Tuesday, January 9th, 2007
Into The Labyrinth
So after having had two attempts in the past week foiled by sell-outs, I was third time’s the charm on Saturday evening and finally got to see Pan’s Labyrinth. Why on earth one of the best reviewed films in recent memory would only be playing on one screen in the whole city is beyond me, but there you go.
The latest film from Guillermo del Toro is a decidedly dark fantasy set in 1944 Spain, during the Spanish Civil War. A young girl and her mother travel to live with her new stepfather, a captain in the Spanish army at battle with insurgents in the countryside. Once there, she discovers that she is the incarnation of a fairy tale princess who must fulfill three tasks to reclaim her immortal birthright. Not based on any specific fairy tale, the film draws on numerous age-old conventions to craft its mythology. Somewhat surprisingly, far less of the film is set in the fantasy world than the real one. You would think that Ofelia, the young heroine, would be using the myths as an escape mechanism from the violence and cruelty that is her reality, but they’re almost as dark and dangerous.
I say “almost” because as menacing as creatures such as the Pale Man are, the greatest cruelties in the film are still those done by man. Ofelia’s stepfather, the Fascist Captain, is as cold and violent as they come though not entirely indiscriminately so (given his position and POV) – a testament to del Toro’s direction and Sergi Lopez’s execution. Ivana Baquero is also impressive as the young girl determined to escape her fate (or claim her destiny, as the case may be).
A fair bit has been made about the violence in the film, and while it’s definitely violent – this is not a film for children, not even close – I don’t really see the “gore” that some have commented on. If anything, the violence is exceedingly dispassionate. To me, gore implies excess or sensationalism and there’s none of that in Pan’s Labyrinth. Even the fantasy scenes are rather subdued, all things considered, though that’s not meant to take away from the imaginativeness and attention to detail that does appear.
I don’t know that Pan’s Labyrinth is the best film of 2006, as all the accolades being heaped upon it might imply, but it is a powerful one if more than a little depressing. But it’s undoubtedly one worth seeing and certainly deserving of more than one screen in all of Toronto.
USA Today has a piece with del Toro explaining the inspirations behind some of the fantastical elements of the film while The Boston Globe and The San Jose Mercury Nes get some insight on the making of the film.
AOL’s new 3×3 feature thingee has launched with live video features on TV On The Radio (watch) and The Hold Steady (watch). TVOTR are at the Kool Haus on March 4 and The Hold Steady are also the subject of an audio interview at NPR.
Bloc Party will tour behind their new record A Weekend in the City, out February 6, will be at the Kool Haus on March 25. Full tour dates at Pitchfork, where they also note that frontman Kele Okereke has apparently come out in this interview with The Guardian.
Not entirely sure what the difference between Elvis Perkins and Elvis Perkins In Dearland is, but the latter is at the Mod Club on April 9 – tickets $12.50, on sale Friday. Inside Bay Area talks to this singer-songwriter who looks set to have a big 2007 with the release of his debut Ash Wednesday on February 20.
And an announcement for a Ted Leo & The Pharmacists show at the Mod Club on May 2 briefly appeared online today, but has since disappeared. Hopefully that’s just crossing t’s and dotting i’s because it’s been far too long since I’ve seen Ted live. His new record Living With The Living is out March 20.
I want a cat. Anyone have any thoughts/opinions/experiences with the various adoption agencies around town? The Humane Society, Toronto Cat Rescue, Abbey Cats, etc?