Welcome back to Intermission, a spin-off podcast from The Film Stage Show. Led by yours truly, Michael Snydel, I invite a guest to discuss an arthouse, foreign, or experimental film of their choice.
For the twelfth episode, I talked to prolific Chicago critic Ben Sachs, an associate editor at Cine-File, about Martín Rejtman’s 2014 Argentine comedy Two Shots Fired (available along with the rest of Rejman’s fiction work on MUBI). A wryly absurd, deceptively simple portrait of weathering middle class discontentment, Rejtman’s film traces the undulations of a family and their friends/acquaintances after a 16-year-old boy attempts suicide. He presents that event as little more than a darkly comedic non-sequitur (When asked why he did it, the boy says: “It was an impulse; it was very hot.”), a corollary into a series of vignettes about disconnection and spiritual fatigue.
His sparely evocative sensibility can occasionally recall filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki, but it’s more productive to contextualize him with his regional contemporaries and descendants. Releasing his first feature in 1992, Rejtman is viewed as one of the key figures of the New Argentine Cinema with filmmakers like Lucrecia Martel, Lisandro Alonso, and Pablo Trapero. Those filmmakers aren’t necessarily united by approach––a portion of this episode specifically compares Martel and Rejtman’s disparate approaches to class in The Headless Woman and Two Shots Fired––but Rejtman’s digressive narrative style and lightly ironic touch feels distinctly Argentine.
Our conversation begins with a discussion about the film’s beguiling tone before segueing into theories about the film as a metaphor for the internet, Rejtman’s precision in portraying an almost nostalgic middle class, and Sachs’ own nearly life-long admiration for Southern Cone comedy, and especially Argentine humor.
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