Book Review “Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale”

Authors: Nick Nunziata, Mark Cotta Vaz
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 18, 2016

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

This seems to be the year of “Pan’s Labyrinth” getting a resurgence. The film is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary (can’t believe that it has been that long already). This film has been one of my favorites and one of the best from Guillermo Del Toro. When it comes to a visual eye, he is the man to deliver and this film is overloading with beauty and style. “Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale” gives us an exclusive look into the making of this wonderful modern marvel and does not disappoint. It also is stocked tight with a foreword by Guillermo Del Toro himself. I love his passion and it shows how much work and effort in each one of his films. This is a must owe book for any fan of “Pan’s Labyrinth”.

Official Premise: To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this acclaimed fantasy, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinthprovides the definitive account of the film’s creation. Written in close collaboration with the director, this volume covers everything from del Toro’s initial musings, through to the film’s haunting creature designs, the hugely challenging shoot, and the overwhelming critical and fan reaction upon the its release.

The book dives deep into the production of this amazing movie with some beautiful concept art and rare set photos. If you are looking for the ultimate behind-the-scenes look into Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth then look no further than this book! It is not just pretty photos though this book also has interviews with the film stars Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdu, and Doug Jones and also key players like producers Alfonso Cuarón and Bertha Navarro; and director of photography Guillermo Navarro. This film is a classic and this book represents it perfectly!

Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse talk about new FX series “The Strain”

“The Strain” is a novel, which spawned a trilogy from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which also are co-creators, executive producers and writers for the new limited series on FX. Emmy® Award winning Writer and Producer Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) is serving as Executive Producer/Showrunner and Writer.

“The Strain” is a high concept thriller that tells the story of “Dr. Ephraim Goodweather,” the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with The Strain’s Co-Creator / Executive Producer / Director Guillermo del Toro and Show Runner / Executive Producer / Writer Carlton Cuse  about the new series and what we can expect.

Carlton, tell us how you first got involved in this project?
Carlton Cuse: I had read the first Strain novel as a fan of both Guillermo’s work, and also independently I knew Chuck Hogan, and so I was very curious to see what this collaboration would look like. And I was just intrigued by the subject matter. I had read the first novel when it came out in 2009 and really enjoyed it, and then basically about two years ago my agent called me up and said that there was some interest in doing The Strain as a television series and would I be interested in it. I went and met with Guillermo and I had a really good meeting, and I basically decided to get involved, for two reasons. One, because I had a lot of respect for Guillermo as a filmmaker and I thought, particularly in a monster show like this, that he’s one of the most imaginative guys out there in terms of creating creatures and worlds. And I also thought that embedded in the book was this fantastic opportunity to upend the vampire genre, as the vampire genre has sort of been overrun by romance, and that we had had our fill of vampires that we’re feeling sorry for because they had romantic problems. And it was time to go back to the conception of vampires as really scary, dangerous creatures, and in so doing that there was a way to kind of make a genre show that would be different than anything that was out there on the TV landscape.

Being a fan of the book series; what is your plan to incorporate the sequels into the series?
CC: Book one is season one, yes. We basically follow the narrative of the first book in the first season. The plan is that the show will run somewhere between three and five seasons, and as we work out the mythology and the storytelling for season two we’ll have a better idea of exactly how long our journey is going to be. But it won’t be more than five seasons, we’re definitely writing to an endpoint, and we’re following the path as established in Guillermo and Chuck’s novels. But obviously there’s a lot that’s also going to be added. The television show is its own experience, and there are new characters and new situations, different dramatic developments, so the show and the book can each be separately enjoyed. I think that the goal is not to literally translate the book into a television show. You want to take the book as a source of inspiration and then make the best possible television show that you can make. And I think Guillermo, Chuck, myself, all of us involved have basically said, okay, here’s the book, now how do we take the best stuff in here and then use that as elements and then make the best TV show we can. But we view the TV show as its own creation.

Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup

Guillermo del Toro: It was very clear from the start that we had the three books to plunder, but we also had the chance of inventing. We talked about milestones, that we want the milestones and the characters that are in the book to be hit, but with that it became very malleable. Carlton decided, I think very wisely in retrospect, it made perfect sense as a game plan to, for example, leave the origins of The Master, which we opened book one with for a second season, if we go that way, and, for example, bringing a set piece from book two to bookend the story of one character on season one. So, it’s a very elastic relationship that the series has with the book, but by that same token it’s very respectful and mindful of the things that will not alienate someone that likes the books. It should feel as seamless. And I think the decisions we have to understand when Carlton is guiding us through this new medium for the story, to trust and know that his decisions are guided by huge experience and a prestigious career.

Guillermo, how was the transition from feature films to cable television?
GDT: The transition came from both Chuck and I, it was very smooth in many ways because we had the chance to adapt the novels to comic book form with Dark Horse. And coming in we really sought Carlton’s guidance into this new form. I think there never has been an occasion in which our dialogue has seen anyone read the books and say, “This is not the way it’s in the books.” So that much was very satisfactory. For me as a producer and director, it was about having some of the quirks that come from a feature film. I asked FX to give us a long pre-production period so I could really plan out the makeup effects, the creature effects, the visual effects, all of which I have big experience with, in order to try to bring to the pilot a big scope feel to the series doing sophisticated effects and some set pieces, while staying on a fiscally responsible budget and managing. And from a director’s point of view it was the same on the pilot. I didn’t want to go back and say, can I get one day more? Can I do many extra hours? I wanted to fit in the sandbox what I was hoping would feel like a big pilot episode for a big series. And that pre-planning was crucial, but also adjusting the way I staged, the way I approach coverage, or storytelling, and yet not sacrificing anything. It was both some fiscal constraints, but creative absolute freedom, which was a huge thrill for me to get a phone call from John Landgraf before starting the series, saying to me, “We encourage creator content, we love Carlton, we love you, and we want you guys to do the most idiosyncratic, best version of the series that you can.”

Tonya Wise/PictureGroup

Can you tell us about the decision to do this as a limited series?
CC: I think that we’re moving into this new phase of television where I think audiences are really embracing stories with a beginning, middle, and end. And if you look at the success this season, for instance, of True Detective and Fargo, as well as the kind of incredible response that the end of Breaking Bad got, I think that you have to recognize that the audience wants to see stories that come to a conclusion. They want the full and rounded experience. And television has been sort of a first act and sort of an endless second act, and I think that the best television now is giving you a three act experience. And I think that that’s what we want to do with our show.
GDT: I agree with Carlton. I think one of the things that we made essential when we pitched the series everywhere, and certainly at FX, is we came in and we said we are not going to be extending beyond the—we presented two arcs, one that can fulfill three or four seasons, and hopefully the second or third book are complex enough that they can generate a fifth one. But we literally said it needs to end when it needs to end, and that was a central part of finding a home for the series.

Can you talk about the creature development for this show?
GDT:
Yes. I’ve been obsessed by vampires for a long, long time, since I was a very young kid, and a very strange kid. I read about vampire mythology worldwide and I familiarized myself with the Japanese, Filipino, Malaysian, and Eastern European variations on the vampire, and many, many others. And I kept very detailed notes as a kid on where to go with the vampire myth in terms of brutality, social structure, biology, this and that, and some of those notes made it into my first feature, Cronos, some of them made it in Blade II, when I directed that, and most of them made it into The Strain. And designing them, we knew and we had it very clear that, for example, The Master needed to be hidden for at least half the season or more to not make him that accessible. I came up with the idea that this guy that has been alive for centuries and essentially is an apex of the Dark Ages in the middle of a world of imminent modernity. You have people with cell phones, jet airplanes, iPads, texting, Internet, all of that, and in the middle of it there is a 9 foot tall, hand carved coffin with a creature that has been alive for centuries. And it’s ancient, and that’s what makes it powerful, that it doesn’t care about any of the modern accoutrements of mankind that gives mankind such a false sense of security. And The Master needed to look that ancient, so we decided that he was going to become his wardrobe and that eventually when he reveals himself you have a second layer. So we designed the wardrobe, the cape and the multiple layers of clothes that are falling apart, because he has an accumulation of clothes over the 1800s, 1900s, 21st century, he’s just accumulating rags, and he needed to look like a lump, like a bunch of rags thrown on the floor, then come alive, and out of all these rags comes out this incredibly glistening and viscerally biological appendage that then drains the first victim. And that’s the way we started guiding the process of designing The Master. And the more we go into the season, the more you see of him and the more you discover layer after layer of that creature design.

