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Crime, Redemption, and the Search for the Truth: Films that Remind us of Plata Quemada

Chilean theatre makers TEATROCINEMA arrive in Boston on March 11th, delivering the heart-pulsing noir tale of Argentina’s most notorious heist, Plata Quemada (MAR 11-15). Ahead of its much anticipated arrival we’ve collated a list of reference films — each filled with unforgettable characterizations — akin to the groundbreaking, explosive narrative of Plata Quemada.

Where better to begin than with Good Time, the 2017 masterpiece from the twisted, disquieted mind of visionary auteurs, the Safdie Brothers. The subversive genre film stars Robert Pattison as Connie —  a freshly released convict on a nocturnal odyssey to bail his younger brother out of prison after a botched bank robbery. The entirety of the film tracks with Connie, a character unlike any other, as he unrelentingly and desperately flits around the underbelly of Queens, exploiting anyone he values useful as he tries to undo the chaotic fallout of the failed heist. Unspooling in a nervy, hallucinatory twenty-four hours, the film wields the ethos of Plata Quemada in it’s gritty noir sensibilities, arresting visuals, and melange of characters from the crime-ridden, underground world.

Next on the list is Moonrise Kingdom, a film that, while faring starkly more innocently, inventively honors the “lovers-on-the-lam” subgenre. The 2012 entry to Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic canon tells the whimsical story of two lovelorn teenagers and penpals — one an introspective orphan and boy scout, the other misunderstood and from a troubled family — as they fall in love and decide to flee from their problems as the coastal town’s most prodigious rainstorm looms on the horizon. Bound together by a requited sense of alienation, they concoct an ambitious but aimless runaway plan, sending the island sheriff and devout scouts leader (played wonderfully by Bill Murray and Ed Norton respectively) on an expedition to recover the kids before the storm arrives. While the tones of Moonrise Kingdom and Plata Quemada vastly differ, the essence of their protagonists’ relationships are both grounded by an undying sense of affection no matter the turbulent, troubling forces obstructing their path on the way to liberation.

The final film on this list is the unforgettable cinematic masterpiece by Sidney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon. Starring Al Pacino in a remarkable, Academy Award nominated performance, the  film unfurls the story of an inexperienced criminal and his accomplice desperately trying to maintain control after a failed bank robbery flips into a frenzied hostage situation. As the bank heist swiftly falls apart, Al Pacino’s character spends the remainder of the film in the most precarious of situations — fending off droves of police units and media personnel while keeping a bank full of innocent hostages under control — a masterclass of keeping on one’s toes. As the jostle for control crescendos, so do the exchanges between Sonny (Pacino) and the police. A constant trade of hostages for favors, each transaction becomes more contentious, calculated, and revelatory than the last, all the way to the climax. The background hysteria throughout the film provides a meaningful and memorable context as does the striking denouement — leaving audiences stunned with a viewing experience they won’t soon forget, similar to that of Plata Quemada.

Just next month, we’ll be welcoming TEATROCINEMA back to Boston for their U.S. premiere of Plata Quemada (MAR 11-15) and we’re overjoyed to share with you their latest multimedia tale of bandits, betrayals, and blowouts in a vivacious concatenation of live-action and animation.

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