DIrty Dozen – January Mission – Pan’s Labyrinth (1996)

Pan's Labyrinth

       I’m not afraid of movies with dark endings. Sean Penn’s The Pledge (2001) was a great movie with a fantastic performance by Jack Nicholson as a retired cop who’d go to extremely questionable lengths to find a child killer. Frank Darabont’s The Mist (2007) had an ending so dark that Stephen King wished he’d thought of it. Anyone with knowledge of literature knows that the old fairy tales we heard as kids were somewhat sanitized from their far darker origins. Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo Del Toro’s contribution to the world of fairy tales, and it’s dark.

Actually, let me rephrase that. Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo Del Toro’s contribution to the world of fairy tales, and it’s DARK.

Set in Francisco Franco’s fascist Spain, Pan’s Labyrinth is the story of Ofelia, a young girl who is forced to move with her pregnant mother to a military outpost to live with her stepfather, a vicious military officer. During their stay, she becomes fascinated by an old stone maze nearby, and eventually finds herself in a fantasy world. She’s greeted by several bizarre creatures as a long lost princess returned to her kingdom. To prove it, she’s required to perform several terrifying tasks. For those who haven’t seen it, I’m not going to add any more details, other than to remind you that this film is DARK.

I’ve never been a fan of fantasy films, though I can appreciate them. But if I’m going to enjoy a dark fantasy film, then there has to be some sort of lightness along the way. Pan’s Labyrinth has none. It starts dark, and it stays dark throughout. I can’t appreciate the darkness of the film is there’s no light to give it an emotional impact. For example, the similarly themed Blancanieves (2012) is a much more enjoyable fairy tale. Like Pan’s Labyrinth, it’s dark, but there are moments of light which make the ending more poignant. Pan’s Labyrinth’s ending is sad, but so is the rest of the film. There are no ups; there are no downs. There’s just one tone throughout: unending dreariness. I enjoy a lot of Del Toro’s films. This one, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.

My Cinema Shame – This penitent man shall pass.

Howdy, everyone.

I’m sorry I have not been actively relating my movie watching experiences at all. It’s often hard for me to find the words I want to say, and I’m my own worst critic when it comes to writing. So, for the most part, I try to take the easy road.

But that’s not what a penitent person does, is it? One can’t really feel penitent if one doesn’t suffer first. Hence my little essay here today.

A funny thing happened to me. This month, I scheduled myself to do Jerry Lewis’ The Nutty Professor, only to find that Jerry Lewis movies are non-existent, even in used DVD stores. So I was all set to switch it up with next month’s Glengarry Glen Ross, hoping to find a Jerry Lewis film somewhere for next month. Then, I find out that this month, they’re releasing a 50th anniversary set for Nutty Professor.

I don’t know about you, but I’m taking that as a sign from the Gods of Cinema to change my ways. So I will get myself up to speed in the next little while, and I will share my experiences with you all.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon with my essays.

My Dirty Dozen by @gregmccambley

I am a movie junkie. I will watch just about any kind of film at the drop of a hat.  And yet, there are some movies that I have not seen, for various reasons. It’s hard to describe exactly why I’ve not seen them, though. Some are because of perceived personal taste, while others are because of lack of enthusiasm. So, thanks to Cinema Shame, I now have a chance to see if my reasons were valid.  So, over the next 12 months, the movies I want to watch are:

January – Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

February – Raging Bull (1980)

March – Taxi Driver (1976)

April – Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

May – Mary Poppins (1964)

June – The Nutty Professor (1963)

July – Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

August – The Wizard of Oz (1939)

September – Fight Club (1999)

October – Se7en (1995)

November – Mean Streets (1973)

December – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

This list is, I hope, just the start. I want to make it my movie watching mission this year to start watching movies starring people other than the usual suspects.   I want to thank my online network of movie watching buddies for really engaging my love of film.

If I have more titles (and I’m sure I will), I will definitely add to this list.

It’s gonna be a fun year.

Addendum: I might add to this list as the year goes on, so I figured why not go ahead and start now? Given that I’m gonna explore early Scorsese this year, I came across After Hours (1985) for cheap, so I’m adding it to the total. I don’t know when I’ll watch it, but I will.