What about FX made you decide the network was the right place for The Strain?
GDT: We had a fantastic first meeting, if I may say so. We had an incredible meeting in which the very head of the network and everybody in that room knew patently well and intimately the three books. And yet they were excited by Carlton, they were excited by the possibility of not just doing the books but where would Carlton take it as a show runner, they were excited about, okay, that’s the universe, but we see many more possibilities than that. That made it very unique in our eyes. And they celebrated the aspects of the series that were edgier, or less of a kind that we have seen before. The other thing for me that was unique is I’m a follower of the brand, I’m a big FX fan, and they give you time to find your footing. They give you time to establish, especially in a genre like this, you know you cannot just do everything at once, reinvent everything at once. You either reinvent the characters in a genre story, or you reinvent the generic traits with characters that you’re able to place in the normal canon of the genre and then little by little evolve those characters, and that needs time. And FX has been known to be supportive of series that find their footing and creatively allow them to explore anything from characters you’ve seen before that then transform into things that are new, or concepts that are very new that go to daring places. So, it made it a unique place for the show.

CC: I would just add to everything that Guillermo said, that again we were presenting them with a very specific business model about how we wanted to approach the show, that we wanted to have the show last between three and five seasons, that we needed them to spend a bunch of money up front to do the R&D and the work that was necessary to do the world building for our show, and they would have to spend money up front on writing a bunch of scripts. And they jumped in wholeheartedly and they embraced the way in which we wanted to produce the show, as well as our creative vision, and we felt incredible confidence coming out of our meetings with them that they were the exact right partners for us.

Book Review “Guillermo del Toro – Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions”

Author: Guillermo del Toro, Marc Scott Zicree
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 29, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When I saw this book and literally jumped out of my chair and knew that I need to have a copy. A chance to get inside the mind of writer-director Guillermo del Toro? That is an absolute no brainer. He has created some of my favorite films and characters including the “Hellboy” series, “Pan’s Labryrinth” and even the new “Pacific Rim”, which is one my favorite films of the year. His films have this very mystical feel to them. They actually swift you away for two hours and are also so unique. When you think of all the pre-production work that went into those films, it leaves you dying with anticipation to get an inside look of del Toro’s personal notebooks, sketches and drawings from his films. This is a must have for any fan of his films.

Official Premise: Over the last two decades, writer-director Guillermo del Toro has mapped out a territory in the popular imagination that is uniquely his own, astonishing audiences with “Cronos”, “Hellboy”, “Pan’s Labyrinth” and a host of other films and creative endeavors. Now, for the first time, del Toro reveals the inspirations behind his signature artistic motifs, sharing the contents of his personal notebooks, collections, and other obsessions. The result is a startling, intimate glimpse into the life and mind of one of the world’s most creative visionaries. Complete with running commentary, interview text, and annotations that contextualize the ample visual material, this deluxe compendium is every bit as inspired as del Toro is himself.

Harper Design did such an amazing job on this book. You can tell that there was a lot of love put into this release and making it look as good as possible. It looks like a $100+ book and it is going to have a very prominent place on my coffee table for many months to come. The colors in the images are super crisp and high-def. I literally found myself just staring at the difference sketches, doodles and designs from del Toro. All of his films are covered here including “Cronos”, “Mimic”, “Blade 2”, “The Devil’s Backbone”, “Hellboy 1 & 2”, “Pan’s Labryrinth”, “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark”, “Pacific Rim” and the unmade “At the Mountains of Madness”, which del Toro has been trying to get made for years. Also included here is a very impressive foreword by James Cameron. There is an afterword by Tom Cruise and several other contributions including Neil Gaiman and John Landis, among others. You can tell that del Toro is very respected upon his peers and it shows here.

