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Wild Tales

22 Feb

Six seemingly disparate stories—ranging from the quirky to the macabre—unfold with plenty of punch and panache in Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales, an old-school anthology film laced with biting social commentary about Argentinean class and how one’s sense of justice plays into where one’s lot has fallen in life. Equal partsAmazing Stories, Creepshow, O. Henry and Almodóvar (who both produced and brought the film to an international audience), Wild Tales was a big pleaser at Cannes, recently opened the 38th Annual Portland International Film Festival and may win a Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2015 Academy Awards, to name but a few accomplishments. Seems like people the world over are finding a lot to identify with.

The more-than-appropriate title (Relatos Salvajes in Spanish) might be a bit on the obvious side—and just in case you’re not getting Szifrón’s broad picture, the film’s opening credit sequence serves up image after image of sinister-looking beasts in their unwelcoming habitats, like a PowerPoint slideshow set against Gustavo Santaolalla’s lilting, slightly menacing score. The most wickedly outrageous vignette comes even before the opening credits roll: a music critic (Darío Grandinetti) on an airplane realizes the woman in the seat next to him (María Marull) is the ex-girlfriend of an aspiring musician he once panned. The six degrees of separation don’t end there, or even in that row, leading to a collective gasp among passengers as each person begins to understand their fated place on the plane. This short story, coupled with the credits, form a striking opening sequence, an appropriate preparation for the sometimes overt but nonetheless entertaining yarns to follow, in which Szifrón peruses human animalism in its many dire colors.  Continue reading