Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth directed by Guillermo del Toro

So here's Guillermo del Toro, Mexican maestro of the fantasy film, a big fat man with a mess of hair, a ready chuckle and a large leather book held tight across the rolls of his stomach like a Crusader's shield. It would be a hard-hearted hack who could resist that plump, friendly face. If del Toro were to turn into his namesake he would surely be Ferdinand, the bull who sat down in the middle of the ring, chewed the flowers and smiled at the sky instead of fighting.

Yet this jolly man is the author of Pan's Labyrinth, a visual feast of a fantasy film set in Franco's Spain that is so dark, so fired with passion, fear and hope, that it blasted almost everything else at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was first shown, into the blue Mediterranean water. Critics who were not expecting anything quite so viscerally satisfying from the director of Blade II, Hellboy or Mimic, the films he made for US studios, described it as the surprise triumph of the festival; in the past few weeks, Pan's Labyrinth has appeared on various top-10 lists and has been nominated for a Golden Globe for the best film in a foreign language. Mark Kermode, of the London Observer, did not hesitate to declare it the best film of the year.
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