If you think you know what to expect from Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities…think again cause it will definitely surprise you. It is jam-packed with such amazing material that was reproduced from his notes, drawings, etc with some really great concepts even including unused creatures and countless other ideas that could only come from the mind of del Toro. Along with the personal jots of handwriting, illustrations, notes, which are both in Spanish and English, there is also some new annotations from del Toro that even add more context and clarity to the thought behind his unique ideas. I wrote earlier that there was something unique about his films and that is that they all share this fairy tale feel to them. That is something that I really enjoy and it is well portrayed in this compendium to the writer/director. Overall, highly recommended.

Run-of-Engagement Pass Giveaway for MAMA [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

© 2013 Universal

If you would like to enter for a chance to a run-of-engagement (ROE) pass to see Guillermo del Toro presented film “Mama”, which comes out January 18th, 2013, please leave a comment below with your favorite supernatural thriller. This giveaway will be open for entries until January 21st. Winners will be chosen on a RANDOM BASIS at that time. ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON PLEASE! OTHERWISE ALL ENTRIES WILL BE DISREGARDED. The winners will be will notified then via email. Good luck and hope to see if you at the screening!

 

http://www.mamamovie.com

 

Release date: January 18, 2013
Genre: Supernatural thriller
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nelisse
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Screenplay by: Neil Cross and Andy Muschietti & Barbara Muschietti
Story by: Andy Muschietti & Barbara Muschietti
Produced by: J. Miles Dale, Barbara Muschietti
Executive Producer: Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their parents were killed. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night.

Five years ago, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished from their suburban neighborhood without a trace. Since then, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), have been madly searching for them. But when, incredibly, the kids are found alive in a decrepit cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home.

As Annabel tries to introduce the children to a normal life, she grows convinced of an evil presence in their house. Are the sisters experiencing traumatic stress, or is a ghost coming to visit them? How did the broken girls survive those years all alone? As she answers these disturbing questions, the new mother will find that the whispers she hears at bedtime are coming from the lips of a deadly presence.

Ron Perlman talks about “3,2,1…Frankie Goes Boom”, “Sons of Anarchy” and Guillermo del Toro

Ron Perlman is known for his many unique roles like Hellboy or Vincent in “Beauty and the Beast”. He also plays bad-ass biker, Clay Morrow, in “Sons of Anarchy”, which just started it’s fifth season on FX. Ron tackles a completely different role in the new comedy “3,2,1…Frankie Goes Boom”.  He is playing the role of the transsexual ex-con, Phyllis. This film is a absolute riot and Perlman really steals the show. Media Mikes had the honor to chat with Ron about this new role, his recently “reset” character on “Sons of Anarchy” and his continuously growing resume working with  Guillermo del Toro.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to the role of Phyllis, the transsexual ex-con in “3,2,1…Frankie Goes Boom”?
Ron Perlman: It was not a childhood aspiration let me tell you [laughs]. However life its strange way of taking twists and turns that you never see coming. It turns out that Charlie Hunnam, my co-star on “Sons of Anarchy”, was going to to this film as his summer school pet-project. I get a call from him that the filmmaker would consider reading this script and play the role of Jack (this ended up being played by Chris Noth). I started reading it and I got to page 2 or 3 and I just said “Holy shit, this is really funny and I need to be in this movie. I started reading Jack’s part and I really loved Jack…but then I got to Phyllis. I get this mental image

of Jax Teller from “SOA” coming in and seeing Clay Morrow in a house dress, red nail polish, lipstick and being asked to kiss his hand. I said “Well, if that doesn’t get these fuckers nothing will” [laughs]. The more I read of Phyllis, the most I realized that this will be a really fun character to explore and unlike anything I have ever done before. I really admired the comedy in the writing. I called up and told them what I wanted to do and they said “It just so happens that you are the only person with the balls enough to ask to play Phyllis and by default you got the part”.

