Friday, February 16, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

We made this our Tuesday night feature and it was well worth it. Most of you have probably seen it or heard something about it or seen a preview or two by now. This was another one of those movies that we had been tracking since started mentioning it. Then it opened in Europe and was delayed in the States for what seemed like ages. I had almost given up on seeing it and just put it on netflix.

I am really happy that I didn't. I haven't felt my insides shifted by a movie in a long time. It sounds nuts but I'm sure you know what I mean. There are some moments in movies where you feel your guts get twisted up or you're so engrossed in the movie that bizarre cinematic empath kicks in. There some truly visceral moments in Pan's Labyrinth - not blood and guts and veins in your teeth - but some moments that are hard to watch. Not because of Argento-esque splatterpunk or gore for the sake of gore. In fact Del Toro and his editiors manage brilliantly to cut to another scene or angle just at the moment of impact. This old fashioned "what you don't see is worse than what you do see" sensibility mixed with a few moments of "oh shit" - i.e. the bitten off leg floating to the bottom of the boat pond in Jaws - makes for some gripping watching.I think that I might be putting the cart in front of the horse by starting off this review by talking about how gory or not gory it is. Then again...

Pan's Labyrinth is a fairy tale. It bothers me that many reviews call this an adult fantasy. Many of us read Grimm's Fairy Tales while growing up. If you didn't then you don't know how fucked up those stories are. Cannibalism, infanticide, beheadings, baking with bonemeal, abandonment, white slavery, wicked stepmothers...and people worry about video games making people go apeshit whacko? Pan's Labyrinth has some bizarre, menacing, and really troubling moments in it. There were times I was worried for the main character Ofelia. I don't worry about protagonists in fairy tale and fantasy movies. Fuck, the term fairy tale these days usually has an element of risk akin to eating a new dish at a restaurant you go to weekly. Fantasy is nothing more than shit shovellers saving the day. Now don't think that you should drag a little kid to see this movie - Del Toro doesn't sugar coat a single god damn thing and that's why I love him. Hell I'm worried about having nightmares from a few moments of this movie.

All right, enough, how was the movie? Pretty fucking awesome. Sergi Lopez is an actor I swear I've seen before but in this movie he is a monster. His El Capitan Vidal is truly evil. Sure there's some redeeming nepotism but all in all this guy is someone who would be perfectly happy running a forced labour camp or a death squad. I'm going to look into finding more movies that this guy is in becaue he makes my blood run cold. Ivana Baquero - Ofelia - has a quality to her that I can't quit put my finger on. Not china doll, not fragile, not innocent, not creepy hot Natalie Portman, I really don't know what it is except that she was completely believeable in her role. If someone has some input on this I'd like to hear it.

The cinematography is amazing though some may think that it's overly dark. I'd be interested in adding the score to my collection though no one theme or piece - save El Capitan's 78rpm really sticks out. I recommend this movie to a friend, family member or neighbour. It's been a long time since I've seen something that I get feeling that the director said, "Fuck it. This is the movie I want to make and fuck you if you don't like it."

Man it's nice seeing movies in the theater again.

Late addition: Turns out that Sergi Lopez was in Un Ami Qui Vous Veut du Bien or With a Friend Like Harry or possibly a more accurate translation With a good friend like this. This is a movie I've ranted about before and Sergi Lopez is the bad guy in this too. Man this is a creepy movie. Slow and excellent Sunday watching.

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