One’s a deadly MI6 agent. The other’s a football hooligan with a mod Lloyd Christmas haircut. Together, they’re The Brothers Grimsby, opening Friday and inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: the best and worst movie brothers!
Not since Charlton Heston played a Latino drug officer in Touch of Evil has a giant of American cinema so, ahem, convincingly inhabited a Mexican on screen like Will Ferrell in this week’s Casa de mi Padre. Making his Spanish-language debut, Ferrell plays slow-witted black-sheep-of-the-clan Armando Alvarez, whose swarthy brother Raul (Diego Luna) is taking the family into the drug trade against the nefarious La Onza (Gael García Bernal). Meanwhile, Raul’s fiance, the beautiful and tragic Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), has fallen for Armando, a wedding turns into a hyperreal bloodbath, and a mystical white panther stalks the patently fake jungle sets dispensing oracle wisdom. The movie is an affectionate satire of the unintentionally comic Mexican telenovelas, with a heavy dose of bad Spaghetti Westerns, overly sincere performances, and even a touch of Jodorowsky strangeness. We sat down with the star recently for a chat about the film…
This movie has everything: action, romance, surrealism, panthers…
Will Ferrell: [Laughs] Yeah.
As I understand, you’d always wanted to do a Spanish-language movie. At what point did it become this one?
You know, I had the general idea and then it really was Andrew Steele, the writer, who just kind of created the whole story, the whole setting. When we talked about it I was kind of like, “Andrew, I don’t know what exactly but I’m sure it’s gotta be some epic story, probably with a love element and some sort of melodramatic tale.” But yeah, he kind of turned it into this story and added the narco traficante element to it. Then when we added Matt Piedmont, the director, to it, he kind of added the surrealism element with the way he shot things and finding and using old lenses at Panavision to shoot on, shooting it anamorphic and not processing the film and stuff like that. It just kind of kept getting… the simple structure was built and then more and more layers of schlack were added.
That being the technical term.
Were you, like Matt, a fan of the telenovelas?
I had seen telenovelas just, you know, cruising around the TV and had always thought to myself, “God, these things are kind of fascinating.” They were so over the top and had this weird style to them; they were very bizarre. So that was where the initial concept came from, but then Andrew, those guys, they know their cinema really well and they were kind of connoisseurs of bad Mexican cinema from 1969 through the middle ’70s — you know, a lot of these Spaghetti Westerns with the jump cuts and the continuity issues and things like that.
So we’re not talking about Sergio Leone-level stuff here.
More like the kind of movies you’d accidentally see on late night TV…
Late at night on TV, poorly dubbed in English. [Laughs] So they started talking about what if we added those elements, and I thought — that’s amazing. But I can’t say that I knew that world so well. Between Matt and Andrew, they really gave it the style that it has.
When you committed to do this, had you made the decision to speak fluently in Spanish?
Genesis Rodriguez was very full of praise for your… cadence.
[Laughs] That’s very nice.
She’s the expert, having been in telenovelas.
She would know. She’s a pro. And Diego [Luna], too, actually did telenovelas ’til he was 19, I guess, which I didn’t know. We didn’t realize that he saw it as an opportunity to make fun of what he had done as an actor.
He didn’t think you were serious about the movie, right? Like it was some kind of practical joke?
Yeah. He even sat down with us — we all had drinks in Venice and he was like, “Are you really gonna learn Spanish?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” Then he said, “Alright, well… I guess I’m in.” [Laughs] But when I had the initial idea I always thought, “If I’m gonna do this, the joke won’t be that I speak Spanish poorly.” The joke has to be that you’re sitting in the theater, watching it, and I come up on screen speaking Spanish and a couple of things go through your head, like: “How long is this gonna last? Is it gonna last the whole movie? There’s no way… oh my god, I think it is.” And the third point being, “And he sounds pretty good, I think.” [Laughs]
‘Cause that gag would’ve gotten old in about two minutes.
