Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes): six short films about everyday people being pushed over the edge. Unlike most anthology movies, these are all done by the same director, which should give the segments more consistency than usual – right? Wrong! The six stories are all varying lengths, and wildly different in their tone, ‘enjoyability’, and humour. The shorter, punchier ideas are great but the longer ones in the second half all feel dragged out. With the throughline being ‘revenge’ they’re all quite dark with varying degrees of gallows / black humour. Stylistically though, they’re all meticulously directed, with dozens of striking and stand-out shots. The acting is also rock solid, with a lot of familiar faces from ‘World Cinema‘. It also walks a very tight line between reality and a tiny sprinkle of magic / surrealism – the obvious comparison being something like The Twilight Zone – but this doesn’t go near full on fiction. I really enjoyed the first half of this, but as the stories go forward, they get far too serious (and less funny). Overall, Wild Tales is a decent film with some great ideas, that suffers the same problem as most anthology pictures: the quality of each section is completely different.
Pasternak | The Rats | Road to Hell | Bombita | The Deal | Till Death Do Us Part
Neon Flesh (Carne de neón) [Minor spoilers]: a small-time pimp opens a brothel to impress his mum, unbeknownst to him juggling prostitutes, gangsters and his crazy friends isn’t that easy! From the first frame this stinks of the last 15 years of thugz ‘n’ drugz type geezer movies; a ton of characters introduced one by one with quick cuts, in-frame text and cheeky chappy explanatory narration… it never really aims higher than that. A major weakness is that – although there’s sometimes good intentions in the longer run – individual story elements include: selling a baby, a transvestite getting their meat shot off, buying and disciplining trafficked women, playing Alzheimer’s for laughs, animal porn, a random woman ending up in a porno… it makes the characters hard to like, and some situations difficult to watch. Although it’s not original, the film’s style is perhaps the biggest positive; fast cuts, punchy visuals, slick camerawork… it looks great. You can find a handful of standout performances by heavyweight actors that don’t deserve to be tucked away in a film this schloky – there’s also a few moments of solid drama in the final act, but by then it’s too late. The major downfall with Neon Flesh is the juxtaposed premise: a ‘slapstick comedy/crime caper set in a whorehouse‘. Trying to juggle the upbeat tone and loaded subject matter is too big a task for the director – and although I can usually see through gratuitous violence, smut, and bad taste – this one really goes to town.