Armchair Cinephile

Pan’s Labyrinth
(New Line): Do San Antonio cinephiles need any prodding to see this gorgeous, frightening fairy tale by Mexican visionary Guillermo del Toro? We won’t tattle if you catch it this weekend and pretend you were hip to it all along.

Army of Shadows (Criterion): The flipside of the exploitative thrills found in Black Book, Jean-Pierre Melville’s tale of French resistance fighters in WWII is brilliantly, nail-bitingly low key. The film made it onto many a Top Ten list last year, despite being made in 1969.

Becket (MPI): Pick up this one alongside Venus (May 22, Miramax) for a then-and-now look at the ineffably charismatic Peter O’Toole, who here plays King Henry II to Richard Burton’s title character.

The War Tapes (Docurama): Yes, there are a lot of Iraq docs out there, and it can feel pretty masochistic to watch more at this point. But The War Tapes’ distinctive claim is that it’s “the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves” — culled from 800 hours of video footage shot by three National Guard soldiers. Naturally, the resulting perspective is unique when compared to the work of embedded journalists or filmmakers who set out to bolster a pre-determined position on the war.

HIGH-DEF WATCH: Surely high-def is the only way to see the visually stunning, conceptually iffy The Fountain, which arrives this week on both formats. The Road Warrior is considerably less splendid, but it’s lots more fun (both from Warner). 

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