#230- Pan’s Labyrinth

Thank you to Sam for recommending this movie! I know you could’ve chosen LOTR but I appreciate the restraint ūüôā¬†

Quick recap: A young girl growing up during the Francoist Period in Spain enters a fantasy world to escape her frightening real life situation.

Pans-Labyrinth

jazz hands!

Fun (?) fact:¬†In literally every other country except America,this movie is known as ‘The Labyrinth of the Faun’, which makes way more sense.

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All glory to the Hypnotoad

My thoughts: Boy, was this a dark movie. I remember the depressing ending from when I watched it a few years ago but I was still a little taken aback by its bleakness. Then again, this is directed by Guillermo del Toro so no one should go into this expecting rainbows and sunshine. Or go ahead and believe that. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.

It’s hard to describe why I loved Pan’s Labyrinth so much because I lack all those fancy words that real film reviewers use, but I’ll try my best. To me, the world that del Toro created in the movie felt real. It went beyond creating a creepy set and cast of characters and it moved into something that truly had life. At first I was like, ‘Can’t Ofelia at least catch a break in her OWN MADE UP WORLD?’ but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. This girl has seen stuff and like many kids, uses her imagination to try and make her situation better. But even then, you can’t ever really escape and so her fantasy world is completely intertwined with her real world. Which makes this movie ten times more depressing, honestly.

While looking up trivia for the film I came across several theories about the meaning or theme of the movie. Of course there is the religious element, which I usually shoot down because people think they see Jesus everywhere (mostly in toast). And there is the theme of good vs. evil, which a) seems too simple for a movie like this and b) once again, this theme is in everything. I didn’t bother to read too much into what I watched and instead just enjoyed the story. I trust that del Toro put in a bunch of symbols but I like that Pan’s Labyrinth can also be taken at face value as a (very depressing) fairy tale.

Also- war is hell, man.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: There’s Something About Mary

#201- Sideways

Quick recap: Two guys (friends?) go on the most depressing wine tour ever.

Don't be fooled. Everyone is miserable or will be miserable soon.

Don’t be fooled. Everyone is miserable or will be miserable soon.

Fun (?) fact: Most of the wine everyone drank in the movie was non-alcoholic. It tasted so bad and made everyone so sick that they had to drink the real stuff once in awhile to ‘cleanse their palate’.

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My thoughts:¬†Wine is one of those things I wish I was a fan of, but have never been able to enjoy. I tried some back in college because I wanted to feel sophisticated but ended up using so much Fresca that it defeated the point. As an adult I think I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will most likely never enjoy wine and that’s ok. Still, there’s a part of me that becomes jealous when I see that a friend is touring Napa Valley or the wine region in Texas (That’s a thing. Didn’t know that until earlier this year). I envy people who get to do sophisticated things¬†such as wine tasting, although spitting into a bucket is still a little weird. Do you know who I don’t envy? Miles and Jack from this movie.

Immediately after finishing Sideways, my first thought was, ‘ Gee, that was stupid’. My second thought was, ‘I wonder where I could watch Wings. That show was comedy gold!’. But eventually, my thoughts drifted back to the movie. The whole point (I think) had more to do with Miles’ character than anything else. He’s an unsuccessful writer depressed about his recent divorce. He and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) make for an unlikely pair, and I don’t mean that in a Felix and Oscar goofy sort of way. They seriously don’t fit together, and I think that’s what bothered me most about the film. I came into the movie thinking this was a sophisticated version of a bro comedy and instead I get a duo that seem entirely wrong for each other. If there is a bro to be found, it’s Jack who spends the week before getting married sleeping with whomever he feels like. He’s a slimeball, yes, but surely Miles already knew this? Why make himself miserable?

And so it is that question and (maybe) answer that made me appreciate and dare I say enjoy? (nope. I’ll stick with appreciate) Sideways. So as far as I can tell, Miles chooses to be miserable. He heads to his favorite place on earth with his idiot buddy, all the while knowing that Jack couldn’t care less about wine. He set himself up for failure and then got to mope around as a result. It isn’t until the end of the movie, as Miles sees that not only has his ex wife remarried but that she is also pregnant, that he has a moment of truth. I loved the scene of him in the fast food restaurant drinking his most expensive bottle of wine because that was his way of moving on. It was oddly beautiful. And the final scene with Miles knocking on Maya’s door essentially showed¬†that he was free and maybe it was Jack all along who was really trapped. Mind blown.

Oh, Lowell, you've still got it.

Oh, Lowell, you’ve still got it.

Final review: 4/5. I was sitting at 2 but after spending a few days in thought, I decided to bump it up.

Up next: The Leopard , which I suspect is not actually about leopards. A girl can dream, though.

