Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 07/4/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
IN movies, the Chilean dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet has generally and accurately been portrayed as a brutal regime, in which dissidents could be exiled, tortured, murdered and "disappeared" by the state with chilling impunity.
Yet one can't help conclude the dictatorship was viewed more charitably in the country itself. Under foreign pressure, Pinochet himself put his leadership to a vote in 1988 in a straight yes-no plebiscite. Backed by the wealthy and the business community, Pinochet damn near won.
Chilean director Pablo Larrain focuses on the battle behind the plebiscite with No, avoiding the backroom deals and compromises between the anti-Pinochet coalition and perversely emphasizing the actual ad campaigns mounted by both factions.
Gael Garcia Bernal plays hip young advertising exec René Saavedra, a man making a good living at an agency selling cola and microwave ovens to a new generation of Chileans, utilizing MTV-era visuals. The plebiscite guarantees both sides of the debate will have 15 minutes of television airtime, and René is approached to create ads that will motivate the citizenry, cowed by Pinochet's ruthless power, to vote no.
René's notions of sending a positive message ("Chile, Happiness is coming!") rankle the old-school radicals who simply want to play up Pinochet's history of human-rights violations.
But some of René's ideas take hold in the nightly broadcasts. His work is so successful, the Yes side drafts Rene's conservative boss Lucho (Alfredo Castro) to specifically discredit René's work.
Even more menacing, Pinochet-backed thugs and police attempt to intimidate the No side with acts of vandalism and sabotage, acts that seem to compel René to greater efforts, not so much to protect his young son, but to act in his best interests for the future of the country.
Larrain makes the dubious choice of filming the movie with Sony U-Matic video cameras of the period. This makes for a seamless blend when he inserts actual ads from both sides of the campaign. But it also renders much of the film blearily ugly. (No need to invest in the Blu-ray here, given the film's overall diminished resolution.)
But the overall work is pretty fascinating, especially in today's era of ever-more-virulent attack ads. Three stars
ALFRED Hitchcock's films could be visually striking (Vertigo), or stark (Psycho) or pleasantly artificial (Rear Window), but you could rarely describe them as picture-postcard beautiful.
The exception: The Trouble with Harry. Hitch's droll dark comedy from 1955 is set in an gorgeously autumnal New England, where the titular character causes all sorts of trouble by virtue of his being, well, dead. Harry was an unpleasant, sketchy guy in life, and the various small-town types who discover his corpse (including a glib John Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine in her screen debut) have reason to believe they may be partly responsible for his mysterious death.
An example of Hitchcock's black humour at its most benign, this is precisely the kind of movie that warrants trading up to the higher-resolution format. Four stars
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2013 C12
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Brief Encounter lingers on
Sundance closing-night film, 'Grandma' showcases Lily Tomlin
Obama, Cooper push for media help in better vet portrayal
Comedian Tig Notaro star of Sundance doc, host of awards
'Ida' takes an unlikely road to the Academy Awards
James Franco tries to move beyond "The Interview"
Exploring dark side of the soul makes for uneasy viewing
Story requires a few more shades of grey
Film's dirty business should be more entertaining
Sundance First Look: Pearce, Smulders get rom com 'Results'
Worker dies on Taiwan film lot to be used for Scorsese movie
New on DVD/VOD
First Look: 'Dope' is fresh, funny and music-filled
For Sundance hits, theatrical still rules over VOD
'Ghostbusters' cast set with McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones
Prosecutor: Gregg Allman filmmaker never given immunity
Review: Something's missing from the deck in 'Wild Card'
'Selma' star supports Cumberbatch over "colored" comment
Review: Tragedies of 'Timbuktu' told with rare beauty
Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller 'Project Almanac'
Diversity at Sundance doesn't carry over to Hollywood
Sundance Watch: Celebs talk fest, iPhone film premieres
Sundance Watch: 'Tangerine' shot entirely with iPhones
Sundance Quick Quote: Spike Lee discovers crowd funding
Sundance Watch: Redford brings film to his own festival
Private jets, mega yachts marketed at Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Quick Quote: Rashida Jones on porn, sex and women
Common, John Legend to perform 'Glory' at Academy Awards
Sundance Watch: 'Me and Earl' becomes breakout hit at fest
'Django Unchained' actress pleads not guilty to lewd conduct
Sundance Watch: Celebrities sound off on the fest
Review: 'Black or White' wrestles with race in custody drama
Adrian Grenier enjoys anonymity on empty slopes at Sundance
Audrey Tautou, Matthew Weiner among Berlin film fest jury
So it is written...
Death From Above doc screens at Cinematheque
Sundance Watch: Fans angle for selfies, Reynolds talks poker
Why Ryan Reynolds says he's a dangerous poker player
McCain gives thumbs up to 'American Sniper' movie