Wild Tales (Argentina 2014) – Damián Szifron

Wild Tales

Recently we discussed an Argentine movie called The Secret in their Eyes which won best foreign film at the 2010 Academy awards. Today we jump forward to look at an other Argentine movie which was shortlisted / nominated for the Academy Awards in 2014. Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) is a an Argentine / Spanish black comedy anthology film composed of six standalone shorts, all written and directed by Damián Szifron, united by a common theme of violence and vengeance.

Each unconnected story which runs between 20 and 30 minutes duration is captivating from start to finish. If you hold a short attention span in movies and want things to just happen ‘already’, then Wild Tales should hit all the right buttons. It’s a smorgasbord of events where due to unforeseen circumstances people find themselves at their wits end or in their most desperate hour. What sets Wild Tales apart is the originality of each story concept and none of them are the least bit predictable in how they will turn out. Despite their darkness you cannot help but be entertained by the comical undertone of each extraordinary circumstance. Below is a short plot description of three of the stories taken from the IMDB Storyline:

 (2) “The Rats”: A waitress recognizes her client – it’s the loan shark who caused a tragedy in her family. The cook suggests mixing rat poison with his food, but the waitress refuses. The stubborn cook, however, decides to proceed with her plan. (3) “The Strongest”: Two drivers on a lone highway have an argument with tragic consequences. (4) “Little Bomb”: A demolition engineer has his car towed by a truck for parking in a wrong place and he has an argument with the employee of the towing company. This event destroys his private and professional life, and he plots revenge against the corrupt towing company and the city hall.

I wouldn’t say this is a philosophical film, but it is clever entertainment, that makes you think if these wild tales are actually that wild. Even though these stories are taken to the extreme, everything feels somehow possible when you look back. I would class Wild Tales as a modern cinema classic. The acting and writing in this gem from Argentina are superb, and the beautifully photographed segments keep you thrilled and unable to guess just what crazy turn they will take next. A wonderful joy of a film for film lovers with a rather twisted sense of humor.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
15 comments on “Wild Tales (Argentina 2014) – Damián Szifron
  1. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Oh my god, this sounds great. Those are just my kinds of stories! I’m definitely gonna go after this one.
    Holy cow, I’m so behind in the blogosphere. I’ve got a lot of reading to do but really need to pick and choose ’cause I’ll never get anything else done, let alone any writing!!!

    I remember seeing a movie like this in French, a bunch of vignettes, and it was really great. I think I liked every single one of the stories. Can’t remember the title. But I remember in one story a man is about to tell his wife he wants a divorce. She has news too so he lets her go first and she tells him she went to the doctor and has been diagnosed with cancer. So he DOESN’T tell her his decision, dumps his mistress, and starts caring for his wife as she gets progressively sicker, falling in love with her all over again as he does so. It was very touching, although I’m not sure I could see that actually ever really happening. I like to think it would/does, but……I don’t know. 🙂

    • Hey Stacey!. I’m certain you would get a real kick out of ‘Wild Tales’ and I’d be surprised if your husband didn’t like them as well, if he can put up with subtitles. They are all excellent, but the vignette about a road rage incident on a desolate road is one of the most genuinely terrifying things I’ve seen, but it’s also obscenely humorous. I haven’t seen anything quite like it before in film or tv.

      The French story you recounted sounds lovely. I can assure you you there is nothing in Wild Tales quite ‘touching’, although the final vignette where the bride at her own wedding reception comes to realise over the course of the evening that the groom has been having an affair with a a fellow guest ironically ends on an optimistic note. Haha

  2. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Eeeek! The road rage thing is already piquing my interest, ’cause I battle every day on my way to work against road rage. Which is very sad, considering it only takes me about 25 minutes to get to work. The people who have to get on the freeway and drive over an hour each way–THEY deserve the rage, not me! Anyway, I’m just imagining the story and how much I’ll probably relate to it.

    • I’ve heard the traffic in Cali (LA) can be hellish. I doubt it’s worse than Bogota, although thankfully the public transport system here is really good because they have dedicated lane-ways.

      My old man drove 2 hours to an from work everyday for over 10 years. 25 minutes – You’re laughing! I don’t know how he did it and not lose his mind.

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    I don’t know how ANYBODY does it. You just have to go into a fugue state, I guess…..
    I had to commute pretty far once, years ago, from Santa Monica on the coast into Hollywood. That’s where I had several instances of road rage over those three years. Luckily I never had to commute like that again after that. SO lucky !!!

    • I imagine it’s easier these days because we have podcasts and audio books which can maintain our interest in long commuting spells. Although back then they still had radio and music cassettes lol
      I was always very fortunate that I did not have to commute far. Most times up to 5 minutes to get to work, since I lived on the military base.
      To me driving from ‘Santa Monica on the coast into Hollywood’ sounds like an exotic expedition because of the images I have my head from the movies etc. Excuse my naivety. lol

  4. selizabryangmailcom says:

    If only it was an exotic expedition, ha ha. I know what you mean about movies, though. I grew up watching Miracle on 34th Street and Annie Hall and Midnight Cowboy and Dog Day Afternoon and had all those images in my head when I moved there in the ’80s. And actually, they weren’t that far off from reality. So your images of the ocean and palm trees and people in shorts and maybe glitzy cars and Hollywod & Vine with maybe a few hookers thrown in wouldn’t be that far off either, lol!

