In the past seven days I've done two notable things: quit smoking and watched both Guillermo del Toro's movies, Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone. Like the smoking, I'm sure I'll go back to the movies again and again. [editor's note: he's already back smoking...]
Why? Simply because del Toro (director of the under-rated Blade II, Mimic, and Hellboy) is doing what a lot of Hollywood filmmakers aren't: crafting movies from the ground up with good scripts that employ simple - yet elegant - themes; superior cinematography and set design; and, an appreciation for the psychology of montage and mis en scene . Companion pieces, PL and TDB are both set in post civil war Spain, dealing with BIG ISSUES (such as, oh... life...) from the perspectives of 9 - 11 year old children. As Stephen King used to say, good horror fiction has the capacity to take us back to when we were kids, wondering just what really was hiding under the bed at night. Del Toro does the same to his audience via making children his main characters; it is through their eyes that we see the world for what it is: a cold, calculating place filled with war and evil people.
Oh yeah, they also see the world as fantastic and beautiful, with saints among the sinners and a capacity to understand that there really are no "grey" areas between right and wrong until you get past the age of 12 (and then you justify things like wanting to own the Paris Hilton CD, even though you personally can't stand the chick).
For me, I just can't get enough of the guy's stuff, 'cuz I think he's brilliant. But don't take my word for it, take David Greven's:
"Del Toro’s persistent talent rescues him from critical oblivion. If we piece together moments from his films, we have an impressive body of cinematic statements. The little girl rescuing her grandfather from death in Cronos; Susan’s raised, slashed hand of defiance at the climax of Mimic; Blade’s embrace of the dying vampire woman at the end of Blade II—all of these images taken together amount to a profound and beautifully limned statement about moments of profound generosity and courage from embattled heroes in the face of evil. As a message, it’s utterly simple and awesome, like those in most myths and fairy tales. Del Toro’s work forces us to recognize that part may often be more significant than whole."
(You can read the rest of Greven's article here.)
Insofar as how del Toro's films affect the Boise community... well, they don't, other than they serve as quality studies on how to make a movie look awesome and not suck in the story department. Granted, del Toro has focused on horror/fantasies - but to cubby-hole him into that category as, "something I'm not interested in emulating" would be a mistake. If nothing else, how he achieves Hollywood level (and better) looking movies on minimum budgets - PL cost 13.5 million and TDB cost 4.5 million to make; chump change in la-la land - should be a sign to us that having money in the coffers doesn't necessarily make film making easier; just more expensive.
Real Filmmakers. No Tourists.