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Wild Tales: Business and Pleasure

Wild Tales: Business and Pleasure

Argentina was the only Latin American country to have a film in the Official Competition in the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, eligible for the Palme d’Or.
In the press conference announcing the selection, Thierry Fremaux, General Delegate of the festival, described it as “a surreal and controversial film
which looks set to divide the waters in Cannes.” It also played Toronto and Telluride. It is the official selection of Argentina for consideration for the
Academy Award Competition for Best Foreign Language Film.

It is a production of Argentina’s Kramer & Sigman Films and Spain’s El Deseo (Almodóvar’s production company), co-produced by Telefe, Argentina’s
federal television station. It was written and directed by Damian Szifrón and stars Ricardo Darin, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Erica Rivas, Oscar Martínez, Darío
Grandinetti, Rita Cortese and Julieta Zylberberg, In Argentina, it grossed $17.2 million through November 2 thus helping to push Argentina’s 2014 local
film market share toward 16%-17%, according to Lucrecia Cardoso, President of Argentina’s national film body INCAA.

It is being sold internationally by Film Factory. At its entry into the marketplace at AFM in 2013, it presold to Greece –Spentzos Film Sa, So. Korea –Doki Entertainment, Taiwan –Creative Century Entertainment Co., Ltd., Latin America –Palmera International, and for parts of Europe to Warner Bros. Entertainment Europe.

In Cannes it sold to Sony Pictures Classics for No. America; Warner Bros picked up French rights and Cinéart took Benelux rights. Since then it has also sold to Mozinet for Hungary,Prokino Filmverleih for Germany, Lucky Red for Italy and Gutek Film
for Poland. As of press time, it has also sold to Metropole and Mongrel for Canada, Lev Films (Shani) for Israel, Actonfilm for Norway, Pris Audiovisuais
for Portugal, Cinema Prestige for Russia and Artificial Eye for U.K.

“Wild Tales”
is structured in six stories of different genres. As the first story opens, the mark of Almovodor is very strong and recognizable as the characters,
passengers of an airplane, discover the most outrageous coincidences as they discuss events they were part of with one specific (and the same) individual.
The absurdities of civilized conversation of this segment become increasingly degraded and the ending story takes the audience on a wildly Bunuel-escapade
at what is described as a Jewish Wedding. Told with such an accelerated glee, the humor of the tales is finally accepted with joy, though getting to that
point only comes after some equally grueling nightmarish stories of macho madness – but oh so wickedly funny!

Perhaps more aptly titled, Savage Tales, the people in these short stories are not like wild animals as much as they are like savages in
the most primitive and barbaric ways. The thin veneer of civilization quickly cracks under the pressures of the worst aspects of modern existence today in
our super capitalistic societies. The inner reserves of patience and perseverance have been depleted.

We recognize ourselves in these tales and want to hide our eyes as our own savage selves are revealed. Damian Szifron’s own statement on the film attests
to this.

He says,

“These tales spring from the most unrestrained corners of the imagination. While I was working to develop other projects – often dispirited by the fact that
they were impossible to realize – I began writing a series of short stories to vent my frustrations. When I put them together in one volume, I realized
that they were connected by a series of themes that provided unity and coherence: They were all about catharsis, vengeance and destruction. And the
undeniable pleasure of losing control.

I frequently think of Western capitalist society as a sort of transparent cage that reduces our sensitivity and distorts our bonds with others. “Wild
Tales” presents a group of individuals who live within this cage without being aware of its existence. But at that point where most of us would repress –
or get depressed – these people shift into gear.”

I watched this with a friend (Tara Fass who blogs for Huffington Post) and am hereby stealing
her very apt observation, that all theses stories are told “from within”. Not only are the settings “from within”: “Pasternak” is in an airplane, “The
Rats” within a kitchen which is within a restaurant, “Road to Hell” within a car, “Bombita” is an exception, although it ends within a prison, “The Deal” I
have already forgotten, and “Til Death Do Us Part” takes place within a wedding hall except when the bride escapes to the roof. On a parallel track, they
take place from within the psyche and burst forth explosively into the reality of existence. Sometimes horrifying and sometimes hilarious and always the
dark human element gaining the upper hand, this is a movie about people experiencing a reality as it shifts and becomes unpredictable causing them to cross
the thin line dividing civilization and barbarism. Everyday encounters drive these characters to madness as they cede to the undeniable pleasure of losing
control.

Will it get the Academy Award? No, and I predict it will not be nominated either because it does not fit the “Academy” tastes for serious drama, and the
format is less appealing than a full blown feature film that satisfies the arc of characters and plot. But it is an unforgettable experience which I hope
many people will pay to see. It reminds me of “Divorce Italiian Style”. This is a wild ride, an excruciatingly delectable trip.

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