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2006-12-31 - 7:58 a.m.

Went to see Pan's Labyrinth last night.

Now, I've seen the trailer for this film twice, and was thinking it was gonna be a sweet, maybe slightly dark fantasy film for kids, sort of Philip Pullman by way of Tim Burton or some such. Boy, is it ever not that (and the R rating is the first clue).

What it is, however, is a very moving presentation about power vs. force, feminine "magic" vs. masculine "reason," freedom vs. fascism, true loyalty vs blind obedience.

And it is very, very violent, featuring the kind of close-up, squirm-inducing blood-sport that made The Proposition such a tough film to watch.

The fantasy sequences are amazing, and the performances are great. Definitely gonna be in my movie top ten.

A few weeks ago I was raving about the IFC Center in Manhattan, but I have now experienced the uber-theater, the king of all movie houses, and that is the Arclight Hollywood (right near Amoeba Records).

It is a gorgeous worship-house for film, huge in scale, with gigantic screens, good acoustics, ergonomic chairs, a snack bar to die for (apple chicken sausage baguettes!), and the nicest staff I've ever encountered. (They say "thank you" and "you're welcome" like they mean it...although that might be a California thing in general).

And this is a first for me--they have assigned seating, which means once you've secured your ticket, you don't need to get to the theater a minute earlier than you need to. Very classy.

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