Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mexican Boy Done Good

I’m really digging the film work of Guillermo Del Toro lately. He works in the dark fantasy and horror sort of area, doing Spanish-language films and then bouncing over to English films for Hollywood. Even in low(er) budget films he manages to provide intricate, believable visuals and work his settings and situations into incredibly atmospheric and forbidding viewing.

Most people in this country are probably most familiar with the two Hellboy films, which were so much better than 90% of movies based on comic book properties. But NetFlix has some of the other stuff; the early Cronos, and his two period dark fantasies set in Franco’s Spain, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro has described himself as fascinated by clockwork and insects. You can see this fascination all through his films, where even a creature as innocuous as a faun becomes horribly fascinating and frightening. Even though he's from Mexico, I get more of an Old World vibe from his stuff. Peeling paintings and corroded brass more than adobe and red brick, if that makes sense.

I’m still working away at catching everything he’s done. There’s a new film in the near future, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. The previews make it look like every other haunted house movie with a child as the central victim/avatar. But it ALSO looks like it could mine the same veins as Pan’s Labyrinth or The Orphanage, and that would cut the film well above the typical bullshit.

Del Toro was going to be the director on the two Hobbit films, but that fell through. Nothing against Peter Jackson, but holy hell! I would’ve loved to see an earlier Middle Earth through Del Toro’s eyes.

In other Spanish-language news I’ve also been catching up on the much more limited back catalog of Pedro Almodovar, but I’m not sure I can even comment on that weirdness.

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