Monday, August 27, 2007

Recent Viewings

I have watched two fantastic movies in the last week, Pan's Labyrinth and The Fountain

Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish movie from director Guillermo del Toro. A young girl visits a dark, fantasy kingdom to escape her tumultuous life as the step-daughter of a sadistic army captain battling rebels in 1940's Spain. Make no mistake, this is a fairy tale. It's not the Disney fairy tales we're used to these days, though. It is more akin to the older fairly tales, those that were dark and not always pleasant. And dark it is. There is a lot of graphic violence, but del Toro never makes it feel gratuitous. This is a story of good and evil and the evil is certainly very evil. Ofelia's journey to reclaim her birthright as the princess of a magical kingdom is heart-wrenching especially since del Toro leaves the reality of the kingdom ambiguous. Is Ofelia making it all up in her mind because her life is so disturbing or is it a real place? Bonus points for that, the rich cinematography (fantastic use of color), and for the beautiful, haunting score. Definitely one of the more enchanting movies I have seen in awhile. Highly recommended.

I also very much enjoyed The Fountain, though I can see why it was very divisive to critics and viewers. It is not a movie easily digested. Tom/Tomas/Tommy is a man unwilling to accept death and journeys through time searching for a "cure." Their are three time periods in the story - past, present, and future - and Aronofsky weaves them together in a non-linear fashion. The first half of the movie can be tricky to follow as you only feel like you have a partial grasp on the full extent of events. By the end, though, I was blown away at the power of the story. What begins as the story of a man battling the age-old villain of Death becomes...well, you'll just have to see it for yourself. Hugh Jackman does an incredible job; I feel he is one of the best actors working right now (see also The Prestige) and doesn't get enough recognition for it. Darren Aronofsky is also someone to watch. He has a very unique vision. I think that even if this is not a movie you like, Aronofsky deserves credit for making a movie quite unlike most churned out of Hollywood these days. I wish more movies aimed this high.

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