Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Into The Labyrinth

So after having had two attempts in the past week foiled by sell-outs, I was third time’s the charm on Saturday evening and finally got to see Pan’s Labyrinth. Why on earth one of the best reviewed films in recent memory would only be playing on one screen in the whole city is beyond me, but there you go.

The latest film from Guillermo del Toro is a decidedly dark fantasy set in 1944 Spain, during the Spanish Civil War. A young girl and her mother travel to live with her new stepfather, a captain in the Spanish army at battle with insurgents in the countryside. Once there, she discovers that she is the incarnation of a fairy tale princess who must fulfill three tasks to reclaim her immortal birthright. Not based on any specific fairy tale, the film draws on numerous age-old conventions to craft its mythology. Somewhat surprisingly, far less of the film is set in the fantasy world than the real one. You would think that Ofelia, the young heroine, would be using the myths as an escape mechanism from the violence and cruelty that is her reality, but they’re almost as dark and dangerous.

I say “almost” because as menacing as creatures such as the Pale Man are, the greatest cruelties in the film are still those done by man. Ofelia’s stepfather, the Fascist Captain, is as cold and violent as they come though not entirely indiscriminately so (given his position and POV) – a testament to del Toro’s direction and Sergi Lopez’s execution. Ivana Baquero is also impressive as the young girl determined to escape her fate (or claim her destiny, as the case may be).

A fair bit has been made about the violence in the film, and while it’s definitely violent – this is not a film for children, not even close – I don’t really see the “gore” that some have commented on. If anything, the violence is exceedingly dispassionate. To me, gore implies excess or sensationalism and there’s none of that in Pan’s Labyrinth. Even the fantasy scenes are rather subdued, all things considered, though that’s not meant to take away from the imaginativeness and attention to detail that does appear.

I don’t know that Pan’s Labyrinth is the best film of 2006, as all the accolades being heaped upon it might imply, but it is a powerful one if more than a little depressing. But it’s undoubtedly one worth seeing and certainly deserving of more than one screen in all of Toronto.

USA Today has a piece with del Toro explaining the inspirations behind some of the fantastical elements of the film while The Boston Globe and The San Jose Mercury Nes get some insight on the making of the film.

Trailer: Pan’s Labyrinth
MySpace: Pan’s Labyrinth

AOL’s new 3×3 feature thingee has launched with live video features on TV On The Radio (watch) and The Hold Steady (watch). TVOTR are at the Kool Haus on March 4 and The Hold Steady are also the subject of an audio interview at NPR.

Concert news! To start, Toronto vibraphone fetishists The Hylozoists have been tapped to open up for the solo M Ward at the Mod Club on January 27.

Bloc Party will tour behind their new record A Weekend in the City, out February 6, will be at the Kool Haus on March 25. Full tour dates at Pitchfork, where they also note that frontman Kele Okereke has apparently come out in this interview with The Guardian.

The Ponys, fresh off releasing their first album for MatadorTurn The Lights Out is out March 20 – will be teaming up with Atlanta’s Black Lips for a tour that stops at Lee’s Palace on March 29.

Not entirely sure what the difference between Elvis Perkins and Elvis Perkins In Dearland is, but the latter is at the Mod Club on April 9 – tickets $12.50, on sale Friday. Inside Bay Area talks to this singer-songwriter who looks set to have a big 2007 with the release of his debut Ash Wednesday on February 20.

And an announcement for a Ted Leo & The Pharmacists show at the Mod Club on May 2 briefly appeared online today, but has since disappeared. Hopefully that’s just crossing t’s and dotting i’s because it’s been far too long since I’ve seen Ted live. His new record Living With The Living is out March 20.

I want a cat. Anyone have any thoughts/opinions/experiences with the various adoption agencies around town? The Humane Society, Toronto Cat Rescue, Abbey Cats, etc?

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Sasha says:


    I think when ever possible, saving a cat is best (Humane Society, alley cat, etc.). Sometimes they can take a little while to come around and become really friendly because they may have come from tough situations, but they usually do. I had a 4yr onld rescued from the streets around Coxwell/Danforth…tough as hell, not mean, but not loving either. Years later now, a friendly, pleasant cat who knows he’s better off stuck inside, warm and fed, than living free on the streets!

    Good luck!

  2. Brad says:

    I adopted a cat from a street rescue program (Annex Cat Rescue). It died 3 months later of a disease that it contracted while on the street. I was told by my vet that this is common for feral cats that are rescued.

    Had a great experience with the city pound (down by Ricoh). They euthanize, the Humane Society doesn’t.

  3. j clicky clicky says:

    Let me be the annoying guy who pipes up and tells you to adopt something else, namely a retired greyhound instead. They are a lot like cats, except you have to walk them a fair amount. But walking is good for you, right?

  4. kat says:

    DEFINITELY Toronto Cat Rescue. Both of my cats are from there and were well fostered – plus I still keep in touch with their foster parents to ask about behavioural things, etc. And all of the cats are fixed when you get them (part of the adoption fee). Despite volunteering at The Humane Society, I would not recommend them. Many of the cats fall ill, are ill-attended to while they’re there, and they do not have as great followup care as TCR does. Let me know if you have any questions!

  5. Karl says:

    "Why on earth one of the best reviewed films in recent memory would only be playing on one screen in the whole city is beyond me, but there you go."

    I’m confident it’s not beyond you. It’s a function of business judgments of commercial appeal. It’s the same reasoning that makes Joanna Newsom’s Ys. one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of the year, but not in heavy radio rotation. It may not be right in a moral or artistic sense, but there you go.

  6. Frank says:

    Karl – true, but when said single screen is sold out every night for every screening, maybe – just maybe – they’d do themselves a favour to add it to another screen. that would seem to me to be the smart business decision.

  7. matthew says:

    Has the movie even opened with a wide release yet? I saw it when I was down there for Christmas, and the theatre was packed then, too, but I was under the impression that it wasn’t going to receive wider release for a few more weeks…

    (And, for the record, I really liked it. A bit violent for me, since I’m a wuss, but I still enjoyed it.)

  8. Carrie says:

    I’d also recommend Toronto Cat Rescue. I got my cat from them about 3 years ago now, and although he had a cold, he’s pretty healthy and quite possibly the most easygoing, coolest cat on the planet (seriously, I can even bath him and he sits still). They’re a bit expensive compared to the Humane Society, but they include a dentist visit and shots (and neutering, as mentioned above). One caveat, if you want to declaw your cat, "technically" you can’t, because when you sign the adoption papers you agree not to. Get a good scratching post.

    If it’s a kitten you want, be forewarned if it has siblings…they’ll expect that you adopt at least one of the siblings, too (at least they did a few years ago). I was originally going to get a kitten, but couldn’t handle 2, and it turned out for the best, cuz that’s how I ended up with Hank the wonder cat.

    Good luck!

  9. Sophie says:

    I just want to say – my family in Ottawa adopted two cats from a fostered abandoned pets dealie, two kittens that had been abandoned by their mother. They did not have any health problems, and, at eight years old, are the most wonderful cats in the whole world. So don’t be scared by all of the diseases mentioned in previous comments; I’m sure it’s common, but not all abandoned pets will die or have serious health issues.

  10. Calum says:


    Do you like the new lcd record?

  11. jen says:

    my best friend is the volunteer coordinator for the annex cat rescue. they’re really great and she just adopted a beatiful cat from them. i really recommend them: annexcatrescue.on.ca