Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pan for Gold

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2007 at 1:13 PM

click to enlarge pan.jpg

Now that a thread is starting to develop about Pan's Labyrinth at the tail end of an older post here, I thought I'd bring it up front. It's been years since I've heard people respond this strongly to a movie, or at least this kind of movie. Even people who hated the Lord of the Rings cycle—like my friend Grace Walker Monk, who recently reiterated her desire to kneecap Peter Jackson—have left the Belcourt in tears.

There's an item in this week's Scene about the movie's success at the Belcourt, where last weekend Pan outperformed almost every other theater showing it in the entire market (except for two in Atlanta). It also set a box-office record at the theater that reportedly hadn't been broken in more than 30 years. Not only that, but it has been drawing large crowds for Spirit of the Beehive next door on the basis of Guillermo del Toro's recommendation in last week's Scene. Here's the short review from this week's Scene, not available elsewhere online:

"This beautiful grim fantasy, written and directed by the extravagantly talented Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2, Hellboy), is less a fairy tale for adults than a recognition of the grown-up uses of enchantment that peek through the moonlight and cobwebs of every cautionary folktale for kids. The worldly evils and dire consequences were always there, in coded form—the wolf that eats grandmas and little girls, the witch who stuffs children in the oven—but del Toro makes them terrifyingly vivid, with results that can't be erased. In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, little Ofelia (preternaturally alert Ivana Baquero) goes with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) to live with her stepfather, a fascist captain (Sergi Lopez, the scariest villain in recent movies) who demands a son. As the frail mother withers upstairs, and the new parent exerts bloody force over the local peasantry, the girl ventures into a fantasy world beyond the garden—a maze where a sinister faun (Doug Jones) sets her three increasingly dangerous tasks. Meanwhile, resistance fighters maintain their contact with a spy inside the household, the brave housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verdu), even as the captain seeks to catch and torture the informer. Del Toro doesn't make one-to-one parallels between the fairytale world and the situation inside and surrounding the house, although there are talismanic motifs and shared figures: keys, potions, a monster with his eyes on the mother's unborn baby. His movie is more about myth as a kind of resistance movement of the imagination—it can't help but be warped by the forces outside, and yet somehow it perseveres. Filled with fabulous creatures and stunning setpieces—and some very graphic violence—this is the movie del Toro's fans always knew he had in him, and the official launch of a brilliant career."

Who else has seen the movie, and what did you think?

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