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05/19/2007 Archived Entry: "Two great movies of good and evil"

I APOLOGIZE FOR MY LACK OF BLOGITUDE LATELY and kiss the feet of my fellow blogistas for keeping up the good work. I love the way each blogista adds his own style and specialty. (Although I must admit, Silver, that you just gave me shivers that even this chilly day couldn't otherwise evoke.)

I've been thinking profound thoughts about mundane matters. But none of these musings has struck me as good blog material. Something will ferment. Just not yet.

However, Netflix did deliver two stunningly good movies in a row this week, and if you haven't seen them I recommend that you rush right out. Both are tales of good and evil in human action -- although otherwise the only trait they share is their astonishing excellence.

First is Pan's Labyrinth, a dark fairy tale that's most definitely not for children. In 1944, Spain is in the hands of Franco's fascists. Little Ofelia has been dragged to a mountain redoubt, where her new stepfather, a sadistic, ego-ridden army captain, is in charge of routing out one of the last pockets of resistance. No sooner does she arrive in the lair of this ogre when magic begins to sweep her into its realm. At first she's thrilled to learn that she might actually be Princess Moanna, daughter of the king of the underworld. But the three tasks she's given to perform to prove herself are, in their way, even more dark and hideous than the real-world horrors around her. She knows she can't rely on her fellow humans. But are her magical guides friends -- or treacherous tricksters?

Here's a link to the 96 percent positive reviews on Rottentomatoes.com. And here's a Wolfesblog Amazon.com link to the two-disc set for you who are inclined to buy (as I plan to do).

The second film is The Last King of Scotland. ( Rottentomatoes link (88 percent positive reviews) and Amazon.com link) This one got most of its attention for Forest Whitaker's "ferociously commanding" (and Oscar-winning) performance as Idi Amin, the sort of dictator who'd slap you on the back one moment and have you dismembered alive the next. But James McAvoy, as young Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan who becomes a confidant of Amin's, is -- if possible -- even better. Where Pan's Labyrinth had the distance of a fairy tale, this one has the in-your-face immediacy of a close encounter with a madman -- and with the casual evil that so easily creeps into an otherwise perfectly decent human heart. Get ready for an extreme closeup experience of human corruption. Not to mention superb writing, music, editing, and acting.

Posted by Claire @ 12:43 PM CST

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