MG: Where did you get inspiration for the character?
RP: There was really no real inspiration from her that came from my life personally. Everything I used as a jumping off point as with what Jordon (Roberts) wrote. I just love the notion that Phyllis starts off as Phil, a guy who is an outlaw and is this computer hacker. He has this amazing ability to rip off Bank of America for $2 million bucks and that is how he ends up being Bruce’s (Chris O’Dowd) cellmate. He always had this notion of being a woman born in a man’s body and feels compelled to fix that. I said to myself “Jesus, if I can’t figure some interesting idiosyncrasies for the planning of this guy, then I should really turn in my Screen Actor’s Guild card.” [laughs]

MG: How was it going from working with Charlie Hunnam on “Sons of Anarchy” to this film?
RP: Some of the scenes that could have been very uncomfortable, and if fact where very uncomfortable, it helps that I had a bro on the set. I could say “Dude, it behooves us both to never get into the press as to how the filming of this actually looked and smelled like”. That fact that it was my bro that I was doing this with really helped a lot.

MG: Do you find that comedy comes natural for you?
Comedy was what started me off as an actor. I did some stand-up when I was really young, growing up in New York. Then I joined a troupe with a group of friends doing sketch comedy. So that was my first love. Hollywood does afford me to do a lot of comedy. So in order to find these opportunities, I have to go underground and find projects like “Frankie Goes Boom”. But when I am able to do it, it is a real pleasure.

MG: After five seasons, do you feel that that Clay Morrow has changed within your portrayal?
RP: In the first four years, he has this station in life and this stability and marriage with Gemme (played by Katey Sagal). Now in season five he has lost everything. He is on a reset now. No one knows where he ends up at the end of season five, including yours truly. But he is definitely on a journey where the sand is shifting under his feet and he is re-adapting himself. What an amazing opportunity that is

for me as an actor. You sign on to do a TV show, the conditions of which are highly well articulated and then all of the sudden five seasons in you are almost playing a new character. It is the same character but under completely new circumstances. Yeah, it is awesome and you don’t get to do that often on television. We all feel very blessed that this show is such an un-obvious exercise in storytelling. It sets a completely unpredictable set of circumstances and also while continuing to be very dynamic and violital. It is flood with very explosive violence and it is like a bad car accident…you can’t take your eyes off it.

MG: Are you and Charlie planning to work together on every project, after this you have “Pacific Rim” coming out?
RP: Yeah, for life man. This is it. Charlie Hunnam and I. We are the new Laurel and Hardy or Martin and Lewis or Abbott and Costello or probably Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen. But I am not sure which one is the dummy.

MG: How was it working with Guillermo del Toro yet again on this film?
RP: Oh my God, this is number five for me and GDT! We felt like family members from the very first project, “Cronos” and on. We became really good friends. So to get to go through life together celebrating this friendship and doing it in such a way that we add-in these wonderful creative opportunities into the mix is great. I am watching him evolve as a filmmaker and he is watching me grow old as an actor. We are getting to do it in each other’s presence. That is in a category that I can only label as “Undescribable”. There are no words to describe how phenomenal that reality is. Now that we hit the number five [laughs], it is pretty clear to me that it is not a fluke. It is probably something we will continue to do until one of us drops, and I got a really good feeling I am going first.

MG: You got to get him to do another “Hellboy” film man!
RP: I am working on it. Trust me I am working on it.

MG: You’ve been successful in both film and television, do you have a preference?
RP: I really love working for the camera. I really love working on interesting material. I would have to say the opportunity I have on this particular television show is probably 500 percent better than any other television exercise that one could hope to be on. There are some really great TV shows out there now like “Newsroom”, “Breaking Bad” and “Boardwalk Empire”. There is a lot of great stuff now being done on television. But for the most part those are the exceptions to the rule. And I am on one of the most exciting shows to be a part of. It is almost like doing a movie since it is such a charged and intelligent setting. So yeah, I don’t have a preference as long as it answers to those edicts.