Pan’s Labyrinth

Posted in movies, reviews at 8:29 pm by danvk


(no spoilers, I promise!)

I thoroughly enjoyed Pan’s Labyrinth this weekend. It’s set in Spain in 1944, at an outpost where a few rebels are holding out against Franco’s regime. The stories of the Rebel’s fight and the fantastical world of Ofelia’s imagination run in parallel throughout the movie.

The rebel story is brutally violent. The last time I remember covering my eyes at a movie was American History X, many years ago. Pan’s Labyrinth made me do it at least three times. The violence wasn’t gratuitous, though. We all became completely desensitized to guns and seeing people being shot long ago. This violence will still make you feel something.

Ofelia’s story is the one that makes this film particularly fascinating. It’s not violent so much as occasionally gross and cringe-inducing. In the innocence vs. experience contrast that the film sets up, she’s clearly the innocent one. But she’s exceptionally brave and loyal in her own peculiar ways, just like the rebels.

I will say no more plot-wise to avoid spoiling, but a few observations:

  • The sound was just phenomenal. The Captain’s gloves and the Fairies’ wings are recurring themes.
  • The wiki page points to Borges as an influence. I picked up the Narnia parallels, but I have to admit, I totally missed this one. It’s there, though — the “Labyrinth” is right there in the title. It makes me wonder if there are other, more subtle Borges influences I also missed.
  • The Labyrinth was very cool. It reminded me of some of the ancient art I saw in Ireland. There were about 30,000 years between the advent of art and the dawn of recorded history. That’s a huge expanse of time, and god only knows what stories are hidden in there.


Movies to see, movies to not see

Posted in movies at 5:03 pm by danvk

200px-fogofwar.jpgGoogle took everyone to see Spider-Man 3 on Friday. This one fits under “movies to not see.” My favorite moment was “Spidey” swinging across a nicely-backlit American flag rippling in the wind. Seriously, what were they thinking? Close seconds for favorite moments: every time a character opened his/her mouth. Ugh.

To get the bad taste out, I watched Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, an Academy Award-winning documentary about Robert McNamara. This is definitely a movie to see. McNamara narrates the story of his life and offers some lessons he’s learned along the way. His discussion of the Vietnam War is especially fascinating in light of current events. McNamara gave me the impression that most people in the White House had realized by 1967 or so that Vietnam was a lost cause, but that it was politically impossible to withdraw. Fewer than half the total U.S. casualties had occurred by 1967. Let’s hope we’re not still in Iraq in 2010.

Then there’s The Room, by this stud. Let’s just say that Rocky Horror is so eighties. Wikipedia’s summary is pretty good: ‘After a brief run in Los Angeles, the film went on to develop a cult following in the city, because of its perceived unintentional humor. It continues to have monthly midnight screenings. Wiseau promotes the film as a black comedy and insists that the “unintentional” humor is intentional. Most people who have seen the film doubt this claim.’ Here’s two choice clips from the film. This review is also excellent.

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