#187- Requiem for a Dream

Quick recap: Hey, kids: Don’t do drugs!

If your favorite cartoon stars from the '80s didn't convince you, maybe Jared Leto's dreamy eyes will

If your favorite cartoon stars from the ’80s didn’t convince you, maybe Jared Leto’s dreamy eyes will

Fun (?) fact: Most movies contain around 600-700 cuts, but Requiem for a Dream has over 2,000

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My thoughts:¬†I have definitely seen Requiem for a Dream before, probably while I was in college. I remember thinking it looked cool and I remember the arm scene, but that’s about it. This time around, it was nearly impossible to look away.

More than anything else, this film is a testament to great editing. Having never done drugs myself, I can’t speak for the authenticity, but watching the characters descend into their various addictions sure felt real. Sara Goldfarb, played by Ellen Burstyn’s story was especially difficult to watch. All of the actors did an exceptional job, but her character was the one that resonated with me most because it was just so sad. All of the other characters (somewhat) knew what they were getting into, but she was just desperate to reclaim some of her youth. The manic scenes, especially the ones when she hallucinated that she was on tv were so realistic, in terms of her downward spiral. The ending with the electroshock therapy was a little ridiculous, but still captivated me.

The story itself, looking back, was a little heavy handed. I mean, it’s a movie so you expect over the top things to happen, but everyone’s ultimate destination seemed more like a morality tale about how drugs are bad for you, m’kay? than anything else and it was difficult to see other points being made. I get that everyone was chasing some sort of dream and the drugs kept them from reaching success, but all I could think about was my DARE class in 5th grade and how showing this movie would’ve had a far deeper impact than those stupid worksheets we had to do. I know 10 different ways to say no when someone offers me heroin, but if an officer had just shown the class a picture of Harry’s arm, he would’ve saved us all a ton of trouble later on down the line.

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Final review: 4/5. Stylistically,a near perfect film. Plot-wise, eh.

Up next: White Heat

#166- Downfall

Quick recap:¬†An account of Hitler’s last days, told from the perspective of his secretary¬†Traudl Junge

This is where that 'angry Hitler' parody comes from

This is where that ‘angry Hitler’ parody comes from

Fun (?) fact:¬†from IMDb: ‘During the war, the majority of the cyanide capsules produced were made in the concentration camps, which made sabotage a real problem. This is one of the reasons why many Germans who committed suicide by cyanide also shot themselves to make sure they would die. This is also the reason why Adolf Hitler‘s beloved dog Blondi was poisoned; he wanted to make sure his batch of cyanide was not fake.’

My thoughts: I know I say it often, but seriously you guys, THIS is the most depressing movie ever. If nothing else, the last 1/2 of the movie is just people killing themselves as well as¬†children and dogs. And it’s all real, which adds another layer of tragedy.

At 166 on the list, Downfall is the most uncomfortable movie I have ever sat through. It started off a little boring, with people calling Hitler crazy (as they were wont to do) because he decided to stay in Berlin, which was close to being occupied by the Russians. World War II history just doesn’t do much for me, I think, because it has been talked about and researched so thoroughly that I feel I know all that I need to know. But at some point, I can’t really pinpoint when, this movie got to me. I think it was one of the scenes with Hitler and Eva Braun or with¬†Traudl Junge, where he seemed almost…..charming. And then with the rest of the SS officers, many of them were seen as almost human, although they were known to have committed some of the worst atrocities in history. I felt intensely guilty having any emotion whatsoever, considering the 6 million Jews that were tortured and killed. But at the same time, it made sense. We would like to paint Hitler and his officers as completely evil because it makes it easier to separate right from wrong, black from white. Reality is much more complicated, unfortunately. Dr. Goebbels and his wife seemed like decently normal people who had a beautiful family, but then they went¬†and poisoned all 6 of the children simply because they didn’t want them to live in a world where the Nazi regime was no longer in power. Eva Braun brought out the softer side of Hitler, if there was one, even though she was just as crazy as he was.

Throughout most of the movie, I felt like I was watching a documentary instead of a bunch of actors recreating scenes. When I was looking up pictures to add to this post (none seemed appropriate), it impressed me how realistic the bunker was compared to the real thing. The casting was also spot on, almost terrifyingly accurate. This made the scenes like the children being poisoned and Hitler and Eva committing suicide all the more difficult to watch.

Most people reach for Schindler’s List when trying to understand all the evil that happened in World War II, but I think Downfall is a necessary companion to show another perspective. My opinion, as well as most of the world’s, will never change about the Nazis or Hitler, but the things I have believed up to this point are no longer as accurate or as simple as they were before.

Final review: 5/5.

Up next: The Jazz Singer