    • Those are all fantastic movies. I suppose the most recent images I have of that area specifically are from the Larry David HBO series ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. That show in many ways is a great sightseeing expose into at least the rich and ‘well to do’ parts of those areas of California. I almost feel I have been there because of that show.

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:

    LOVE Curb Your Enthusiasm. And it was a very good indicator of the well to do areas of L.A.

  6. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Haha, are you kidding? Larry David was the most likeable a-hole ever, right? It was like a love/hate thing with his character. Such a jerk at times, but SO funny. It was like Seinfeld but I could overlook the fact that everyone more or less was white in Curb because parts of Los Angeles ARE like that, especially more upscale areas, whereas it irked to no end that almost everyone in Seinfeld was white, too, but that’s just not a realistic scenario for NYC, even in upscale areas. It was pure fantasy and *wish* fulfillment. The race thing shouldn’t be on one’s mind all the time when one is simply trying to be entertained, but it worms its way in and becomes a thorn when it’s as silly as Seinfeld or Friends or Mad About You. It starts to undermine the enjoyment in a way when one is constantly reminded, on a subconscious level: this is who we WANT to see, so we’ll just pretend none of you others are around and just show THESE faces, ’cause they’re more acceptable, even though New York is MOSTLY made up of ethnic people, and not the other way around.

    But beyond the whole race issue (which I realize is not an issue for everyone) Larry David was hilarious and I loved him. He was both oblivious and sensitive at the same time, humorously neurotic. That’s one show we didn’t get to caption and I wish we had!

    • I’ve heard that complaint made before about Seinfeld. Seinfeld did an episode about how they were not sufficiently engaged in the African American community. George tried to befriend an Negro man, but of course George made a doofus of himself trying too hard. They had their own little niche group happening. If you mean in the general cast of the show that it didn’t represent the ethnic diversity of NY, then perhaps you have a point. But what I would hate to see happen are ‘quotas’ enforced to reflect an ‘equal outcome’ aim. Equal opportunity for sure, but ‘equal outcome’ policies I do not agree with.
      Yes, I go on Larry David binges every once in a while. He’s a comedy genius.

  7. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Yeah, no, quotas are bad bad bad. I agree. Let me see if I can make myself clearer without boring you to tears……:)
    The specific cast of Seinfeld was fine. So I guess it’s like you said: the general cast. People living in NYC just would NOT 98% of the time only run into, deal with, come across only white people. So in the case of Seinfeld and the other shows I mentioned, it was just a fantasy that 98% of their dealings in a city like NYC was with white people only.
    And like I said, with Curb Your Enthusiasm, white people ARE enclaved together in certain areas so it’s not a ridiculous representation like the other shows. Does that make sense?

    In the end, though, it’s just entertainment. One can take it or leave it, and my observations sort of mean very little because I did go through the entire ’90s watching Seinfeld and enjoying it, so to complain after the fact is a little disingenuous, I guess. That’s what the ’90s were about and things are changing now, so that’s what I should be focused on.
    It’s like that famous song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Have you heard what’s been going on with that?! Same argument! My advice to those who are “offended” or “triggered” by an innocuous song that’s over 50 years old–don’t listen to it ! ! !

    BTW, personally, I thought George was the funniest character on Seinfeld.
    And Larry David IS a comedy genius, and I miss him.

    • I remember lots of different ethnicities in the show such as Asians, Latinos, African Americans, Italians and Indigenous (Indians). But you would have a better idea if it reflected reality or not.

      No, I haven’t heard what’s going on with that show.

      I think Larry is currently working on Season 10 unless I’m mistaken. Cheers Stacey.

  8. selizabryangmailcom says:

    I understand what you’re saying, Matthew. Maybe there were even more represented than I remember. I’ll leave it there, ’cause everyone had fun, and that’s all that matters, especially now, years later, right? Everyone’s perceptions are different, and this isn’t a topic where my observations need to be pushed ’cause it was just a sit-com.

    I had to go look up the Larry David thing–I had no idea they were doing more. That’s super fantastic.

    Oh, as for the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” (not a show) here’s a scene from a movie where they’re singing it. You’ll probably recognize it once you hear it:

    So the thing about the song lyrics–SJW find the lyrics “rapey” and John Legend just did a version with someone where he actually rewrote the lyrics, like one of them is now “It’s your body, your choice.”
    I think that’s pretty close to crazy and that’s why I backed off my Seinfeld thing, ’cause I really really don’t want to come off as that fanatical! I’m not. Just have my eyes open. 🙂

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