Exactly. That’s a sketch. So I knew that if I was gonna do this I had to at least sound as authentic as I could. That’s why he hedged our bet a little bit with the family, with the father and Diego commenting at times, “You speak so weird” and “You’re not the smart one.”, Also, we knew that for native speakers I would sound decent, but a little off. So I tirelessly worked with a translator for about six weeks out from shooting, and then every day, on the set, we’d drive together and go over the lines, and then drive home together and go over the next day’s lines.
src=”http://resizing.flixster.com/T7QkijYcQ5Xc4kXQpIHRmYcMUMA=/630×268/v1.czsxMDI0OTY2NztqOzE5MTc3″ width=”630″ height=”255″ />
Does Matt speak Spanish?
No. Matt doesn’t speak Spanish, Andrew doesn’t speak Spanish, so… [Laughs]
That must have been an interesting set. Genesis was saying that Gael and Diego would sometimes ad-lib and you’d be left with a kind of blank stare…
How did that work? I mean, you obviously have your particular comedic style, so how did that mesh when you’re speaking Spanish? Did that mean you had to find a different style of comedy when you were doing it?
You know it was almost, in a weird way, like being a silent film actor — [laughs] — or what I imagine that would have been like, in the sense that I knew that it would be all I could do just to memorize what my lines were and get them down with authenticity and emphasis in the right places, so it sounded like I was speaking the right way. That would be hard enough. I just knew that it was not like I was gonna get all that down and then start fluently improvising. So I just kind of found moments: in reactions, non-verbal, physical things — like the moment where I help Genesis up on the horse, and the moment before that where I’m talking with Efren [Ramirez] and Adrian [Martinez] and I’m rolling the cigarette and we’re laughing. I couldn’t get the cigarette to work at all, everything was just spilling out and I just went with it.
Which became a running gag.
Yep. We just kept running with it, and finding these through lines; they were the things that were more improvised, as opposed to actual dialogue.
Will we ever see that missing reel of you wrestling with the white panther?
[Laughs] No. I don’t think there’ll be any wrestling. We always had that — the lost footage. The other character, the other kind of personality in the movie, is that it’s just bad. It’s a bad movie, so we wanted… we just knew we didn’t have the time or resources to choreograph a scene with a puppet panther.
Where did you find these puppets? There’s one taxidermy that looks like he was found on the side of a road.
The one that moves actually came from Henson.
The animatronic one?
Yeah. Those people were nice enough to want to be involved for very little money. [Laughs] And then Piedmont, he loves his set design and production design and finding strange taxidermy and things like that. Kevin Kavanaugh, the production designer, who’s actually an old friend from growing up in Orange County, he was so scrappy and innovative and he came up with a lot of that stuff. That set that Kevin built, of the lake, that’s one of the funniest moments to me — where Genesis is like, “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen” and it just looks terrible.
It’s like a sound stage version of a sound stage set.
[Laughs] Right, right. That’s what I like about this movie.
But I like that it’s mixed with some quite impressive cinematography elsewhere.
Yes. And at times, the movie looks big and expensive, it’s crazy.
Since they’ve done several films together, did Gael and Diego come as some kind of package deal?
[Laughs] Yeah. I mean they’re good friends. I think they just talked to each other and were like, “Hey, we have such a history together on screen — let’s do this together and kind of make fun of that.” I think there were so many meta opportunities for them they were just, “Let’s do this.” [Laughs]
I get the impression that those guys are amusing, but I was surprised at how funny they really are in this.
You know, it’s funny: they’re pretty impressive guys, because they’re really funny in English — they’re sarcastic, you know; just when we talk in English they have a great sense of humor. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that they were funny, because they’re so committed. I always found that to be the case when I was on Saturday Night Live — the best hosts, a lot of the time, were the straight dramatic actors, ’cause they would just commit to scenes wholeheartedly without saying “Give me a funny line here.” They knew that if they just trusted the context it would play funny, and sure enough those were some of the funnier shows. These guys, they instinctively knew that as well.
