24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Gael García Bernal

Cannes 2012: Gael Garcia Bernal says 'No'

May 19, 2012 |  5:51 am


CANNES, France -- Films with buzz at Cannes usually come from one of the official selection’s numerous sections, but this year one of the early popular favorites, and deservedly so, hails from the festival’s genial crosstown rival, the Directors’ Fortnight.

That would be the simply named “No,” directed by Chile’s Pablo Larrain, best known for his previous film, “Tony Manero.” Here he’s taken a little-remembered event in his country’s recent history and made it into a smart, involving, tangy film that mixes reality and drama to provocative effect.

In 1988, after 15 years of authoritarian rule, Chile’s leader, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, responded to international pressure by agreeing to hold a plebiscite on his rule. Each side, including the "No" forces, would get a rare 15 minutes of uncensored television time to state their case.

It is the conceit of Larrain’s film (screenplay by Pedro Peirano, based on a play) that the "No" TV spots, which in reality were done by committee, were in large part the idea of one advertising man -- Rene Saavedra.

Beautifully played by Gael Garcia Bernal, Saavedra has the counterintuitive idea of selling the "No" vote the same frothy, soft-focus way he would have sold a soft drink or a microwave oven.

But rather than embracing this subversive idea, everyone is against it, including Saavedra’s ad agency boss, his estranged and politically active wife, and the political coalition that is his client. And don’t even ask what happens when the Pinochet people start to understand his strategy.

Directed by Larrain in a confident, assured style, and benefitting from the use of the actual ads that ran in 1988, “No” is a most unusual underdog story, the kind of heady, relevant filmmaking we don’t see often enough at Cannes. Or anywhere else.


Jacques Audiard sought a film where the protagonist was love

Cannes 2012: 'Gomorrah' director aims at sins of reality TV

Cannes 2012: Is Roman Polanski seeking some image rehab?

Cannes 2012: An Osama bin Laden battle brews by the beach

-- Kenneth Turan

Photo: Gael Garcia Bernal in "No." Credit: Cannes Film Festival

Will Ferrell to star in Spanish-language film 'Casa de mi Padre'

November 3, 2011 |  1:21 pm

Will Ferrell

In the culturally open-minded tradition of Steve Martin and Chevy Chase in "¡Three Amigos!" and Jack Black in "Nacho Libre," Will Ferrell looks to become the latest Hollywood comic star to take a swipe at the Spanish language.

Variety reports Thursday that Ferrell will star in "Casa de mi Padre" as a ranch owner's son who's trying to settle his father's debts while struggling with a feared narco overlord played by Mexican actor Gael García Bernal. According to Variety, rights to the film have been obtained by Lionsgate's Latino label, Pantelion Films.

Diego Luna, who played opposite Bernal in Alfonso Cuarón's coming-of-age drama "Y Tu Mamá También" (2001), a landmark of modern Mexican cinema, as well as the dark comedy "Rudo y Cursi" (2008), also will appear in "Casa."

Matt Piedmont, who'll direct, wisecracks to Variety that his and Ferrell's "collective knowledge of the Spanish language amounts to what we learned during a half-hour Learning Annex class taken the night before production of the film began."

But the project has promise. Spanish-language comedies with cross-border casting could play well with Latinos, who are among the fast-growing segment of U.S. theater audiences. Not to mention the marketing possibilities throughout Latin America, a part of the world where many movie theater chains are compelled to show disproportionate numbers of Hollywood films.

So who will laugh last? Vamos a ver.


Mexican culture in a sweaty headlock

Mexican stars chase the Hollywood dream

Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal reunite for 'Rudo y Cursi' 

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Will Ferrell in "Old School." Credit: DreamWorks



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