We watched Pan's Labyrinth which won best foreign language film at this year's Oscars.
What a shocker. Not as in shockingly bad - it is a truly tremendous piece of film making; shocking as in I couldn't believe what I was seeing at times.
The film is set in 1944 in Spain during the time that Franco's fascist troops were mopping up resistance fighters after the civil war. The villainous fascist Captain is one of the most chilling portrayals of evil I've seen. It's not exceptionally graphic in its violence but there are moments when it's hard to keep looking at the screen. This isn't gratuitous - the film makers simply didn't shy away from showing that brutality isn't pretty.
The fantasy sequences are based on the imaginings of a girl caught up in the mess that Spain became in those years and the film makers cleverly mix fantasy and reality in a way that is at once both disturbing and fascinating. As a viewer, you're drawn into the fantasy world and find yourself hoping that, in fact, the fantasy is the reality and not vice-versa.
The subtitling is clear and concise and the film is action and narrative driven and would be mostly easy enough to follow even without the subtitles, so don't let the idea of having to speed-read and/or understand Spanish put you off.
This is a one-off, a mind-blast and a stunning example of film as art and entertainment. Beg, steal or borrow a copy.