An Overstreet Twofer

Jeffrey Overstreet — one of my fave critics — gets not one, but two hat tips.

First off is his interview with Darren Aronofsky, whose latest film, The Fountain, opens this week.

The whole “Big Bang,” the scientific theory of how we’ve evolved, and the question of whether or not there is a Creator — it doesn’t matter to me. I think The Fountain is open to all of that. All of our energy and all of our matter comes from something before us. It’s the old “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” idea that we go back to the earth and then something else comes out of it. I don’t think it affects how you look at Heaven or Hell, or reincarnation, or whichever religious belief you come from. I worked really hard in The Fountain not to get in the way of that. I just wanted people to see that we’re part of this long, lasting cycle stretching back all the way to the Big Bang.

Second is this fascinating Sight & Sound article on Guillermo del Toro, and his latest film, Pan’s Labyrinth.

This willingness to confront pain and to forge his own cinematic dictionary has informed the blend of innocence and brutality that is a trademark of del Toro’s phantasmagorical cinema. From the crushing addiction of Cronos, whose ageing anti-hero is reduced to licking blood from the tiled floor of a public toilet, to the redemptive fantasy of Hellboy, whose titular demon takes an industrial grinder to the horns of his head in a bid to take control of his destiny, del Toro has returned compulsively to these twinned themes. Now in Pan’s Labyrinth, which he wrote, directed and produced, this latterday Welles has created a Citizen Kane of fantasy cinema — a modern masterpiece made entirely on his own terms. Set against the backdrop of fascist Spain in 1944, Pan’s Labyrinth is a “dark fairytale about choice” that distils his distinctive mix of fact and fantasy, poetry and politics, pain and pleasure to form what is, for my money, the best film of the year.

On a related note, one of my fondest memories from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was the post-Pan’s Labyrinth Q&A with del Toro. Del Toro was thoroughly entertaining and gregarious. You could tell he loved being there as he answered fans’ questions with wonderful stories about filmmaking as well as wonderfully crass jokes.

In short, he struck me as just the sort of person that you could easily hang out with some evening, shooting the breeze over a couple of pints.