December 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig
Directed by: Pablo Larraín (“No”)
Written by: Noah Oppenheim (“The Maze Runner”)

Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) is going for gold again as she portrays First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, the drama is shot beautifully by cinematographer Stephanes Fontaine, and the haunting score by composer Mica Levi drives home the grief felt through the entire picture. The film, however, begins and ends with Portman’s powerful performance, as she masks her pain with poise and attempts to uphold the legacy of her husband even during the darkest of days.


April 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Luis Gnecco
Directed by: Pablo Larraín (“Tony Manero”)
Written by: Pablo Peirano (“The Maid”)

With all the junk we’re persuaded into buying on a daily basis through TV commercials, it’s a bit surprising more political campaigns haven’t tried to use the same techniques to earn more votes for their candidates. After all, if a Jack in the Box marketing team can make someone crave a bacon-flavored milkshake, anything is possible, right?

That’s exactly what happened in Chile during the 1988 referendum where citizens voted on whether or not their dictator Augusto Pinochet would continue his presidency for another term. Those who supported Pinochet voted yes. Those who did not voted no. In the Oscar-nominated film “No,” director Pablo Larraín tells the story of the No campaign to boot Pinochet out of office and the young advertising executive hired to lead the cause with some unconventional ideas.

Gael Garcia Bernal (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) stars as René Saavedra, a character you would find in “Mad Men” if the AMC show was set in 1988 Chile. Although René’s has a commercial background (he makes TV spots for products like soft drinks), he’s brought on to kick start the campaign against Pinochet in the only way he knows how: by peddling the idea of a new government to the people as if he was selling them a Coke.

The rules of the political race are simple: each night both sides are given 15 minutes on TV to convince voters they’re right. The 15-minute spots air every night for a month and then people make their decision. For René, it’s more than simply giving Chilean citizens the facts on why they should get rid of Pinochet, it’s also keeping them entertained and making their message stick. If that includes a few cheesy jingles and logos (and even a mime!), so be it.

As leftist René, Garcia Bernal sells democracy like a champion. His passion and creativity are evident and he pushes his merchandise like a snake oil salesman. Garcia Bernal does a great job matching the script’s low-key humor and satirical take on the state of politics in Chile during the era. Larraín mixes the slight comedic elements well with engaging drama and excellent archival footage. As a matter of fact, the whole film looks like it’s make up of archival footage since it was all shot on video tape. As things play out, you might think you’re watching a documentary at times. It’s fascinating, nonetheless, with Garcia Bernal at the helm and Larraín, who captures Chile’s first-ver Oscar nomination in the history of the country, offering up a story most outside of Chile don’t know.

Pablo Larraín – No

April 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In the Oscar-nominated Chilean film “No,” filmmaker Pablo Larraín (“Tony Manero”) tells the story of Chlie’s 1988 referendum through the eyes of an advertising executive hired to run the campaign against the country’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. Gael Garcia Bernal (“Amores Perros”) stars as René Saavedra, a commercial ad man who brings an unconventional marketing plan to the political arena in hopes of ending Pinochet’s 17 year reign.

“No” was nominated for an Oscar last year. It marked the first time Chile was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language category since the country began submitting films for Oscar consideration in 1990. What was your reaction to the news?

It was fantastic. We started submitting movies for Oscar consideration in 1990 because the dictatorship was over. Before that, it was really hard to make movies.The nomination comes on different levels. One, it helps me in my career, which is something I completely ignore. Two, it helps the movie, which is the most important thing. Now, more people will be aware of it when it’s released.

You were only a child when the national plebiscite took place in 1988. What do you remember about that time in Chile and how did it affect your family?

Well, my family was never exposed to any type of danger. We were not part of a lot of the pain and violence a lot of people suffered. But what I do remember is the mood in Chile. There was something in the air, like a sensation. That’s what I wanted to capture in the film, too. It’s not only about the story and the dramatic plot. It’s also about the atmosphere. I tried to capture that from the memories and feelings I grew up with. The sensation I’m talking about is heavy an unsettling. It was a super grey moment in Chile’s history.

What side of history was your family on during this time? Did they support Pinochet?

Yes, they supported Pinochet just like half of the country was. The people who were in danger were the ones who were against Pinochet.

So, you were brought up in a home where government and politics were part of everyday life. Your father was a senator and your mother once worked as the minister of Housing and Urbanism. How did this influence you as you grew up?

It’s hard to tell because my parents supported Pinochet, but my grandparents were on the No side. Everyone had a different perspective. What I do know is that no matter what you think, the fact that I was in this political environment just got me interested in the subject. I thought there was something there that would make a good movie.

How many of the 27 nights of advertising did you actually watch as research for the film?

All of it. Both sides. I even got access to a lot of material that didn’t air.

What surprised you the most about the campaigns during your research?

It was the freshness of the No campaign. It was something truly unbelievable in how they did it. Every day they did better and better and better. It’s unbelievable now when you watch what happened – and with the perspective of time – how something like that could be possible. During those 27 days, the guys on the No campaign just trusted so much in what they were doing. The people on the Yes side would switch what they were doing every two days because they were confused.

Talk about your decision to make this film look like it was shot on videotape. How do you think this decision enhances the story you’re trying to tell? For me, I loved the fact that you really couldn’t tell the difference between the real footage you used during that time and the film itself.

Thanks, I agree with that. It was very important for us to create an illusion. At least 1/3 of the film is real footage, so it was very important that the audience connected with the movie in that way. We didn’t want them to have to reconnect with it every time they saw the movie in a different format. Sometimes a movie uses just a little bit of real footage, so it doesn’t bother me. But for “No,” we were going to use so much of it, we thought it would be distressing for the audience and would break the illusion somehow. I think it’s pretty important that most people don’t know once the movie has begun what exactly is archival footage and what is not.