Genesis plays it very straight, too — which makes her funny.
Yeah, I think so too. That scene on the horseback where she talks about her upbringing and living on the streets and everything like that, it’s just delivered so dramatically that it makes me laugh.
I read some talk that you and Adam [McKay] are working on a sequel to Step Brothers. Will that be your next project together, with him directing?
Yeah, I think so. In fact, I’m calling him right now, after this interview, to let him know that you’re the third or fourth journalist who’s said “Step Brothers 2 — come on.”
John C. Reilly will be back, I’m assuming.
Oh, absolutely. We already have a story beated out — it’s just a question of whether we can write it in time and get it ready for a certain slot in the fall, and that sort of thing.
I think seeing you in two together in the Tim and Eric movie whet the appetite again.
I know! John’s the best and I love working with him. We’re dying to do something again together.
Casa de mi Padre is in theaters this week.
The Edinburgh Film Festival has come to a close and Rotten Tomatoes thought we’d make a traditional look back over all of the films playing at this year’s fest and present to you – in strictly alphabetical order – our 10 must-sees. As a public-facing festival, Edinburgh’s selection attempts to combine the accessible with the artistic, and delivers a collection of movies both diverse and outstanding. From spoof comedies to harsh drama, from in-depth documentaries to cutting-edge animation, Edinburgh dares to be different and programmes a festival that’s at turns youthful and experienced, offering movies for just about any cinemagoer imaginable. And for us, it’s two weeks of life in dark rooms — just how we like it.
Black Dynamite – Michael Jai White is silencing the jive talkers in this hilarious spoof of Blaxsploitation capers of the 70s. It really is the grindhouse that Grindhouse should have been, as White — the titular Black Dynamite — attempts to foil a plot to deal drugs to orphans that goes all the way to the White House. The jokes wear a little thin towards the end, but for the large part it’ll have you in stitches, and Jai White revels in the period humour as booms enter shots, actors miss cues and them poor orphans are all drugged up. – Joe Utichi
Find Out More
Le Donk – Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine are best known for their thoughtful, considered drama collaborations like Dead Man’s Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass, so news of a mockumentary shot in five days with Considine taking on the character of a Northern roadie called Le Donk was ever so slightly worrying. We needn’t have taken the time to fret, though, because the result is riotously hysterical, and Considine revels in creating a character so desperate for attention that you can’t help but fall in love with him. Le Donk is shifting gear for the Arctic Monkeys and brings along a documentary crew for the week while he tries to introduce the world to a rapping prodigy he’s discovered. Meadows’ forte is in finding real heart at the centre of any story, and that continues here, for while the journey is brilliantly funny, you also get a sense of the character as a human being. We want more. – JU
Exam – From Stuart Hazeldine, who’s already making Hollywood waves working with Alex Proyas and scripting Paradise Lost, Exam is a modest British sci-fi thriller set in one room as a group of candidates from all sorts of racial and social backgrounds compete for a mysterious job. A blank sheet of paper sits in front of them and they’re told to answer the question on it. Over 80 minutes of real time, we enjoy their interaction as they try to figure out their situation and work with and against one another. It’s the kind of small-scale/big-impact sci-fi flick we don’t see enough of these days and it’s simply gripping from start to finish. It transcends its modest budget to deliver a slickly shot and incredibly entertaining experience. Expect big things from Hazeldine, and cross fingers and toes that Exam finds a distributor willing to give it a big release – you won’t want to miss it. – JU
Find Out More
Fish Tank –
Red Road director Andrea Arnold proves she’s no one-trick pony with this stunning follow-up set on an Essex estate. Newcomer Katie Jarvis plays 15-year-old Mia, a would-be street dancer with a neglectful mother and a hilariously cheeky little sister. When charismatic Connor (Hunger’s Michael Fassbender) starts dating her mother, Mia’s world changes — but is it for the better? The ambiguity of their relationship drives both plot and characterisation forward in this beautifully observed, bitterly funny and utterly involving drama that marks Arnold as a true British talent. Watch out for a winning turn from up-and-comer Harry Treadaway, too. – Anna Smith
