And I finally saw Pan's Labyrinth last week.
And I reacted to it essentially as I reacted to Children of Men, which is to say that I liked it, found a few sequences to be brilliant, but could not understand, in the end, what all the fuss was about, really.
Children of Men had an amazing sense of itself visually. And it was wonderful to see something that understood, for the most part, the power of a single image. But the writing? Awful. I loved the fast car chase, the slow car chase, the broken David, the Pink Floyd pig, the long, long tracking shot in the climactic sequence, the distance that we're forced to keep from the death of Michael Caine's character, and the terrifying madness of the refugee camp, but the dialogue killed me at almost every turn.
Plus, someone seriously needed to scale back the Jesus imagery.
In any case, Pan's Labyrinth has, like Children of Men, a couple of amazing components (the close miking of everything, the eyeball guy, the ambiguity of the treatment of the resistence, the performance of the lead), but lost me with its insistence that El Capitan be completely and worthlessly evil, and, in a mind-boggling reversal of so much that the film seems to espouse in the conclusion when our hero finds paradise to be, in essence, a monarchy.
That's the opposite of fascism? Rule by a king and queen?
Sure, in fairy tales, the kings and queens (when not wicked) tend to take the interests, the hopes, the dreams of their subjects to heart -- but, those subjects, those people, those individuals, are still subjects.