on the actor's trail

Can Gael Garcia Bernal be praised enough?

The actor’s performances in the TV series ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ and the biopic ‘Neruda’ offer the latest evidence of his bottomless talent.

Some films and actors shake things up, challenging the status quo and choosing to tell stories that resonate with the world no matter where they are set. The work of Mexican actor, director and producer Gael Garcia Bernal falls into this space.

The Mexican film industry fell into a lull between the 1970s and the ’90s. But in the early 2000s, things started to change. A wave of revival helped create some of the most important films of our time, and Bernal is inseparably linked to this movement.

The road from this revival to the recent Golden Globe nominations for his role in the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle and Pablo Larrain’s biopic Neruda has been paved by many daring and flawless performances.

Bernal made his feature film debut after appearing in television soaps in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Amores Perros (2000). Amores Perros has three interconnected stories, all set into motion by a terrible road accident. It remains one of Bernal’s most impressive performances.

Play
Amores Perros (2000).

Amores Perros was followed by one of the most successful Mexican movies of all time. Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) is a story of sexual discovery and self-exploration on a picturesque road trip across Mexico. The movie follows two sexually excited teenagers (Bernal as Julio and Diego Luna as his friend, Tenoch) and their fateful encounter with the older Luisa (Maribel Verdu). The plot is punctuated by a voiceover about racial and economic disparities that afflicts the country. Mexico is a character and the context. It is going through the motions with these eager teenagers, and getting older and wiser with each new bump in the road.

Play
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001).

Growing up in a politically volatile country to politically active actor parents, Bernal was aware of and involved with the world around him. His concern with the social and political situation and history of Latin America is evident in his work.

With Walter Salles’s The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), Bernal acquainted himself with the continent beyond Mexico and explored the depth of his craft. Based on the diaries of Che Guevara, the movie sees Bernal portraying the confusion, disappointment and anger of one of the most iconic images of rebellion in the world.

In an interview with David Frost in 2013, Bernal cited this experience as one of the most rewarding ones in his career.

Play
David Frost interviews Gael Garcia Bernal.

Bernal gave one of his most powerful performances in Pedro Almodovar’s Bad Education (2004). As the wannabe actor Ignacio/Angel, the charismatic and gorgeous transvestite Zahara, and the manipulative Juan, Bernal channeled three distinct characters in a heartbreaking story about love, loss, abuse and sexuality. The movie is set in Spain, and as with most of his other roles, Bernal fits in perfectly, adjusting the delicate nuances of the accent and mannerisms for the part.

He pulled off the same feat for Jon Stewart’s Rosewater (2014). Bernal flawlessly plays Maziar Bahari, the Canadian-Iranian journalist who was kept in solitary confinement and tortured for bearing witness to state-sponsored crimes during the 2009 Presidential election in Iran.

Play
Bad Education (2004).

Bernal teamed up with Chilean director Pablo Larrain for the first time in the Oscar-nominated drama No in 2012. Set in 1988, the movie follows a fictional advertising campaign that leads to the defeat of military dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1988 referendum. As advertising executive Rene, Bernal sells the idea of happiness to a country fraught with poverty and repression.

Play
No (2012).

In 2016, Bernal and Larrain reunited for an ambitious anti-biopic of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The stylised period drama, set in the late 1940s, finds the Communist poet (played by Luis Gnecco) on the run. Bernal is fictional inspector Oscar Peluchonneau who chases Neruda across the country. The movie is equal parts noir, thriller and fantasy, and bridges the chasm between poetry and politics, history and legend. Bernal treads this tricky path brilliantly, haunted by and obsessed with the elusive poet.

Play
Neruda (2016).

Bernal does whimsical well too. In Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep (2006), Bernal is Stephane Miroux, a creative illustrator and inventor who has a hard time differentiating reality from his hyper-colourful and eccentric fantasies. His dreams take shape in a production set made of cardboard, with multiple cameras and screens. The character include his parents, colleagues, neighbor Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and a man-eating electric razor. Bernal is perfectly at home in a pastiche of stop motion, paper-cut animation and over-the-top sets and props, stuck in a space between his dazed dreams and reality.

The Science of Sleep (2006).
The Science of Sleep (2006).

Bernal won his first Golden Globe for the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle in 2016. As the conductor of a fictional New York Symphony Orchestra, Bernal’s Rodrigo de Souza injects energy into the cold and rigid world of classical music. He takes risks with impunity and spurns authority. Bernal has conversations with a young Mozart, his foremost maestro and spiritual guide, and bunks fundraising events to celebrate the birthday of his driver’s sister. The show has spectacular concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, operas in Venice and a massive orchestra, but Bernal is undoubtedly the star.

Play
Mozart in the Jungle (2016).

With movies like Iñárritu’s multi-starrer Babel (2006) and Jonas Cuaron’s thriller Desertio (2016), Bernal is becoming a Hollywood fixture. He is one of the presenters of the Academy Awards in 2017. He will also play the successor to Antonio Banderas’s Zorro in Cuarón’s futuristic reboot of the 1998 movie The Mask of Zorro.

Despite being at home in the world, Bernal prefers to stay rooted in Mexico City, where he runs the production company Canana Films with his friend and long-time collaborator Diego Luna. The company makes and distributes films about social and political issues. Bernal and Luna are trying to make the world a better and more empowered place – one incredible movie at a time.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.

Play

To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.