Monday, 5 April 2010

Pan's Labyrinth

I’m depressed at the best of the times, but I’m usually happy enough not to stick my head in the oven and end it all. That was before I watched cult Spanish film Pan’s Labyrinth. Now I’m waiting for the oven to heat up.

This film was advertised as a scary film where a kid gets taken to a fantasy world and meets tons of weird and crazy creatures. Sure, that does happen (sorta) but it takes up a surprisingly small amount of the film. The rest of the film is based firmly in the real world, and the real world is tough as shit.

It’s post civil war Spain, circa 1944, and little protagonist Ofelia is being taken with her pregnant mother to an army outpost where a small army are fighting against a group of rebels which live in the surrounding forests (and where the father of the unborn baby, the sadistic bastard Captain Vidal, lives). Once there, Ofelia meets a faun in a labyrinth who tells her that she must perform three tasks in order to become queen of a far-off fantasy world.

That’s as much as the promos tells you. What it doesn’t tell you is that, as Ofelia goes on her magic quest, people are being tortured and murdered around her and her mother is slowly dying throughout the film when her pregnancy goes wrong. Add to the fact that all the fantasy elements are heavily implied to all be in Ofelia’s head and that the film has one of the biggest downer headings I’ve ever watched, I was slashing my wrists and listening to My Chemical Romance before it was down.

It’s a very powerful film. It cleverly and intelligently explores several themes about stories and fables, as well as the classic idea of reality vs. fiction. It’s a great film with brilliant special effects and is well worth watching. Just don’t enter the film thinking that it’d be a magical fantasy romp like I did, because it’s not. Oh god is it not.

Hey, my ovens ready. See ya.

Bonus Review!

When I wasn’t slashing my wrists and crying, I found time to watch “The Eleventh Hour”, the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who and Matt “11th Doctor” Smith’s premier episode. Basically, it was brilliant. Matt is great as the Doctor, managing to be likable even when breaking into the house of the 7-year old, making her cook breakfast for him and then spitting it out when he doesn’t like that she’s done for him.

The script is fast-paced, lively and hilarious and the entire thing was very enjoyable. Bring on the next 12 weeks!

Friday, 2 April 2010


Imagine being gang-mind raped by a chicken and a laughing pencil. Distil it into film form, get rid the resulting trips to the psychologist afterwards and you’ve got pretty much what watching Eraserhead is like.

Sorta. Watching Eraserhead isn’t quite like that, but then I have no other description for what watching Eraserhead is like. It seemingly goes out of its way to be completely indescribable and revels in being un-understandable. Maybe it’s a representation of the fears of parenthood taken to the extreme, but then how do the dream sequences fit in? Maybe it’s trying to convince the audience that there’s a meaning behind the picture when really there isn’t. Maybe David Lynch finally went completely insane and filmed the whole movie from inside a padded cell. Maybe the entire movie is just a figment of my imagination. Maybe YOU are a figment of my imagination. How do you feel now, huh?

The basic plot is that there isn’t one. Henry Spencer knocks up a girl who he’s then forced to marry. The baby is born as a cross between the alien from Alien and a sausage, wrapped up in bandages. The world is full of umbilical cords/sperm, there’s a woman with puffy cheeks singing in radiators, chickens are tiny and the soundtrack never becomes more than a series of sounds that resemble a recording of an attacking kitten played backwards. That’s about as much as I can figure out.

Still, this is an utterly brilliant movie and you should watch it. The surreal visuals, slow pace and odd music give the movie a genuinely unnerving atmosphere and it is essential viewing for anyone who’s bored with normal films and wants something more interesting to watch. And the ending is qui

Written and directed by David Lynch
Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Laurel Near and whatever the hell was used to make the baby puppet.
Watch it now. Good night, and don’t have nightmares.