Friday Films: Benda Bilili! & Wild Tales

Benda Bilili! – a heartwarming story about a group of disadvantaged African buskers escaping poverty – and Wild Tales: ‘six unrelated, exhilarating short stories’ reviewed by Denis Leaker

Benda Bilili! (2010, dir. Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye)

Benda Bilili! is a documentary following a band of mostly middle-aged, paraplegic, polio-victim rough-sleepers who busk and sell cigarettes to make ends meet. It doesn’t sound fun, but it is.

The band are popular amongst local kids who push them around the war-torn Kinshasa ghettos in their makeshift tricycles. Indeed it is when a teenager, Roger, is invited to join the band with his homemade Satongé, a one-string guitar made from a tin can and piece of wire, that the fortunes of the band begin to shift.

It seems impossible that Staff Benda Bilili could make it out of Kinshasa, however, when you hear Roger play a one-stringed tin can like he’s Jimi Hendrix, you start to believe that anything is possible. Even headlining the Royal Albert Hall.

Benda Bilili is a heartwarming story about the most unlikely group, from the toughest of backgrounds, finally realising their dreams.

Wild Tales (2014, dir. Damián Szifron)

The less you know about Wild Tales the better. If you are open-minded, then stop reading and just watch it. If you aren’t happy at the end, you can leave a disgruntled comment at the bottom of this review.

If you would like to know more: Wild Tales is a compilation of six unrelated, exhilarating short stories; each linked by a central theme of injustice followed by a loss of control demonstrated in a darkly hilarious fashion.

Imagine Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected directed by Quentin Tarantino. In fact, this Argentine/Spanish film is written and stylishly directed by Damián Szifron and co-produced by Pedro Almodóvar.

Whilst the stories are outlandish, they enable the viewer to relish in the joy of extreme revenge in these somewhat everyday situations: bullying; parking inspectors; road rage; infidelity; covering up a drunken mistake; and seeing an old neighbour who has wronged you.

If you would take pleasure in daydreaming the myriad ways of dealing with these scenarios, then this film is for you.