Cine Latino covers, well, all things relating to Latino culture and the movies, every Wednesday.
Wondering what to do this Valentine's Day weekend? How about joining Gael Garcia Bernal, Jessica Alba and Sofia Vergara at the movies?
Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal's latest film project, No, will be opening in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. Directed by Pablo Llarin, the Chilean film follows the story of Rene Saavedra, an advertising executive in charge of an instrumental ad campaign to overthrow dictator Augusto Pinochet. The film is up for Best Foreign Language film at this year's Oscars.
"I always get nervous before the beginning of any shoot and before seeing it for the very first time," said Bernal during our recent interview with him at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. "Then afterwards it's different because there's nothing I can really do."
Bernal admits the film posed a lot of challenges, which included mastering the Chilean accent.
"Oh, there were many challenges. The first was the Chilean accent. It's a different accent from what I speak and that was hard. Also, getting a full understanding of what went on in Chile during that time period," said Bernal.
In 1988, after a 15-year regime characterized for its disregard for human rights, murders and disappearances, Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet called for a referendum on his presidency. While many political forecasters predicted a sure win for Pinochet, the people voted in favor of the "No" campaign, overthrowing Pinochet and making him the first dictator in recent history to step down through a democratic election.
"It's an important movie," said Bernal. "Rene is one of those characters you seldom get a chance to explore. He symbolizes the political awakening, a heroic being. I'm very proud of Pablo [Llarin]. Of his craftsmanship and of how he constructed this film into what it is. He did a great job, a fantastic job. I'm also proud that the real people who were part of the "No" campaign are finally able to get the recognition they deserve. You always hope for the best and with his film we knew there was something interesting there. It's a proud moment."
As far No being the perfect Valentine's Day movie….
"I don’t get romantic in the cutesy kind of way. I think there's romance in looking at hope and future so I think this film will make a great Valentine's Day date if you perceive romance that way but if you're into the 'fluffy bear' kind of love then this is not the movie for that kind of Valentine," said Bernal, laughing.
Another film opening this week is Escape from Planet Earth, so if you're in the mood for something lighter try this family-friendly animated film starring Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Frasier, Jane Lynch, Ricky Gervais and George Lopez. Alba and Vergara were on hand last week to promote all things aliens. Here's what they had to share about their alien characters.
"I play Lena, it's the first baddie I have ever played," said Alba. "She's terribly misunderstood but I think she has the best intentions. She just wants to be cared for and loved. The one that she loves just happens to be from another planet and be very evil. It's nice having the freedom to be playful and silly and be in a movie that I know my daughter can watch."
"Well, my son is now 21 but he used to love these kinds of movies," said Vergara. "I play Gaby, she's a journalist. She's like the main newscaster of the station in that planet and she gets to show off her boyfriend who is one of the main heroes. She's adorable and very real."
So what made these Latina mamas come on board? Alba admits that playing a villain was enough to have her sign the dotted line but what really resonated with her was the fact that the females in the film were tough cookies.
"The women are much stronger than they used to be. They’re not really the damsels in distress anymore," said Alba. "Entertainment that’s geared towards young people [shows] women as being equal and strong."
"My little one [didn’t quite understand a few things]; she thought I was wearing a costume so she asked me if the blue mask was hot. She didn’t understand that it was animation. It was fun to play the nemesis but my daughter kept asking is I was really being mean," said Alba, laughing.
For Vergara it was the family friendly aspect that made her love the story.
"This is one of those lovely films to watch with your whole family," said Vergara. "They have many issues like real families do but at the end of the day their differences help bring them closer together."