The Curt Critic featured in the Wisconsin State Journal
The Curt Critic in the news: This recent Wisconsin State Journal article is validation that Liz Zélandais' quest to see all 53 Oscar-nominated films for 2013 is a fascinating enterprise worthy of public interest, rather than merely nuts.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
No - 2013 Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Film (Chile)
I expected to like this movie, maybe even to be be wildly enthusiastic about it. Instead I watched what could have been an excellent production turn into barely-okay as it succumbed to death by a thousand cuts of quality.
The Chilean dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet was launched with the 1973 coup that deposed Salvador Allende, and was marked by 15 years of economic improvement coupled with violent oppression. Due to international pressures in 1988, a plebescite was scheduled, allowing a public vote to grant or revoke the right for Pinochet to rule another eight years. Yes or No. The highest aspirations of those on the "No" side were to expose Pinochet's corruption, but there was never any doubt as to outcome—until they inducted a young ad man to spearhead an unorthodox and creative campaign.
No was filmed with rebuilt U-Matic 3:4 video cameras to achieve realism for the era of the movie's setting and to blend with archival footage. Good idea, badly executed. The cinematography has all the allure of watching Starsky & Hutch reruns on aging VHS cassettes. Shots are repeatedly aimed directly into glare almost painful to view and distracting from continuity of the film. No comprendo.
This period in Chile's history and the story line are engrossing and manage to make the film watchable and even suspenseful. Unfortuately, the characters, who should have been richly delineated, are at best two-dimensional; and the degraded photographic quality paves the road to cinematic hell with good intentions.