Reviews by Ken Burke
While there’s no great thematic interconnection among the 3 current films I’ve chosen to focus on this week they have an interesting commonality to me about trying something off-kilter from either our time or an earlier one: The first to be explored, an Oscar nominee in the Foreign Language Film category, deals with stories of revenge and/or consequences that are presented in an hilarious manner but are uniformly disturbing in their contents; the second would seem to be embracing retrograde patriarchy but is packing the theaters with eager consumers, many of them the very children that are supposed to be indoctrinated along different lines of non-sexist-ideology; and the third is a documentary about one of the world’s great filmmakers although his working methods prevented him from finishing most of his projects as he envisioned them. With that “continuity” defense in mind, let’s see what we can find in this mini-cluster of celebrations of the unexpected.
Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ insightful reviews. Therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when you’re ready to be transported to … wherever we end up. Please protect your eyes from the dazzling brilliance.
(2) “The Rats” (“Las Ratas”)—On a rainy night at an empty diner, a customer (César Bordón) enters, making sarcastic or nasty comments to the waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) who recognizes him as a gangster from her hometown whose cruel actions caused her father to commit suicide and who tried to rape her mother; the cook (Rita Cortese) wants to feed him rat poison, the waitress objects but the cook secretly does it anyway. To confound the waitress’ confusion, the guy’s teenage son enters, starts to share the food, but she takes it away. Dad attacks her, then is stabbed repeatedly by the cook who has no hesitation about how to dispense justice and was once in prison with no regrets about going back. (3) “The Strongest” (“El más feurte”)—On a winding mountain road, Diego (Leonardo Sbaraglia) speeds along in his luxury car until he has trouble passing Mario (Walter Donato) in his old, beat-up rig; when Diego finally does get around he tosses insults while driving away. Later, though, Diego has a flat but before he can get the tires changed Mario catches up and begins smashing parts of Diego’s car before relieving himself on its windshield; Diego retaliates by pushing Mario’s car down a slope to the nearby river, then nearly drives off before coming back for a further attack. Ultimately, Mario’s car ends up down the
embankment also, with both men struggling in it before it catches fire, totally burning them both to bones and ashes; when investigators arrive they declare it “a crime of passion.” (4) “Little Bomb” (“Bombita”)—Simón Fisher (Ricardo Darín), a city demolition expert, stops on the way home to get a cake for his daughter’s birthday but finds his car’s been towed while he’s in the shop, so when he goes to retrieve it with the argument that there was no indication of a no-parking-zone he gets nowhere with the attendant. Later he complains to the city, demanding the fees be returned along with an apology, but the reply is that the ticket is all the evidence they need, no matter what he says. He smashes the clerk’s window in anger, is arrested, which leads to being fired even as his wife files for divorce and full custody of their child. His temper gets the better of him again while applying for another job, but even as he stalks out he finds his car towed once more (seemingly for no reason this time either), so after bailing it out he plants a bomb in the trunk which causes great damage to the tow lot when next it’s impounded. This leads to a prison sentence; however, Simón’s now a local hero, nicknamed “Dynamite,” with the story ending on a jail visit from the now-proud-wife-and-child. (5) “The Proposal” (“La Propuesta”)—Events unfold revealing that the son of a rich
family hit a pregnant woman with his car, then fled (her blood's still on the front license plate; both she and the baby died); the boy’s distraught but Dad Mauricio Pereyra Hamilton (Oscar Martínez)—shown in the photo with the next paragraph below—and his lawyer (Osmar Núñez) concoct a plan for the long-time-family gardener to take the rap for a payout; he agrees but then Mauricio finds that the lawyer wants a hefty fee to peddle this story, as does the prosecutor (Diego Velázquez) for going along with what he knows is a lie. The son wants to confess, Dad’s fed up with the greed of the others, but it all gets resolved when the “justice”-keepers agree to take smaller amounts, the story ending abruptly with the worker being hustled by police past scandal-hungry-reporters as the dead woman’s husband suddenly attacks him with a hammer. (6) “Until Death Do Us Part” (“Hasta que muerte nos separe”)—At a lavish wedding reception the new bride, Romina (Érica Rivas)—photo with the second paragraph below—discovers that her husband, Ariel (Diego Gentile), had an affair with an attractive co-worker whom he invited to the party; Romina’s devastated, leaves the event to go to the roof of the building, contemplating suicide, but she’s talked down by a cook from this hotel; when Ariel finds her she’s having sex with the cook, angrily tells her husband that his life is going to be a constant misery, then returns to the reception where she dances with the co-worker/former-mistress until they crash into a wall mirror, shattering it before Romina starts berating Ariel in front of everyone. However, he finally comes over to her, they reconcile while dancing, then fall onto the cake table to make love right there as the guests hurriedly leave them to their business.
*On a related box-office note, American Sniper (Clint Eastwood; review in our January 29, 2015 posting) has now become the top domestic money-earner of 2014 releases, finally beating out The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 (Francis Lawrence; review in our November 26, 2014 posting), even though we're now well in 2015, but the box-office-tabulators are now doing their tallies this way rather than limiting the calculations to the strict calendar year to track income.
of Orson Welles (Chuck Workman)
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