A man chats up a woman on an airplane. A wild reverberation unfolds. A lone customer takes a seat at a restaurant. A wild justice is served. A minor jerk passes a major jerk on a highway. The wildness gets especially creepy. Three more of six entirely separate stories keep dishing it out in an Oscar-nominated foreign language film called “Wild Tales.”
If there is a common thread, it is something like streaming bizarre, perverse, disturbing fun in an imaginative storyteller’s variations on comeuppance. Each story teases its own flavors of violation.
Each one of these segments would be worthy of consideration in the Oscar category, “Best Short Film (Live Action).” From Argentina, writer/director Damián Szifrón demonstrates fresh ways to irk and tickle you. Don’t expect to feel comfortable much during this film’s two hours, but if you have room for creatively shaped movie violence in a crack between cartoony and too seriously real, see “Wild Tales.”
The first story -- the shortest – introduces the tone well. Its nightmare epiphany escalates almost gently toward inevitability. The second story locks your seat belt and makes you wonder what kind of amusement park ticket you’ve purchased. By the third story, you realize that Rod Serling has been reincarnated in a less constrained cinematic Twilight Zone.
The fourth segment builds and builds and builds by one slap after the next after the next. The fifth and most substantive segment examines tragedy in a wealthy household serviced by expensive lawyers. The final segment, bizarre in a sixth different way, virtually compresses an entire relationship into a tumultuous wedding reception.
Part of Szifrón’s cleverness plays with predictability. His twists and turns shrug at whatever you might figure out. Confident in his pacing and style and his characters, expectations remain off kilter. The satire includes collateral damage. Swallowing these six independent tales is part of the boldness that adventurous movie goers should go see.