EXTRAORDINARY STORIES (HISTORIAS EXTRAORDINARIES) (director/writer: Mariano Llinás; cinematographer: Agustín Mendilaharzu; editors: Alejo Moguillansky/Agustín Mendilaharzu; music: Gabriel Chwojnik; cast: Mariano Llinás (X), Walter Jakob (Z), Agustín Mendilaharzu (H), Klaus Dietze (César), Daniel Hendler (narrator), Juan Minujin (narrator), Veronica Llinás (narrator); Runtime: 245; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Laura Citarella; Cinema Tropical; 2008-Argentina-in Spanish with English subtitles)
“One of the more unusual entertaining films I have recently seen.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The 33-year-old Argentinean filmmaker Mariano Llinás (“Balnearios“)directs an ambitious and original experimental adventure film that runs for 245 minutes with a non-stop voiceover by three unseen narrators (Daniel Hendler, Juan Minujin and Veronica Llinás), that intertwines three unusual stories cloaked in mystery, suspense and multiple digressions. The tapestry includes secret identities, assassinations, a bizarre love story, a hunt for a lost treasure, an odd wager over the functionality of a state river project, the smuggling of wild beasts, a dying lion, dossiers of newspaper clippings and of official documents, a massacre, missing persons, enigmatic and shifting plotlines, and abandoned monoliths lining a river. The intense filmmaker takes us on a long and arduous journey that’s purposely kept difficult to follow and on first glance seems to have no point but to be told as reinforcing that the world is a mysterious place where an imaginative person should not be bored no matter how ordinary life seems. The three stories, with 18 chapters, get more involved as they are told, but all end without an expected payoff. Nevertheless the stories are so spellbinding that perhaps those used to linear films can overlook that there’s no payoff and just appreciate it for its storytelling.
The chatty, inventive, non-commercial arthouse film wasshot on low-definition digital video.
The three circuitous story lines have three unnamed lead characters: H (Agustín Mendilaharzu, the film’s cinematographer) is a flustered manual laborer in the story set on theSaladoRiver, who searches for monoliths put there by a past government project that was abandoned and hooks up with a strange elderly German man (Klaus Dietze) as his guide; X (Mariano Llinás, the director) stars as a frustrated architect taking an odd job, beneath his ability, as a land surveyor in the boondocks and witnessing the murder of a man driving a tractor by two nervous guys in a pick-up truck in the middle of a farm field and going into hiding in a hotel when he becomes unwittingly a murderer; and Z (Walter Jakob), as the newly appointed head of “The Federation,” who is a bored midlevel bureaucrat in a provincial agricultural agency and to pass the time gets involved in trying to trace the mysterious life of his deceased predecessor and finds it to be a really complicated life that takes all his energy and time to track down.
One of the more unusual and entertaining films I have recently seen.
REVIEWED ON 5/10/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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