A Familiar Darkness 

AFI Film Festival is this weekend, hence the busy-ness.

I screened Pan”s Labyrinth last night. I really love and understand the framework for this film. I love that it is a fairytale for adults: A genre close to my heart. The Faun character is so tangible and lovely that while watching I longed to meet him in my own life. There are some perfect parallels setup in the story (plots, reality vs. fantasy theme, characters”), however, not all of said parallels are utilized to the best effect or even utilized at all, in some cases.

Given those positives, I don't like Pan's filmmaking. I don't like the way the score is used. I don't like the pacing, the transitions, the actor direction, the blocking” Some of what I understood to be day-for-night shots look terrible, like they still need to be color corrected. Sure, the thing I am most critical of (script foundation) could use a little improvement but on the whole is decently solid, and the second thing I am critical of (production mentality/ideology) is spot on, but despite this decently solid foundation, the final product isn't great.

Which illustrates how difficult the craft of cinematic storytelling can be.

The reviews online from other festivals (via IMDB) are highly positive, but, in general, the audience last night left as I did: Glad they saw it, but trying to put their finger on why it was lacking.

I realize that my not liking the filmmaking is a much more subjective argument than I usually list, so if you like del Toro”s other work (I have yet to see a film by him that I like, come to think of it) then it”s possible you will find less fault in Pan”s than I did.

Regardless, this is one of those movies where the potential isn”t reached and you find yourself filling in the gaps afterward, making it better.

The thing about knowing a field of work, whatever it may be, is that you see the choices that are missed, the potential missed, whenever something goes astray along the way. It”s sort of like when Neo begins to see the green coding inside of the matrix at the end of Matrix one. So not only do you feel “eh” about something: You know why, and you have ideas on how it could have been improved. As soon as the clock is off a single tick, I see it for its parts instead of as a whole, a clock, and my mind starts digging into the gears with my own little tools to see if I might fix the problem.

That being said, if the clock doesn”t go in the first place, if the parts aren”t there, it”s nearly impossible, and far less interesting, to tool about.

Good idea, good mindset, Pan's foundation is fairly solid” disappointing storytelling. Not a terrible film, especially in comparison to the low bar of this past year, but it”s not good-great either. It falls in the low side of the middle, sadly, when it might have come in at the top, which broke my heart a little while also giving me hope in regards to the doors Pan might open genre wise.

I wish I could have tinkered with the Labyrinth, helped make it better.

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