'Wild Tales': Damián Szifrón’s Oscar-nominated movie is provocative, violent, daring

Violence has been a subject drilled into film study since a bandit first aimed his pistol directly at the camera in 1903’s The Great Train Robbery. Fast-forward more than a century, and the Oscar-nominated film Wild Tales is having its way with the Enzian, ejaculating all of its violent and gleefully guile ways across Central Florida’s eyeballs. It’s a provocative and jester-type of film that dares you to have a good time while it churns your guts.

Argentinian filmmaker Damián Szifrón’s film poses the idea that all of us – each and every slimy, well-ironed-Lynx-roaming one of us – has a propensity for violence. We can pretend we don’t, but we do. Not only do we want violence in its purest form, but we want REVENGE, in its most nasty and cathartic form. Act like you don’t.

Wild Tales came as a huge surprise for audiences last year, as it ravaged art houses and demanded to be taken seriously in the United States. Its acceptance was an easy one. Szifrón has crafted an incredibly assured anthology film, a solo presentation that takes great skill. In Wild Tales he presents six stories and not once does he leave you unsatisfied or unfulfilled. This is a master craftsman presenting a confident vision of revenge and primal anger that ranges from playful to disturbing. So what I’m saying is, you won’t walk out of Wild Tales feeling ripped off.

The pre-credits story is simply one of the sharpest and most daring “fuck yous” to Hollywood I can think of in recent memory. It sets the tone for Szifrón’s dark drama while also acting as a stunningly well-crafted chamber piece. From there, Wild Tales energetically presents stories of indecency, righteous morality, and primal human nature at its most heinous and glorious.

The miraculous thing is that any of these stories could be separated from the whole and still be better than most Hollywood films. It’s a literal barrage of entertainment. But when you put them together, the film is a startlingly impressive vision of human frailty, shittiness and hypocrisy. It uses the basic instincts of vengeance and dick-punching to craft a drama that should be taken seriously, by all humans.

Wild Tales plays at the Enzian Theater through April 9.  
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