Find Out More
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism – It wouldn’t be right if a site about film critics didn’t include a documentary about film critics in its top 10. A critic himself, Gerald Peary goes on a journey of the American film writer, starting right at the beginning and presenting a detailed history of the art. Along the way, he gives faces to the faceless critics of newspapers, TV shows and websites and profiles them on what made them critics. Incredibly eye opening, and featuring contributions from the likes of Roger Ebert and Harry Knowles, it’s a documentary well worth watching. – JU
Humpday – Lynn Shelton‘s hilarious comedy is also the winner of our second Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award, and joins the powerful company of Let the Right One In. Mark Duplass and The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard star as a pair of straight friends for whom a drunken night turns into a harsh reality as they realise they’ve talked each other into having sex with one another for a local amateur art-porn festival. Deftly exploring masculinity and homosexuality as well as relationships both intimate and not, Shelton’s indie is a real treat. – JU
Find Out More
Mary and Max – This delightfully offbeat Australian stop-motion animation deserves to be a huge hit. Beautifully narrated by Barry Humphries, it tells the story of Mary Daisy Dinkle, a lonely Australian girl with a mother who spends all day “testing sherry” and a father who lives in his shed. After pulling a random address out of a New York phone box, Mary writes to Max Jerry Horovitz, an equally lonely middle-aged American. An unlikely pair of penpals is born as Mary and Max begin to share the intimate details of their lives. The animation is terrific, and the visual gags work just as hard as the verbal ones. Themes become darker as the film progresses, but Mary and Max never loses its sense of hope or Amelie-style charm. A must-see. – AS
Find Out More
Moon – Sam Rockwell stars in a futuristic sci-fi made by David Bowie’s son: what’s not to like? Turns out Duncan Jones (famously born Zowie Bowie) has inherited his father’s talent: this debut is an assured, inventive film that makes good use of its tiny cast. Rockwell is Sam Bell, an astronaut working solo on a space station on the Moon. It’s a lonely life, but his sentient computer Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) keeps him company and tends to his needs. Their odd couple friendship sets the film off to an amusing start, but events turn sinister when Sam discovers his doppleganger on the moon. All sorts of possibilities spring to mind — time travel, cloning, twins, the lot — in this intriguing thriller that pays tribute to cult sci-fis such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. – AS
Find Out More
Rudo and Cursi – Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are reunited on the big screen eight years after Y tu mama tambien introduced them to international audiences and made a hot name out of director Alfonso Cuaron. This time it’s his brother Carlos behind the camera (he scripted the previous film) but the chemistry is still there as the pair play brothers who are plucked out of the Mexican slums to become overnight soccer superstars. But the fun comes when the duo start enjoying their manic lives a little too readily and tensions start to form between them. – JU
Find Out More
The September Issue – No-one in the fashion world commands more fascination and influence than Anna Wintour. The feared editor of US Vogue was the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, yet the real woman has remained shrouded in mystery — until now. Filmmaker RJ Cutler follows Wintour from the office to fashion shows, shoots and meetings as she plans the September issue of Vogue. The result is a fascinating portrait of a blunt, decisive and ambitious woman. And when Wintour ruthlessly kills pages commissioned by creative director Grace Coddington, the dynamic between the two strong-willed women becomes the centrepiece of an increasingly revealing documentary. – AS
Find Out More
Diego Luna is bristling at RT’s suggestion he pick just five favourite films. “It’s really unfair to have to say only five films,” he complains as he picks his final choice. “This barely covers my life; I’m up to about the age of 16 by the end of the list!”
The 29-year-old has been acting since before 16 in his home country of Mexico, but burst onto the international stage aged 22 as part of the trio of leads in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y Tu Mama Tambien. That film marked his first collaboration with Gael Garcia Bernal (see his five favourites here), a partnership that continues – this time with Cuaron’s brother Carlos at the helm – with Rudo and Cursi, out now in UK cinemas.
