the Devil’s Backbone (Guillermo del Toro, 2001)

el Espinazo del diablo
SP/MX, 106 min


A new student at a school for orphans attempts to uncover the killer of the ghost who haunts the orphanage during the final days of the Spanish Civil War.


i’ll give it a “really rather good”. not really sure i understand who the target audience is supposed to be, considering the adult themes present, but it’s certainly more satisfying and less derivative than its “spiritural sequel”, which, in spite of del toro’s clear skill with imagery…


Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)

el Laberinto del fauno
MX/SP/USA, 112 min


A lonely young girl concocts a fantasy world in which to escape from her oppressive life in 1940s Spain.


a treatment on fantasy and fairy tales
beautiful enough, great performances, blah blah
but geez, excess hype sure ruins everything.
moreover, i kept having the feeling that i’d seen it before.
and what’s with the R ratings on these movies?
are they intended for nostalgic adults?
i may give it another chance in the distant future;
in the meantime…


Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Jacques Rivette, 1974)

Celine and Julie Go Boating

FR, 193 min

so. so. good. magic.


Like all of Rivette’s characters, Céline and Julie are cinema’s great sleepwalkers—walking through our world, in a world of their own, seeing (quite literally) how the two rhyme and scheme together, how they might scheme back. Is there a plot? It’s the question often facing Rivette characters; the next question is whether they are its audience, subject, or author. In Céline and Julie they are, progressively, all three. When they look in the looking glass , the nod isn’t just to the helpless spectators of Lewis Carroll and Jean Cocteau (like Orpheus, they’ll even find themselves in a car taking them from one world to another)—but to Duck Soup, and to Groucho Marx, ever occupying a different plane of reality than Mrs. Dumont. Surreality: the level right above reality: the level of God and Groucho. With reality entirely at their disposal. – David Phelps