January 15th, 2007

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Pan's Labyrinth" - Classically Original

R.K.O Radio Pictures has released the Val Lewton classics on DVD with commentary. While most known for literary horror movies starring Boris Karloff with classic titles like "Bedlam" and "The Body Snatcher," Lewton's oddest, yet most personal movie, was "The Curse of the Cat People," an offbeat sequel to his first box office success, "Cat People." "Curse of the Cat People" takes place five years after the events of the first movie and deals with the psychological make up of a lonely little girl. "Pan's Labyrinth" also deals with similar issues, but with a bigger budget and more sophisticated cinematic effects.

This movie from Mexico with English subtitles features Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, a bookish girl well versed in Greek Mythology who will be soon living with her step father, Capitán Vidal (Sergi López). The stepfather is a soldier under Fascist leader Generalissimo Francisco Franco. El Capitán awaits the birth of his son through Ofelia's mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil). The late stages of the pregnancy become problematic for this odd new family.

After observing some cruel behavior by her wicked stepfather, Ofelia retreats into her fantastical imagination. She is visited by bugs that transform into guardian angels who introduce the girl to a friendly faun (Doug Jones). The faun provides Ofelia with three tasks that she must perform to save the world.

Director/Writer Guillermo del Toro brings the audience to a world made familiar with viewing of the "Lord of the Rings," "The Chronicles of Narnia" and the "Harry Potter" movies. "Pan's Labyrinth" presents a different slice of this mythical universe. Del Toro's world is both beautiful and more horrific. Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro owes a dept of gratitude the artwork of Goya, in particular the "Sorcery and Witchcraft," "The Black Paintings" and the "Colossus" paintings. Del Toro manages to make bugs look pretty in this motion picture, yet it is the realty based horrors that horrify the audience, not the nightmarish monsters of a little girl's dream.

As Capitán Vidal, Sergi López is the best villain to come out of the cinematic year of 2006. A former romantic leading man, López uses his pretty boy villainy to perform cruel actions in the name of war. The man lost his soul many years before the events of the "Pan's Labyrinth," however the wicked stepfather still seeks redemption with the birth of his son. Maribel Verdú provides a foil to the wicked commander. A seductive Madonna figure from "Y Tu' Mama Tambien," Verdú is a warrior Madonna who acts as a housemaid to the villain.

As Ofelia, Ivana Baquero invites the audience into her own world of myth and magic. Through her, we believe the fantastical magic that helps transform a cruel world. "Pan's Labyrinth" may suffer from being too good for its own good, it is a truthful film that contains shocks and surprises. "Pan's Labyrinth" is also a rare movie with a subtle Christian message that pays off in the conclusion.

"Pan's Labyrinth" is a definite film to see on the big screen. While adhering to the academic disciplines of world mythology and childhood psychology, Guillermo del Toro managed to create an original and entertaining story that echoes the classical work of Goya, C.S. Lewis and Val Lewton.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and


Fort Lauderdale Intenational Film Festival (FLIFF) presents their second FAB! Films For Kids series Saturday, February 3, 10:00AM at their year-round art house Cinema Paradiso. Admission is free and includes six short films and an opportunity for kids to make their your own commercial or short film which will be videotaped and, following a brief intermission, projected on the big screen.

The FAB Films for Kids Program will run the first Saturday of each month. The series will consist of full-length feature films and short films designed to be educational and fun for the kids! Each month, a related activity will follow the films.

The film program, made possible through a grant from Funding Arts Broward, will be free of charge and include new films geered for ages 3 to 9 and a variety of pre and post show activities such as Make Your Own Commercial, Arts & Crafts, and puppet shows.

For more information please visit www.FLIFF.com or call 954-525-FILM(3456).
Cinema Paradiso is located at 503 SE 6 Street, Fort Lauderdale; just east of the Broward County Courthouse on the South bank of the New River. Parking is free at meters and in the courthouse parking garage.

Below are the films to be presented on February 3 at 10am:

Guatemala & Norway / 6 min / non-verbal
An ordinary day in the life of two brothers earning their living by juggling oranges and doing cartwheels in between cars and heavy exhaust on the streets of Guatemala City.

Germany / 3 min / non-verbal
A locked door and a stubborn person. An everyday drama unfolds. Then the situation escalates.

USA / 8 min / English
Best friends, Katie and Roger live at the Oxford Orphanage. When Katie thinks that Roger is about to be adopted, she sets out to insure her friend will stay with her. Created by The FSU School of Film.

Estonia / 6 min / non-verbal
A snowman with his carrot nose are escaping a hungry rabbit. Somehow, in the midst of the chase they find themselves on-stage. Their ensuing performance leaves the audience with a rich although unexpected experience.

Madagascar / 6 min / non-verbal
What do two young boys in Madagascar do with a free day? Tulch and Noel illustrate you don't need fancy toys or the latest technology to have some fun on a beautiful summer afternoon. Maybe, just a tin can and a little imagination.

Australia / 11 min / English
Strong-Arm Sam ad his promoter Gus are down on their luck. Tired about hearing about how much stronger Crooked Mick of Speewah is, they decide to challenge Mick. The film is based on the traditional Australian myths, told in an heighten way using the latest technology.