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Film Review

Wild Tales

So many good films have come out of Argentina in the past few years, such as The Official Story (1985) and The Secret in Their Eyes (2009). Both won Oscars for best foreign language films. Both films used the sad story of Argentina's Dirty War (1976-1983) as a source for their powerful stories. A new era, in every sense, started after the end of the military dictatorships in 1983, which paved the way for a resurgence of the Argentinian film industry.

Damian Szifron, a young (b 1975) Argentine screen writer and director, has just completed a fascinating series of six short films, linked by the theme of revenge. Wild Tales, which are wild in every sense, are fast paced looks at the often shocking behavior of men and women who feel they have been wronged. The first, Pasternak, is set aboard an airliner, as some of the passengers discover they have something in common. The second, The Rats, shows a waitress in a diner who recognizes a customer who did her family harm. The Road to Hell depicts the encounter of two men driving down the highway, one in a new Audi, and the other in an old car whose driver deliberately prevents the Audi from passing. We see some Argentinian road rage which puts ours to shame. Then Bombita, the tale of a demolitions expert who thinks his car has been unjustly towed and becomes furious at the towing system. We can all sympathize with him. The Deal tells the story of a young man from a wealthy family who hits someone while drunk driving. Probably the most disturbing story but riveting. The final story is Til Death Do Us Part, which takes place during a fancy wedding at which the bride makes an unfortunate discovery.

All of the stories are well written and acted, and all with very unexpected twists. Most have constant tension even with considerable black humor. No one will complain about the pacing here. Further, they are all so inventive and accomplished that it is clear why Argentina selected Wild Tales for its Oscar submission. It made the final cut to five films, but lost to Ida (Poland). Just opened at Opera Plaza and the Rafael. Screening time: 114 minutes. Leaving for a 5 week road trip in Vietnam and Cambodia, so this will be my last review for a few months.

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