No, directed by Pablo Larrain (R, 110 minutes)
No, which won the Cannes Film Festival’s 2012 Art Cinema Award, is a period piece that stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Rene Saavedra, a Dan Draper-like advertising executive tasked with creating a campaign against extending the rule of Chilean President Augusto Pinochet in 1988.
Rene is intrigued by the opportunity to put his powers of persuasion to work in service of something more substantial than a soft drink commercial. So he takes the job, only to be stymied by the clashing ideology of his clients’ diverse groups. They’re held together by their opposition to Pinochet. The clients want the campaign to be serious, to expose the human rights atrocities and corruption of the Pinochet regime.
But Rene wants to win, and believes he can if he embarks on a state-of-the art, relatively content-free strategy that employs humor and music, a rainbow logo, an ear-worming jingle, and all the tricks of broadcast advertising.
With minimal resources and under scrutiny by Pinochet’s minions, Saavedra and his team devise an ambitious plan to win the election and set Chile free from oppression.
“Larrain and cinematographer Sergio Armstrong made the decision to shoot the film on period-accurate video equipment, which allows for the easy insertion of archival footage (some from the actual Yes and No campaigns) but will no doubt disappoint some moviegoers used to the hi-def standards of modern cinema,” says our critic Philip Martin. “One person’s interesting texture is another’s flat and muddy mess.”
Bonus features include commentary with director Pablo Larrain and actor Bernal, and a Q&A with Bernal.
The Tower (not rated, 121 minutes) It’s the Korean version of 1974’s The Towering Inferno: A fabulous Christmas Eve party for the wealthy tenants of a luxury high-rise in Seoul and their guests turns into a nightmare when two helicopters hired to spray snow on the building collide overhead, starting a deadly fire. Directed by Kim Ji-hoon. “It should be obvious for most viewers whether they are likely to enjoy The Tower as, while anyone looking for originality, substance or good writing will be left unimpressed, disaster movie fans or lovers of huge explosions should find a great deal to enjoy,” says critic James Mudge on the website BeyondHollywood.com. “The film is definitely a superior genre entry, up there with tidal wave drama Haeundae, and though undeniably cheap and cheesy, it atones through some dazzling special effects work and grand, bombastic set pieces.” In Korean with English subtitles.
The Producers (PG, 88 minutes) This 1968 musical comedy classic from Mel Brooks, now available on Blu-ray, concerns seedy, down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and his high-strung, too-honest accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), who figure that if they can get investors to cough up cash for a show that’s sure to flop, they can legally keep the extra money.That’s the starting point for Springtime for Hitler, which they describe as “a delightful romp .. with Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.”
Mel Brooks’ feature writing and directing debut remains “scathingly hysterical,” says critic Jeffrey M. Anderson on the website combustiblecelluloid.com.
The Trouble With Harry (PG, 100 minutes) Alfred Hitchcock directs this 1955 black comedy, now available on Blu-ray. It concerns Harry, who’s found dead in the woods near a Vermont village by a kid named Arnie Rogers (Jerry Mathers, pre-Leave It to Beaver). The deceased turns out to be the ex-husband of Arnie’s mother (Shirley MacLaine in her first film role). She and retired sea captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) both have reasons to believe they’re responsible for Harry’s demise, and their increasingly frantic efforts to hide the body result in its appearance at inopportune moments. With John Forsythe, Mildred Natwick and Mildred Dunnock. “Hitchcock’s comedic charms shine in this delightful story about a corpse that just won’t stay buried,” says critic Marjorie Baumgarten in the Austin Chronicle.
Journey of the Universe: Conversations (10-hour, 20-part four-disc series) This Emmy award-winning series, broadcast on more than 275 PBS television stations, takes on the formidable topic of the nature of the universe. Using information from discoveries by world-renowned experts in astronomy, geology, biology, ecology and biodiversity, the series focuses on the epic impact humans have on the planet in a period of growing environmental and social crises.
The documentary explores the earth, the universe and the role of humans in responding to present challenges. “I found the most remarkable strand in Journey to be the vision of humans and the cosmos as aspects of an organic whole: rather than creatures who happen to live inside a mechanistic reality, the show suggests, we are an expression of a continually creative universe,” says Celia Wren in Commonweal magazine.
MovieStyle, Pages 25 on 07/05/2013
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