Murkier than the last collection of vignettes to make it here, Romania’s light-hearted Tales From The Golden Age, this collection of six shorts from Argentine writer-director Damián Szifrón is wickedly funny stuff. ‘Presented by’ usually means as much as ‘from the studio that brought you…’ but this Pedro Almódovar ‘presentation’ echoes the Spanish director at his darkly comic best.
evenge, frustration, and bitter irony seem to be the theme here and the first vignette sets the tone perfectly. A model (Maria Marull) and a music critic (Dario Grandinetti) meet on a plane and are surprised to hear that they both know a Gabriel Pasternak. So does the lecturer in front, and the student two seats up. In fact, everyone on board has some connection to this man and what’s more they all treated him badly. The nature of these shorts is set up-and-pay off so to give away more would be a sin, but this first segment is indicative of how far Szifrón is prepared to go. It also warns the audience how silly things are going to get.
s is expected in these things some short films work better than others and the middle offerings of Road To Hell, Bombita and The Deal are the real standouts. Road To Hell has a yuppie in a BMW (Sbaraglia) insult a ‘redneck’ (Walter Donado) on a deserted road and the spat is taken to extreme measures by both parties; Bombita has demolition expert Ricard Darin (The Secret In Their Eyes) seethe with frustration when he comes up against the Kafka-esque bureaucracy of a Buenos Aires DMV; and The Deal has a rich man (Martinez) pay his gardener (German de Silva) to stand in for his son who is involved in a hit-and-run.
p against these strong offerings, the lesser lights - The Rats gives a waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) a chance to poison the man (Cesar Bordon) responsible for ruining her family, and the finale Til Death Do Us Part has a case of infidelity emerge at a wedding - don’t shine as bright but Szifrón’s infuses even these dark comedies with a rich unpredictability.