Anyone familiar with Saturday Night Live writer and Los Espookys co-creator Julio Torres’ idiosyncratic, fanciful sense of humor won’t be surprised to learn that his feature film debut, Problemista, is a delightfully erratic and wild ride.
Problemista follows Alejandro (Torres), a young man who moves from El Salvador to Bushwick in the hopes of realizing his dreams as a toy maker. Getting the sponsorship he needs to remain in the United States proves to be a headache of epic proportions, but he sees a potential light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Elizabeth (Tilda Swinton): An eccentric, volatile and hostile art critic who spends her days picking fights with waiters and Apple Support technicians. Elizabeth solicits Alejandro to help get her cryogenically frozen husband Bobby’s (RZA) paintings into an art show, vowing to sponsor the young man should everything go to plan.
But, we all know that everything tends not to go as planned in these sorts of situations. Getting sponsored turns out to be a wholly Kafkaesque experience for Alejandro—an experience replete with a healthy dosage of ludicrousness that Torres highlights with magnificent maze-like sets that recall the wacky, dystopian office spaces of Jacques Tati’s Playtime.
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