Damián Szifrón’s “Wild Tales”

wild-tales“Y’all gon’ make me lose my mind
Up in here, up in here
Y’all gon’ make me go all out
Up in here, up in here
Y’all gon’ make me act a FOOL
Up in HERE, up in here
Y’all gon’ make me lose my cool
Up in here, up in here” – DMX

Were it not for my irrational expectation of wanting to hear rapper DMX‘s 2000 hit “Party Up (Up in Here)” play over the closing credits I would say Damián Szifrón‘s Wild Tales is a perfect film.

Made up of six short installments, Szifrón indulges us in a darkly comedic guilty pleasurable world of characters who when given the frustratingly short end of life’s stick have chosen to erupt, rather than implode. Immersing myself in such a world was never a problem, with the result being quite a cathartic one. I mean, how many times have you ever walked away from a situation in where you were wronged thinking, if only I had the guts to do (insert extreme and illegal course of action here) instead? It is through this film that you, the law-abiding audience member that you are (hopefully), are able to vicariously experience that fantastically sweet satisfaction of righting all the wrongs that those who play by the rules have ever been subjected to.

Now, if your experience with anthology films is anything like mine than you too have come to expect at least one of the segments to be piss poor. Rarely, and I do mean rarely, do I walk away from a compilation of shorts thinking all the segments were great. Just by the very act of having a collection of short films play back-to-back under the title of a single narrative (be it a thematic one) almost always warrants comparison amongst the segments, fair or as unfair as that may be. Well, not so is the case with Wild Tales. Here, unlike other thematically tied together features, there is not one dull segment to be had. Part of this reason has to do with the confident directing and exciting writing of Szifrón, the choice visual palette of cinematographer Javier Julie (those familiar with The Last Elvis from 2012 will know what I mean), and having a cast of strong actors (seriously, not a weak one in the bunch), but the main reason for the films ever present exciting tone derives from its choice to focus each short on the tipping point of each of its protagonists – that moment of the tea kettle screaming out, if you will.

While I can’t recommend this film to everyone, especially those skittish of violence, blood, and following protagonists who exhibit bad behavior, I will say that if you are a fan of the dark humorous tones found in Falling Down (1993), and Sightseers (2012) then you will be right at home with this one. My only advise to those wanting to see this film, prior to the start of the film cue up DMX’s “Party Up (Up in Here)” on your ipod, discman, walkman, or whatever listening device you choose to use, and hit play the second the closing credits appear.

Wild Tales opens in San Francisco on Friday, March 6th at Clay Theatre, and in San Rafael at the Smith Rafael Film Center.

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