We caught up on some of the Netflix laying around JerseyCool central this past holiday weekend and have a couple of rental recomendations for you. Both films are foreighn language but are actually very good examples of subtitles.
I can understand some people don’t like them. We here at JerseyCool spend most of our days reading and writing, so when we head out to the theater paying attention to text that scrolls across the screen is the last thing we want to do. However, this doesn’t bother us quite so much at home and both Pan’s Labrynth and Apocalypto are fine films and the fact that you have to read along doesn’t make a licks worth of difference.
Let’s start with Pan’s Labrynth, Guillermo del Toro’s great piece of Spanish magical realism, that pops off of the screen. Now, repeat after me, “this is not a kid’s movie…this is not a kid’s movie.” Yes, some younger folk will be enchanted by the fairy tale story and the mythical creatures, but the story is set during the Spanish revolution and is probably too intense for children under 12. Most notably there is a violent execution scene and very strong allusions to torture.
However, for those older, Pan’s Labrynth is a great way to introduce them to what post-modern filmmaking is all about: blending genras and producing poignent, topical commentary based off of old conventions.
The film is a growing up tale about a young girl who has to choose between a fairy tale princess world and the hard, war-torn adult world she lives in. The choice would seem obvious but combine a vulnerable, pregnant mother, a caring lady of the house and an evil fascist stepfather and you have the makings for a great, modern fairy tale.
The ending is actually spot on and nearly perfect in letting viewers decide for themselves what happens without cheating them of the experience. Yes, David Chase this line is meant for you.
Apocalypto is Mel Gibson’s latest crack at foregn language filmmakeing and we thought, after a few fits and starts in the beginning, Mel pulls off a fairly grand action-adventure movie set in the waning days of the Mayan empire. The entire movie is spoken in Mayan, a long dead language, but quite honestly you’d get the point of the film even if there were no subtitles. In many ways it’s a silent film and some of Gibson’s visuals are stunning.
Yes, Gibson comes with a lot of baggage and yes this would be a very conservative-leaning depiction of the Maya (To learn more, check out Charles C. Mann’s brilliant 1491) .
Politics aside, Apocalypto is a pretty gripping story and certain scenes will haunt you long after the last subtitle rolls. Sure, Gibson throws one too many a cheap trick at the end but that’s his perogative. Personal feelings aside, Mel Gibson is at least trying to make films that matter.