Monday, November 5, 2007

Film Binge Continues

"The Queen," "Knocked Up," "Pan's Labyrinth:"

"The Queen": Having lived through the Princess Diana years and shared most people's fascination with her, this film about Queen Elizabeth's handling of Diana's death held great promise--and delivered on some of it. The raves about Helen Mirren's portrayal of Her Majesty are not undeserved, though it appears mostly to be a strongly studied imitation of a real, living person. The film drags occasionally in its attempt to recapture those days in great detail, though the actual footage has been merged seamlessly in Stephen Frears' imagined account.

"Knocked Up": I'm generally skeptical of films like these that tend to pander to a 20-something male audience, and in fact it does deliver the expected coarseness and crude behavior that makes stunted adolescent guys gleeful. That being said, it's a far more sensitive and acutely observed comedy than I had anticipated, with a sweetness that's sincerely played. Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl share a believable chemistry as somewhat mis-matched lovers whose drunken one-night stand has resulted in an unplanned pregnancy they both opt to work together to raise.

"Pan's Labyrinth": After months of goading by brother Bob to see this, we finally watched it. This is a film of substance and artistry that often surprises and shocks. A young girl with an active imagination who immerses herself in fairy tales finds herself in dangerous circumstances when her widowed and pregnant mother moves them to a remote village to live with the unborn infant's father--captain of a regimental outpost at the tail end of the Spanish Civil War in 1944. He is a brute whose mission is to eradicate the smattering of rebels who still occupy the nearby hills and forests, and that plotline runs parallel to one concocted purely in the mind of the little girl--in which she is a lost princess from an underworld kingdom who must perform three difficult tasks to prove she's worthy of returning to immortality. That director Guillermo del Toro was able to make these two startlingly different worlds coexist within this film while also carefully constructing the fantasy world to be symbolic of the real is a remarkable feat. It's a fascinating tale. (Note that there are moments of violence so graphic one must turn away.) P.S. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles, and the real title of the film is "The Faun's Labyrinth," and no "Pan" character exists in the film!

Until next time...


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