A couple things today:
Leaving aside my disappointing view of 300, Pan’s Labyrinth was a lot of fun, although why anyone would think it’s okay to take their children to a rated R “fairy tale” is beyond me. However, there were two scenes that struck me as artificial. (Spoilers ahead) First, when Ofelia (that’s a loaded name) has finished taking the treasure guarded by the Pale Man, but then stops and eats some grapes. A genuinely terrifying scene ensues, but throughout you’re left wondering, what the hell do you think you’re doing, girl? I have read that because she was sent to bed without supper the night before, she may be simply too hungry to resist. But I would think the paintings of the Pale Man eating children adoring the ceiling, as well as the pile of children's shoes in the corner, would be enough to quell any hunger pangs that emerge.
Second, the final test, where Ofelia must sacrifice her own life to save her baby brother. There was nothing in particular that set me off about that scene, except that it was so transparently obvious what was going on, it felt tacked on. A little too easy a test for someone who would be a true believer of the fantasy. Now, as for whether or not Ofelia’s fantasies are real, I would say (and the director has as well) that they are (at least within the context of the movie), chiefly because the director did not set up a larger meaning for Ofelia’s actions, even within the fascist-democratic civil war. If it was not real, the most that could be said for her behavior was 1. it got the manifestly evil military captain to neglect his duties and 2. it was a girl coping with a horrible situation. Neither of these, however, really relates back to the central themes of the movie.
Also, Gloomy Sunday. I enjoyed it, although I might have enjoyed it even more if I knew German. Some clear instances of overacting and melodrama, but a compelling story nevertheless. Definitely worth a shot on Netflix, although perhaps not in the theater (if it’s even available). Also, I got to see both 300 and Pan's Labyrinth in theaters that serve alcohol. I have to say that's a singularly enjoyable experience.
And finally, for those with fond memories of Legos and Mario Bros., an unholy (or cool) union of the two.