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Hellboy Ii: The Golden Army (#110 of 5)

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

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The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Given how often his name has been attached to projects, particularly over the last 15 years, Guillermo del Toro could easily be mistaken for a tirelessly prolific director, whose near-annual output of darkly fantastical visions seems to make him the genre fanatic’s Woody Allen. But while del Toro has amassed roughly 30 film credits since making his 1985 debut with the horror short Doña Lupe, he’s only been at the helm of eight features. Other works, like The Orphanage, Kung Fu Panda 2, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which he famously came very close to directing, have seen him serve as everything from writer and executive producer to voice actor and creative consultant. With Pacific Rim, the latest (and most massively budgeted) of that limited del Toro line, hitting theaters on Friday, we’re looking back at the director’s body of work, which reflects a man as interested in the social, political, and existential as the bloody, the slimy, the fleshy, and the scaly. R. Kurt Osenlund

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 9, 2013.

Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions

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Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions
Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions

One of the casual disappointments of the ways we often regard art of all forms is born of that feeling of exclusion that’s often projected and even more often felt. There’s a sense that you have to be educated formally to understand art and to discuss it seriously, and that you might have to be a member of an intangible club of lofty intellectuals in order to be empowered to express a thought about a book or a film or a song that you hope to be taken seriously by others. This is a tragedy, because all great art is an act of democracy that can be felt by everyone. Yes, your background will affect your responses to art, of course, and why wouldn’t it? Your background, which is to say the texture of your life (your childhood, friends, lovers past and present, jobs, education), informs your responses to everything.

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions is a passionate and engaging read, particularly for fans of del Toro’s films, and, most particularly, for monster aficionados of all ages, shapes, and stripes, but it’s most valuable for the way it expresses the filmmaker’s voracious appetite for knowledge. This is an erudite man, and he wears his references lightly, sensually: He invites you into the realms of his obsessions, which include symbolist painters such as Arnold Bocklin, Odilon Redon, and Carlos Schwabe, and writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley, Arthur Machen, and Stephen King. All of these artists figure prominently in Cabinet of Curiosities, and so do a variety of other painters, composers, and even biologists. You may have a hell of a reading list after even casually thumbing through this volume.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup

Seven finalists remain in the Oscar race for Best Makeup, the category that’s poised to prove just how strong a frontrunner The Artist actually is, not to mention stoke the fire of the film’s backlash. The tinting of Jean Dujardin’s toothy mug to accommodate black-and-white cinematography is about to rob recognition from the folks who toiled away, one last time, on magically morphing Ralph Fiennes into the pasty bane of Harry Potter’s existence. It’s also going to beat out Ben Kingsley’s carnivalesque transformation into Georges Méliès in Hugo; Vanessa Redgrave’s caked-on, Elizabethan kabuki in Anonymous; and the fake ears, nose tip, and finger-weave hair that turned Glenn Close into a mouse man in Albert Nobbs. All of this says nothing of the worthy candidates The Artist already beat to the shortlist, like J. Edgar, whose old-age artistry was wrongfully knocked in reviews, and Green Lantern, which saw Peter Sarsgaard grossly mutate into the ultimate toxic egghead.

Spirituality Through Narrative: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Take 2

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Spirituality Through Narrative: <em>Hellboy II: The Golden Army</em>, Take 2
Spirituality Through Narrative: <em>Hellboy II: The Golden Army</em>, Take 2

While a number of critics are positioning Hellboy II: The Golden Army in relation to director Guillermo del Toro’s forthcoming venture into Middle-earth, the film sits more comfortably as a companion piece to the director’s last film, Pan’s Labyrinth. The 2006 Oscar-winner was not just formally beautiful, but resonated with deeply realized themes of spirituality and the necessity of storytelling. Structurally and aesthetically, del Toro rendered two worlds—fascist Spain and a magical fairy world—that couldn’t thrive, grow, or exist without the other. He carefully denied the viewer the pleasure of escaping into myth or narrative, while also establishing a disjointed “reality,” with persistent intrusions of the fantastic. This was precisely his purpose: to illustrate that these two worlds are mutually constitutive and inseparable from one another.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Take 1

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<em>Hellboy II: The Golden Army</em>, Take 1
<em>Hellboy II: The Golden Army</em>, Take 1

While waiting in line for the screening of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, I overhead someone say that Guillermo del Toro’s latest is being seen as his audition tape for The Hobbit. He’d already gotten the gig before Hellboy II’s release, but I imagine that the Mexican filmmaker pulled out some edited footage to show to Peter Jackson & Co. when bidding for the Tolkien prequel. Plenty of fans have already been sold on del Toro’s ability to handle a project with the style and magnitude of The Hobbit, but I’ve felt that some of his more recent endeavors have failed to live up to their potential. Blade II was a very solid upgrade for that franchise, but I was burned by both the under-developed Pan’s Labyrinth and the bogged-down first Hellboy. In Hellboy II, I was looking for a reason to believe in del Toro and, if anything, he does manage to give viewers a substantial hint of what to expect in Middle-earth.