It’s a Fairy Tale! NO! It’s a Movie! (Two of Them, Actually)

Two viewer’s responses in one!  Whee!  We went to see two movies this week. Actually, we only went to see one.  The other one came in through the mail about two weeks ago.  Netflix remains a great deal.  Whee!

We went to see Red Riding Hood.  Roger Ebert didn’t care for it.  I think he was overwrought, but he’s usually worth listening to, so I usually listen to him.  But this time?  This time he’s overwrought.  We stayed in to see Pan’s Labyrinth.  Roger Ebert really liked this movie, but… Overwrought might be appropriate here, too.

Red Riding Hood isn’t subtle.  Not, at least in any way that matters–except about who’s the wolf; I should have seen it, but I didn’t.  It looks remarkable good.  Not realistic, you see, but still really good.  It looks rather a lot like a Playmobil set, actually.  Not exactly, but similar in its molded plasticity.

The acting is almost as good at is should be, and gets better when Gary Oldman shows up.  It is strange to see a big metal elephant, but it makes sense in context.  What’s really strange is that the hero’s name is Peter, that he has sticky-upy hair, and carries around a little knife.  This was a distraction, since it didn’t have to be that way, and it didn’t play into the story.  The just threw Peter Pan into “Little Red Riding Hood.”  Why?  Who can say?

But… the parts that weren’t distracting–and there are kind of a lot of them in the first, oh–twenty minutes or so–are well done.  Again, not really subtle.  But worth seeing.  The fairy taleness of it really does redeem the country music elements of the opening sequence.  There is a lot of running around and screaming and stabbing and getting slashed and chomped and all like that.  But there’s plenty of creepy (not so much jump out and go BOO! (some)) and dreamy stuff that you need to give a fairy tale that little bit of skin crawling that makes it worth seeing.  But I said that.

Pan’s Labyrinth is all sorts of subtle.  Where Red Riding Hood retells a fairy tale, and fully inhabits that story, Pan’s Labyrinth is a fairy tale.  Almost.  See, my experience with fairy tales is that they don’t take place in an identifiable location or during an identifiable era.  Franco’s Spain.  So, where Pan’s Labyrinth is using fairy tale elements, it’s more of a metaphor or working-through of something.  So watch out for that.

But, of course, working through things is what fairy tales are good for.  But it’s still too embedded in its time and place.  But leave that aside.  It’s remarkably good looking.  The plot is structured in a terrifically intricate way.  The bits of it interconnect and hook together like the burrs on chestnuts.  The performances are effective.  And, like a good fairy tale, it’s unclear what to take away from it.  There are no easy lessons, since we know the good guys don’t win in Franco’s Spain.

Anyway, no great observations.  Just to tell you know.  See them both, and maybe as a double feature, but don’t let Roger Ebert over influence your expectations.  Let me… whooooo!

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