Posts Tagged ‘Guillermo del Toro’

Mother

March 31, 2010

That's some strong medicine.

Joon-ho Bong, the Korean writer and director, likes to write about inadequate people finding themselves in situations they aren’t exactly clever enough to figure out, which makes the journey for the audience that much more enjoyable and that much more tragic in the end, because we might be able to see a way out they cannot.

In his film Memories of Murder, we follow a group of incompetent back water Detectives as they try to find a rapist-serial killer before the next victim is taken down. In The Host a family of dunces bands together to save the youngest daughter from a bio-chemically created monster. In both instances (both great movies, by the way) Joon-ho tells his stories with a healthy dose of biting satire, ever growing dread and a cinematic eye rarely found in America. With his newest thriller Mother, Joon-ho continues his steady climb as one of the best International directors by following the same guidlines.

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“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

July 22, 2008
Hey, we could really use Harry Hamlin right about now!

Hey, we could really use Harry Hamlin right about now!

There’s a sadness at the center of Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. A sadness that lends a poignancy to the humor and action that was sorely missing in the first Hellboy film, which after being a huge fan of Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone and Blade II, I was very much looking forward to, and never really ended up liking. Hellboy II lives up to that promise.

Del Toro, like fellow comic book director Christopher Nolan, is a master of plotting and pacing. So even when Hellboy II makes some jumps in story logistics you’re carried along without feeling the bump in the road. It begins as Pan’s Labyrinth did, with a bedtime story about an evil army of Golden soldiers, so from there you know it gives itself permission to go anywhere.

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“The Orphanage”: Frightening. Truly.

January 2, 2008

The Orphanage

This is the second year in a row I’ve broken the New Year in with a Guillermo del Toro produced film, I’d like to make it a tradition. The Orphanage (or El Orfanato) is probably the most frightening horror film I’ve seen this year and more frightening than anything I saw last year. It’s a ghost story, one that follows in the footsteps of some of the best; Poltergeist, The Innocents, The Haunting, The Shining, The Sixth Sense, The Devil’s Backbone and most recently The Others. Only it’s better than The Others and not as good as some of the others. It’s about a woman, Laura, who goes back to the orphanage she grew up in to start a home for the mentally disabled, only to find that there are children already living there. Cree-ee-py! But it’s not Laura, it’s her son, Simone, that sees what’s happening around them first. See, he has harmless invisible friends. So Laura and her husband think nothing of it when he meets a couple more. Simone has also been adopted and suffers from a disease that’s only hinted at in the beginning, but turns out to be surprising – something I wish the film had dealt a little more directly with as a theme, but the movie isn’t ambitious in that sense. In the end it could have been any life threatening disease or illness.

In every good ghost story there’s a reason for ghosts to exist. There’s a reason why certain people can see them. There’s always some theory about traces being left behind because of a murder or suicide. It’s the mystery, the unknown. A filmmakers way of doping it up for the audience. Something that’s become common because of the rise in Japanese horror films like The Ring – here it’s far more clever than most films. Is the ghost good or bad? What’s its motivation? What do we see and what’s implied? Is it really evil? The Director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G Sanchez, know when to hold their cards. They tease and poke and prod the audience and they do it well. The pacing swings like a pendulum, back and forth, every now and then the blade dropping suddenly closer to your gut. And you feel it as Laura becomes more encapsulated in this dark world. And it’s not only that you see it, you hear it. The camera moves along the halls like it did in The House on Haunted Hill. The sounds rattle and rumble from within. There’s a whole sequence in which we see nothing, but hear everything. How much is in their world and how much is in ours we wonder? It’s a question that has ramifications.

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