Indeed, the Cuaron connection is another sticking point for Luna. “I’d also want to say that when I saw Children of Men, for me it wasn’t only a fantastic film, but it was an important film for me because not only do I know the guy but I’ve worked with him, collaborated with him. Every time I have something I show it to Alfonso and hear what he has to say. I’d actually say that film is, for me, the most important film today because it’s a relationship I’m still working on and learning from.”
But what of his final list? Read on to find out more.
“It’s so corny, but it was the first film I saw and the thing about the mother hit me really badly. I remember it was a good connection with my sister, who was fifteen years older. I was about 5 or 6.”
“I’m still kind of psychoanalysing myself but my first shock was with the relationship between the mother and then the father. To find out that your parents are not perfect and in fact they do behave sometimes like thieves to protect you, it was powerful.”
“Three Italians! I remember crying really badly with that when all the films in the projection room are on fire. I remember that also it was a film that when I was really young I could see myself reflected in the younger part of the film. And you can grow with the film, you know. When you become more mature you find a lot of sadness in the story of the old guy while he’s watching at the beginning and the end.”
“Still with the Italians, I’m sorry! With many things in life you’re there because there’s a cute girl around that you want to go out with and you end up finding magic. You end up not caring about the girl but wanting to stay there because of what you found. That happened with Amarcord to me. I really thought a lot about creating images and the connection that cinema had with theatre in a way. That film feels a little bit like theatre. I lived all my life watching theatre and it’s when I found the connection with what I was watching and could do in my life.”
“This was a really important movie for me as a teenager. It was a movie I could have fun with, that I thought was a piece of art and that I thought was doing something modern that had to do with my life. Cinema until then, the ones I really appreciated were done by guys that lived in a different reality from mine and were talking about something in the past that had connections with what I was living but I would have to make an effort to be part of the story and make it work for my reality. With the Coen brothers I thought I was looking at something which was an idea from the day before, you know, and also the commitment they had to their point of view was amazing. I felt excited and it was the perfect film to fall in love with when I was young.”
Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.
Gael Garcia Bernal may be Mexico’s best known acting export of recent years, having made a powerful debut in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Amores perros in 2000. A year later he co-starred with Diego Luna (read his five favourites here) in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y tu mama tambien. After a busy career which has seen him work with the likes of Pedro Almodovar, Michel Gondry and Fernando Meirelles, he reteams with Luna, and a different Cuaron — Carlos — for Rudo and Cursi.
Of his five favourite films, Bernal had an easier time picking them than his co-star — and curiously they’ve both chosen a Disney classic as their first choice — and told us, “These films are definitely a little glimpse on who I am. I could keep going forever to give the full picture. These reflect not only my life but also the work I do.”
“It was the first film I saw and through it I discovered cinema. Simple as that.”
“It was one of the most intense ways of getting into the adult world and I saw it when I was really young. I couldn’t believe that there were stories that were so close to reality. It felt like that, it felt very real.”
“It’s amazing. It’s a story about a family and the whole human drama is there. It’s fantastic.”
“I think that’s when I discovered that the juxtaposition of images is what cinema is all about.”
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful movie. A philosophical introspection on the nature of revolution and change and deciding to be on one side or the other. And it’s about how the outside world makes you decide how to step on one side or the other. It’s possibly one of the most eye-opening films i can ever recommend to anyone because it gives you a glimpse on an internal struggle.”
Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.
Brother of Children Of Men helmer Alfonso Cuaron and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of sizzling Mexican roadtripper Y Tu Mama Tambien, Carlos Cuaron makes his directorial debut with comedy drama Rudo and Cursi. He inked the script, too, which sees Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as rival siblings going head to head as professional footballers. Rudo is the tough-guy goalkeeper. Cursi is the happy-go-lucky goal-machine. Something has to give. Powered by their energetic performances, it’s spiky, frantic, funny and, according to Cuaron, nothing to do with football…
Carlos Cuaron: I cannot say they are the worst players… but they are not as good as Rudo and Cursi! We all play in the same Saturday league, although they don’t play that often because they’re always working or touring. They used to play in a team that I founded 23 years ago. We just have fun.
