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Wild Tales Blu-ray Review

Wild Tales (2014-15) movie poster Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes)

US Theatrical Release: February 20, 2015 (Argentina: August 21, 2014) / Running Time: 122 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Damián Szifrón

Cast: Ricardo Darín (Simón Fischer), Oscar Martínez (Mauricio Pereyra Hamilton), Leonardo Sbaraglia (Diego Iturralde), Érica Rivas (Romina), Rita Cortese (Cook), Julieta Zylberberg (Waitress), Darío Grandinetti (Salgado), María Onetto (Helena Pereyra Hamilton), Nancy Dupláa (Victoria Malamud), Osmar Núńez (Lawyer), César Bordón (Rafael Cuenca), Diego Gentile (Ariel), María Marull (Isabel), Germán de Silva (Groundskeeper José), Diego Velázquez (Prosecutor), Walter Donado (Mario)

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Wild Tales, Argentina's nominee for the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar,
is an anthology feature comprised of six shorts written and directed by Damián Szifrón. The segments vary greatly in length and content, though most of them involve revenge and people of wealth and privilege.

The film opens with a catwalk fashion model and a classical music critic making small talk in their neighboring aisle seats on a plane. They are surprised to learn they have a mutual acquaintance. The model's ex-boyfriend is Gabriel Pasternak, whom the critic remembers for the infamous submission he brutally tore down on an academic jury. Overhearing, a woman acknowledges she taught the same Gabriel Pasternak when he was in school. Soon, everyone on the plane realizes they all have known this Gabriel Pasternak and the mysterious nature of this all-expenses paid flight becomes disturbingly clear.

Passengers on a plane figure out what they all have in common in the prologue of "Wild Tales."

In the second short, on a rainy night, a restaurant waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) recognizes her one patron as the gangster who drove her father to suicide and shortly thereafter tried to seduce her mother. As obnoxious as ever, he's now running for mayor and upon hearing about him, the joint's chef (Rita Cortese) implores the waitress to serve him rat poison along with his ordered meal of fried eggs and french fries.

The third sequence sees a man in a shiny new Audi getting irritated by a man in a rusty junker who won't let him pass. Eventually getting by with some unkind words, the man in the Audi ends up getting stuck in the desert with a flat tire. When the "redneck" catches up to him, there are some lingering feelings of hostility that escalate.

In the fourth short, demolitions engineer Simón Fischer (Ricardo Darín) has his car towed while he is picking up his daughter's birthday cake. Rather than just accepting his fate, Simon takes a moral stand and fights it, arguing without doubt that the curb was not painted yellow to indicate a No Parking zone. His resistance costs him his wife, custody of their child, and his job, but his explosive plan for vindication turns him into an icon nicknamed Dynamite.

Romina (Érica Rivas) is driven into a blind rage at her wedding in the final segment of "Wild Tales."

The fifth segment involves a teenager who was involved in a hit and run accident that took the lives of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
The boy's wealthy father (Oscar Martínez) hatches a plan to pay his longtime groundskeeper $500,000 to take the blame for the accident and serve what he insists will only be a 1˝-year prison sentence with his lawyer defending. The plan hits a hitch when the prosecutor, the lawyer, and the groundskeeper all push the wealthy father into a negotiation phase.

Last and by far least is the story of a couple undone at their expensive, happening wedding. The bride (Érica Rivas) gets angry when she accuses her groom of cheating on her with an attractive wedding guest. Then, she gets even in a reception that soon goes off the rails.

Despite the low note that sixth sequence ends on, Wild Tales is a creative and enjoyable experience. The film efficiently presents these disparate vignettes of morality, violence, and retribution. Szifrón, who will turn 40 this summer, has been working steadily in Argentine television since the early 2000s. Wild Tales is only his third theatrical feature as writer-director and his first in nearly a decade.

Running a gamut from amusing to chilling, this anthology is dynamic enough that you just knew Hollywood would come calling. And it already has! Szifrón has been hired to make his English language writing debut: a screenplay for The Weinstein Company's Six Billion Dollar Man, an update of the 1970s Lee Majors TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man" that will star Mark Wahlberg and be directed by Lone Survivor's Peter Berg. Szifrón will also write and direct "The Stranger", a 10-episode US sci-fi TV series.

Wild Tales shows enough promise for you to expect big things from Szifrón, both as a human storyteller and as a stylish, nimble director. Opening in four theaters on Oscar weekend, this drama has grossed over $3 million to date from North America. This week, it came to DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Wild Tales Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.39:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (Argentinean Spanish), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English Descriptive Video Service, French)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($30.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

I'm still regularly wowed by the high quality picture and sound of Sony's Blu-rays. Even this film from Argentina looks amazing in high definition. The 2.40:1 picture treats the tasteful compositions to terrific detail, clarity and color. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio sound is even more impressive, with its impactful effects and crisp Argentinean Spanish dialogue enhancing the film's highly cinematic nature and your ability to appreciate it.

"Wild Shooting" shows us the filming of a car stunt. Writer/director Damián Szifrón discusses his film in a mix of English and Spanish in his appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The first of the Blu-ray's three HD video bonus features is "Wild Shooting: Creating the Film" (24:58),

a fairly comprehensive making-of documentary. It supplies behind-the-scenes footage and plenty of interviews of writer-director Damián Szifrón and his collaborators from both sides of the camera discussing each segment that makes up the film.

Next up is "An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival with Damián Szifrón" (6:46), which provides the director's pre-screening remarks and post-screening Q & A in a mix of English and Spanish with subtitles and an interpreter.

Finally, Wild Tales' US theatrical trailer (2:11) is kindly included, with Sony Pictures Classics remaining one of the only studios to consistently offers trailers alongside the movies they are designed to promote.

The "Previews" listing repeats the six trailers with which the disc opens, for Still Alice, Leviathan, Red Army, Saint Laurent, Lambert & Stamp, and Infinitely Polar Bear.

The static, scored menu makes a fractured collage out of stills from each segment. As always, Sony authors the Blu-ray to support bookmarks and to resume playback.

No inserts are found within the unslipcovered, side-snapped keepcase.

Demolitions engineer Simón Fischer (Ricardo Darín) takes issue with his life-ruining towing and parking ticket he gets in the fourth of six "Wild Tales."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Wild Tales lives up to its title and to the prestige that comes with claiming one of the few Academy Award nominations relegated to foreign films. This absorbing, creative anthology holds your interest and makes you think, with the added bonus of likely introducing you to a nation's cinema you may well be unfamiliar with.

Sony's Blu-ray satisfies with a strong feature presentation and a few good extras. It's well worth a look.

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Reviewed June 18, 2015.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Sony Pictures Classics, Kramer & Sigman Films, El Deseo, and 2015 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.