Del Toro’s passionate fan base may take umbrage at this post’s heading, but Pan’s Labyrinth certainly pushed the heretofore comic book/horror auteur into the critical spotlight. Labyrinth won three Oscars, was nominated for three more, and was actually upset at the Academy Awards when it failed to garnish Best Foreign Language Film (The Lives of Others walked away with that one instead.)

Creeping into the realm of the political, Pan’s Labyrinth brilliantly examines what appears on its surface to be a very simple question: what is horror? Here, the creatures and insects that frighten young Ofelia (Ivana Boquero) in the night become her allies, and also give way to the very real terror of her Fascist stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergei López), a vile and vicious soldier who seems to enjoy tormenting both his enemies and his own family. So when you wonder to yourself about vampires and ogres and other beasts of the imagination, stop and remind yourself that Spain’s brutal Fascists actually won that war… and remained in power over three decades after this story took place. Ask yourself: how many Ofelia’s (and others) were hurt in those awful years? Makes the creatures of imagination seem a bit less menacing, doesn’t it?

In it’s examination of childhood fears and responsibilities, the film reminds me very much of Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter, albeit with a bunch of awesome special effects.

Pan’s Labyrinth screens Monday, July 29 and Tuesday, July 30 at 7:00 and 9:15pm. Advance tickets are available.

By John Moret
There is a moment about an hour into Hellboy 2: The Golden Army that beautifully showcases the tender love that Guillermo Del Toro has for giant monsters.

The villain, Prince Nuada, releases what seems to be a little green “jumping bean.”  What at first appears to be a harmless little seed grows into a giant tentacled moss creature.  (We learn it is an elemental, a giver of life and destroyer, a forest god).  In typical Del Toro fashion, Hellboy carries a baby up a marquee with his tail and then throws it into the air while loading his gun, which is named Big Baby.

But, in the midst of this light-hearted silliness, he also instills moral ambiguity. Hellboy shoots at the beautiful creature and it slowly shys away, seemingly in pain. Hellboy hesitates, and Prince Nuada questions him, “This is what you wanted, isn’t it?  The last of its’ kind, like you and I.  If you destroy it, the world will never see it’s like again.”

Torn, Hellboy shoots the elemental, causing it to flower and spread a beautiful moss across the ground.  It flowers open, graciously snowing cotton-like leaves down on the surrounding populace.  It’s a poignant moment that is meant to put Hellboy in a place where he must choose between the monster world and human world, a line he must constantly walk.

But, more importantly, it pits the audience against itself.  From that moment on, there is confusion as to who the audience feels compelled to root for.

That same moral confusion sits with all of Del Toro’s films.  Whether it’s the ghost in The Devil’s Backbone, the vampire in Cronos or the Fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro continually causes the audience to question whether the things that go bump in the night are really the thing that we should be afraid of, or is it us?

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army screens Monday, July 22 and Tuesday, July 23 at 7:00 and 9:15pm. Advanced tickets available at the Trylon’s website.


Did you see Pacific Rim last weekend? Want to keep that Guillermo del Toro vibe going for a few more days? Check out Hellboy, del Toro’s take on the long-running Dark Horse comic. Fantastic monsters, rollicking plot, 35mm projection…a great way to spend a summer evening.

Monday & Tuesday: 7pm, 9:15
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Garbo shows off her comedic talents in this film by the always sly Ernst Lubitsch. Ninotchka is only a glimpse at what could have been, as Garbo retired just two years later. This film will be presented at The Heights in glorious 35mm!

Monday: 7:30pm at The Heights
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Defenders: Blake Iverson

Our secret-film series The Defenders continues with this month’s host, Blake Iverson. Blake serves on the Minneapolis Arts Commission the boards of Intermedia Arts and Eclectic Edge Ensemble. In his spare time, he hosts trivia, rides bikes, and drinks whiskey, not necessarily in that order.  What little-loved film will Blake be defending? You’ll have to come to find out.

Wednesday: 7pm
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Ride Lonesome – with star James Best

The first of two nights with James Best at The Heights. Best is probably most recognized for playing Sherriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the Dukes of Hazard, but he built his career on character work in films like Ride Lonesome, a classic western pairing of actor Randolph Scott and director Budd Boetticher. Best will do a Q&A after the show.

On Thursday, Best will present a night of clips and stories from his six decades in show business.

Ride Lonesome
Wednesday: 7:30pm
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An Evening with James Best
Thursday: 7:30pm
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Animal House & The Blues Brothers

The two great classics of counter-culture comedy together in one weekend. Rising from the satirical magazine National Lampoon, Animal House is the grandfather of gross-out comedies, not to mention the progenitor of every coming-of-age sex farce that hit the screen throughout the ’80s (and ’90s, and 2000s, etc.). Oh, and it launched the film career of John Belushi.

The Blues Brothers sprang from a sketch on Saturday Night Live, making them the first of many SNL characters to jump to the big screen. None have done it more successfully, thanks to a film jammed with amazing guest stars, classic musical numbers and quick comedy and more than a few car crashes.

Animal House
Friday: 7pm
Saturday: 9:30pm
Sunday: 7pm
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Blues Brothers
Friday: 9:15pm
Saturday: 7pm
Sunday: 5pm
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A short four years ago, a group of dedicated cinephiles opened their new 50-seat palace to the world with the films of Buster Keaton. That was us and that was the Trylon. Each year we have marked our anniversary with the silent American classics from Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd – films that have lost their place in 21st century multiplexes and symbolize what we want to bring to the Twin Cities. Our modest success and the support from our loyal audience is more than we could have asked for.

This weekend we celebrate those four years in the best way we know how: A new 35mm print of Harold Lloyd’s iconic Safety Last!

Safety Last! screens Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13 at 7:00 and 8:30pm, and Sunday, July 14 at 5:00, 6:30 and 8:00pm. Advance tickets available at the Trylon’s website.


The heyday of Napster seems like a foggy fever dream, and although the online peer-to-peer file sharing service only lasted two years, Napster changed the music industry and our relationship to music forever. Tonight at the Trylon, Sound Unseen presents the new documentary Downloaded directed by Alex Winter (better known as Bill in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) that takes a look at the innovative company, the subsequent legal battles and the far reaching effects of its brief existence.

Downloaded screens Wednesday, July 10 at 7:00pm. Advance tickets are available on the Trylon website.