CC: It’s all scripted. There’s very little improv, because we didn’t need it. Maybe only two or three bits. I was looking for naturalness and the dynamic these two guys have together is just amazing.
CC: When I was writing the script, I knew didn’t want to make a sports movie. I was very clear that I wanted to make a sibling rivalry story. So when I was writing the script, the football was getting in the way of the drama. One day, I saw Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, which is probably the most violent film I’ve ever seen — but the violence is off camera. When I finished watching the film, I said, ‘Hey, that’s what I have to do.’ Haneke gave me this solution.
Gael Garcia Bernal in Rudo and Cursi
CC: Sports like baseball or baseball are easy to dramatise, because all of them have a pause and that helps with the tension. Football never stops. I’m a football fan. I believe in the beauty of the game. If you are a fan, you have two choices. Go to the stadium, where you see the whole beauty of it. Or stay at home, watch the beautiful moves on the slo-mo cameras. Don’t go to the cinema, because you won’t see it there.
CC: Exactly. The only moment football really stops is with a penalty kick — and that is a moment that is really dramatic. A penalty kick becomes a Western duel. It’s two guys facing each other. Destiny and potential death, whether metaphorical or literal. That’s why in the penalty kick at the end of the film, I shot it like an homage to the Sergio Leone Westerns I saw when I was a kid, especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.
CC: I think Children Of Men is just amazing. I’m not a Harry Potter fan but I enjoyed Azkaban. I did Y Tu Mama Tambien with him and I think it’s a beautiful movie. But when he says that A Little Princess is his most personal film, I know that it is. It was our first feature. Whenever we talk about it, I tell him, ‘We were so unconscious. We knew shit, man!’ I didn’t even know how scripts were written! I hope I could do that again. But how can you recapture that freshness? I think Francois Truffaut said that a director’s first film is his best because it is his purest. And that’s probably true.
CC: I have an agent in Hollywood and he’s looking for material. If I get the offer and I feel I relate to that material, I will do it. I would love to do a horror film, a thriller, a tearjerker… I like diversity. I would just like to sustain my sense of humour!
Rudo and Cursi is out in the UK today.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a brand new Enterprise (Star Trek, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto) and a failed delivery (Next Day Air, starring Donald Faison and Mike Epps). What do the critics have to say?
It boldly goes where no Trek has gone before. This new Trek will live long and prosper. No matter what clichés they may use, there’s no getting around the critics’ main point: JJ Abrams‘ Star Trek is stirring mainstream entertainment, and breathes new life into the moribund franchise. It’s an origin story, one that tells the tale of how Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) became, well, Kirk and Spock. The pundits say Abrams’ action-packed, visually remarkable take on such venerable material will reward both fans and newcomers alike, and sets an impressive new course for one of pop culture’s most enduring series. Not only is Star Trek Certified Fresh, it’s the best-reviewed wide release of the year. To top it all off, it’s the best-reviewed entry in the Star Trek franchise to date. (Be sure to check out Starfleet Command, RT’s one-stop shop for all things Trek. Also, see this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down all the previous Trek films by Tomatometer.)
Caper comedies walk a fine line; if you get too bogged down in the crime itself, the laughs can suffer. Such is the case with Next Day Air, which critics say has some moments of madcap intensity but falters from a lack of discipline. The movie stars Donald Faison as an inept deliveryman who unwittingly drops a large shipment of cocaine at the apartment of two incompetent bank robbers; pretty soon, in Tarantino-esque fashion, a number of colorful characters intersect with wacky results. Or not, say pundits, who find the film’s tonal shift from slapstick to surprisingly cold-hearted violence unpleasant.
Also opening this week in limited release: