Tag: Gael Garcia Bernal


November 16th, 2014 — 7:46pm

****Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.41.12 PM

Rosewater-rm Before we discuss this movie, we should try to answer the question of why would Jon Stewart, the host of the Daily Show, on the Comedy Central Network, want to make his debut as a feature film director in a movie about the 2009 Presidential election in Iran. That was the election where incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated Houssein Mousavi. This election sparked mass demonstrations in the street, which were harshly put down by the government. The defeated candidate was put on house arrest which we believe is still current and he was among many people imprisoned including a a journalist working for Newsweek magazine by the name of Maziar Behari. Behari had appeared in a clearly satirical piece for the Stewart show where it was jokingly mentioned that he could have been been a spy. Thus the connection that must have sparked Stewarts interest which ultimately led him to be a first time director of this movie for which he also wrote the screenplay. It is all about Maziar Behari who was ripped away from his mother’s house with whom he was staying while covering the election, while his pregnant wife was in London. Gael Garcia Bernal, an accomplished Mexican actor, does a great job playing Behari. The film provides an insight into the valiant but futile protests that were made of this election after the hopes of the opposition were dashed. Behari appeared to become a symbol of the masses who try to rise up when they feel they are treated unfairly especially when they are offered an election that they came to feel was fraudulent. He also reminds us of generations of young people who develop values that lead them to fight for what they believe even though it appears that they will be defeated. In this case we learn that Behari’s father and sister both were imprisoned at various times by the reigning Iranian governments and both died in jail at different times. Behari is tortured with the goal of making him confess to being a spy for the West so he can be televised making a confession. The interaction between him and his interrogator who was well played by Kim Badnia is one of the higlights of the movie. In this regard Stewart was able to work in a subtle satirical element, which mocked the prison officials who worked on Behari while still taking seriously the oppressive threat of the tyrannical government. One of us felt that the movie dragged at times but in the end we were well informed and its message was quite clear. (2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, History


January 24th, 2013 — 8:44pm


No- spimages-9

This Chilean movie was one of 90 foreign films  submitted by various countries as an entry for an Academy Award. It is the first film from Chile to become one of the five  finalist for an Oscar in this category which will be awarded in about one month from the date that this review is being written. This is the second film directed by Pablo Larrain to be entered by Chile for an Academy Award. The other film was Tony Mannero in 2008.  No is a dramatization of a very important event that happened Chile 1988 , about which we would guess most Americans might only have the vaguest notion. That was the plebiscite in which the Chilean people were given the opportunity, because of international pressure put on long term President and dictator Augusto Pinochet, to vote whether they wanted him to continue for another 8 years. Pinochet had been an army general who was part of the coup d’etat that had overthrown the government of Salvadore Allende in 1973 and subsequently ruled the country as an appointed dictator President. His government was known for killing, interning and torturing thousands of Chilean citizens who resisted his rule. Therefore it was a big event when this election, which was under international scrutiny, was scheduled to take place where a yes or no vote would determine whether Pinochet would stay in place. The story line follows Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) who is a skilled advertising executive who becomes one of the masterminds behind the “ No “ campaign. Each side is given 15 minutes per day on television to make its case  and the actual 1980s commercials  from each side which were shown in that  election were used in the film. In fact 1/3 of the movie is actual archival tapes which is weaved into the scripted segments. This probably included some of the brutal street scenes where Pinochet’s thugs and police were roughing up protesters. 1980 cameras were used to shoot the movie to capture the texture of the times. The movie showed  the anxiety, drama and fear of the NO advertising team as they made their decision to emphasize what they thought would be a new day for Chile (with song and dance) as compared to all out attack on the existing government (although they did some of that also). On one hand this was an exciting battle with a dramatic ending but it also highlighted the subtle emotions with which these people struggled. We learned that many of the small but powerful  roles of the characters on both sides of this struggle were played by the actual people who had been part of the No supporters  25 years ago . This gave our movie experience an added touch of authenticity. (2012)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign, History

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