Pan's Labyrinth & Inland Empire

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth, winner of three Academy Awards, is equal parts freaky and depressing, but one of the most original and well made films I've seen. In short form, its about a young girl escaping the horrors of the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War through her imagination. The details of how that unfolds are quite bizarre though.

The girl, Ofelia, is traveling with her pregnant mother to their new home. They're taking up with her mother's new husband, a brutal Captain in Franco's army who has set up shop at a remote mill to battle the hold-out communist rebels in the woods. The Captain doesn't really care for Ofelia and her mother is so shell shocked and crippled by a difficult pregnancy that she isn't much help. Ofelia's only outlet is her imagination that starts to run away with her.

The things she conjures up to escape the horrors of the situation are pretty horrifying on their own. A bug/fairy leads her into the ancient labyrinth near the mill where a faun that looks like Satan tells her she is an immortal princess, but must complete three tasks to prove she has not become too mortal.

The tasks are dangerous and involve grizzly things like this bloke here who keeps his eyes on the table in front of him until he puts them into the sockets on his hands. Oh yeah, he also eats babies and fairies too.

The fact that she willingly escapes into this perverse world is a testament to how screwed up the reality of her life now is. Her new step father is literally a fascist who murders and tortures people without mercy. With her distant and ill mother, her only real companionship is a servant in the mill who is helping the rebels.

I keep seeing parents asking if this is appropriate for children. No, its barely appropriate for adults. Just because it has a fantasy aspect does not make it a kids movie. Seriously, take a minute and note how evil that faun looks. If your child is traumatized by this film, do not blame the film. Blame yourself.

Pan's Labyrinth is directed by Guillermo Del Toro who previously directed such Oscar caliber work as Hellboy, Blade II, and Mimic. Who knew he had a masterpiece like this in him?

Rating: 5 Satanic Fauns Out of 5

Inland Empire

Unsatisfied that someone, somewhere, might have possibly understood what was going on in Mulholland Drive (other than lesbian sex), David Lynch has made Inland Empire. As you can see from the poster, its about a woman in trouble - beyond that you're on your own.

The official line seems to be that its about an actress (Laura Dern) who gets a role in a film that turns out to be a remake of one that was never finished because the lead actors were murdered. True enough, there is some of that here, but that only accounts for about 45 minutes of the 179 minute film. After going insane on the stage one day, the movie shifts into two alternate universes where she is either a bored housewife or a whore in Hollywood.

Not weird enough for you? Well, there are also these scenes that pop up from time to time with these people in rabbit suits. They aren't doing anything though. One is ironing in the background while two more sit on the sofa. Large swaths of the movie are in Polish and there is a song and dance number involving hookers while Laura Dern looks on in horror. Even the name is nonsense since it has nothing to do with the Inland Empire. It is in fact only mentioned once in one of the Polish scenes and never explained (go figure).

Watching Inland Empire is like being inside the mind of a crazy person, which you probably are since I'm convinced David Lynch is certifiably insane. Whether his movies have a point anymore or not, no one can deny he is a fine filmmaker. I can't think of anyone else who can actually capture the feel of a dream on film. When he wants to, he can use the camera and sound to make you question whether or not what you're watching is real or if you yourself have dozed off and entered another world.

It makes no sense and doesn't have a plot so much as an idea that seemingly unrelated scenes are built around, but its worth your time if you're a Lynch fan.

Rating 4.5 People in Rabbit Suits Out of 5

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