra Sr’s publicly-held life-story revolves around a similar Janus-like paradox: What Frank ‘was’ was the blue-eyed crooner, the emodiment of America’s best values, good to his mother, gracious to his friends and strangers alike,  singer with a voice that could move tyrants to tears. What Frank ‘did’ was beat his wives, mix with the mob to counteract his momma’s boy image,  treat Sammy Davis like shit, ruin his incredible talent with booze and cigs because he thought it made him tough… He did it his way. Come the end, the final journey, we all do it our way.


(The best Sinatra is Nancy of course, though even she is at risk of being rinsed of any meaning by the on going grind of repackaged dead nostalgia – did I imagine her giving one of her dad’s handkerchiefs to Simon Cowell as some awful tribute, in return for a good seat on American Idol? Please tell me I did…  Nancy’s candypop-sheen-over-dusty- deep-West-rock vibe is likely to find a resonant tone in Sinatoro also. See below, however. Nancy also stars in Speedway, the best Elvis movie. Extra points for featuring a young Bill Bixby, threatening to Hulk out at any moment and nick Elvis’ sandwich.)


It’s not til you hear it said out loud that ‘Sinatoro’ takes on those associations though. The word itself, the glyph, the letters alone, have their own distinct resonance. Why the extra ‘o’? Why make the word so easily bisect into Sina Toro? It doesn’t take long for the pig etymology machine to turn ‘Sina Toro’ into ‘Chinese Bull’, a precise description of the thing currently killing America, and hence an extremely provocative title for a Western/road movie, those being the two quintessential USian genres. Capital has lately found a home even more amenable to its blank desire – the centralised, authoritarian and socially codified Eastern economies providing even less resistant channels for the progress of its colonisation of Earth. The death of the American empire – an empire won through the superiority of the image as weaponry – will be the great death explored throughout Sinatoro. Lao Tse was last seen several hundred years ago, riding a bull, heading West.

Side note: The movie’s obvious cinematic spiritual predecessors:




There’s been a certain amount of chat about the film so far, but nothing of that key ingredient in any hipster road movie – the music. The important choice here seems to be the time-honoured one – score or songs? Backroom Mindless thought is leaning towards giving the job to  a modern solo electro-ambient hero like the never-hipper oneohtrixpointnever, maybe Christian Fennesz‘ guitar-glitch or something from Cali-raga droner James Ferraro. The sonic landscape of American psychedelia is pure rock though, with its favourites and standards and essential refrains. The best way to ensure the movie has both a classic, unified theme and space to include the tunes it’s going to be impossible not to feature in a morbid road movie (Don’t Fear the Reaper) is to give the gig to an instrumental turntablist like Phillip Jeck who will be able to fold the rock hooks and spacious Western atmospherics into a single cohesive score.

Side notes: Things Sinatoro MUST NOT have #1: An astronaut, or anyone wearing moonboots, trudging down the freeway with ‘These boots were made for walking’ playing over the top. NO

Things Sinatoro MUST NOT have #2: ‘The hero wakes up with no memory and finds an Ace of Spades in his breast pocket… with a bullet hole in it!’  Let’s not have it too much like a video game, eh? Whenever I play games they always seem to involve lots of getting stuck in corners, looking at my shoes, and shooting holes in walls. NO.

And that’s about all we’ve wrung so far from the available material. There will, we have little doubt, be more to say in the coming months.

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