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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

RELATOS SALVAJES / WILD TALES (2014)

Oscar® nom’d six-pack pic from Argentina has five bleakly comic, easily digested tales of revenge, plus one furious social farce that leaves the rest behind. The first four revenge tales are near blackout sketches of various lengths, neatly played, if a bit familiar; enjoyable in spite of director Damián Szifrón’s predilection for gimmicky POV camera placement. Recent real life events have unavoidably curdled the first story (about a defeated man who uses an airplane for suicide/revenge), but the next three make their mark: Delayed justice at a roadside diner; Rich man/ Poor man road rage; and a successful engineer whose life spins out of control after his car gets towed for illegal parking. (That fourth one yet another iteration of the old ‘Pay the Two Dollars’ skit.) But stakes get raised in the fifth story, the only one that isn't really a revenge story, but a parable on social injustice that sees personal & civic corruption, class division and the art of the deal played out to help a rich man’s son get away with vehicular manslaughter. A near perfect half-hour, unfortunately followed by the seriously miscalculated tale of a blowout Jewish wedding where the bride takes revenge on her unfaithful groom. Meant as a hoot, it falls flat on its face . . . as do the bride & groom. Stick to stories 2 thru 5.

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