Thursday, March 12, 2015

'Wild Tales' lives up to its name

An Argentine film that's wildly entertaining -- and revealing, too
In the Argentine movie Wild Tales, director Damian Szifron gives us five stories that leap off the screen, each energized by emotions that spin madly out of control.

Most of Szifron's stories hinge on revenge, and each has an explosive quality that emerges when characters are pushed beyond their limits. It should give you a clue about the spirit of the enterprise to know that it was co-produced by Pedro Almodovar, a Spanish director who's no stranger to movies that walk on the wild side.

A quick look at the five short films that together constitute Wild Tales:

-- An unsuspecting waitress finds herself face-to-face with the gangster who drove her father to suicide.

-- The driver of an expensive car casually flips off the driver of a dilapidated vehicle on a deserted country road. Violence and chaos ensue.

-- A rich man finagles to get his irresponsible son off the hook after the young man is involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

-- A demolition engineer's life crumbles as a result of having his car repeatedly towed.

-- A bride learns that her new husband had an affair with a co-worker who's at the couple's wedding reception.

All of this is preceded by a prologue that takes place on an airplane and is better appreciated by those who know nothing more about it.

Wild Tales, which lost its bid for best foreign-language film at the recent Oscars, easily could have been another gimmick film, but Szifron uses each episode to reveal something about the society in which his characters are floundering.

The concluding film, as I mentioned, centers on a bride (Erica Rivas) who turns her wedding into a scene of total mayhem. To call it the "wedding from hell" would be to indulge in euphemism.

Suffice it to say that like most of the other components of Wild Tales, the wedding reception can be watched with gape-jawed amazement as Szifron puts his characters in a pressure cooker and fiendishly turns up the heat.

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