War is hell. The innocent always suffer. Good people can't solve bad situations. Heavy-handed clichés are part and parcel to Fernando León de Aranoa's A Perfect Day , even when they are masked by the film's satirical leanings. A team of weary aid workers traverse the battle scarred Balkans at the end of the Bosnian War trying to make a difference despite U.N. red tape and threatening militias.
Benicio del Toro's Mambrú stoically leads and grimaces while Tim Robbins' character, B, makes zany comments from the sidelines. Both men have been hardened by the realities of war yet still believe they're making a difference. A Perfect Day revolves around their attempts to retrieve a massive dead body from a well, a seemingly straightforward goal that gets complicated by multiple different circumstances.
A side trip to retrieve fresh rope leads Mambrú, B and the rest of their cohorts into a bombed-out village. The only sign of life is a rabid dog tied up with (you guessed it) the necessary rope. Irony runs thick here, but it's irony perceived and experienced by outsiders. Locals are relegated to mentors, victims or pragmatic observers.
Offsetting the masculinity are thorny women; they range in personality from an ax-grindingly cold bureaucrat (Olga Kurylenko) to a naïve emotional do-gooder (Mélanie Thierry). Neither has much to do beyond complain about their decreasingly stable situation. Not the most flattering portraits of women in duress.
A Perfect Day , which opens Friday, Jan. 22, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park, means well much like its squad of activists. But more often than not the real issues of local politics, identity and trauma are glossed over for a rock music cue or strategically placed one-liner. Contradictions that should sting with rage end up evaporating into the deep blue sky.
A Perfect Day : Embattled aid workers played by Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins attempt to make a difference in the war torn Balkans. Screens through Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Dirty Grandpa : Zac Efron plays an uptight guy who gets schooled on how to party by his horny old grandpa (Robert De Niro).
Monster Hunt : In a fantastical version of medieval China, those in power threaten a baby monster trying to survive in a hostile world. Opens Friday, Jan. 22, at the AMC La Jolla Cinemas.
Prescription Thugs : This hard-hitting documentary looks at the shady marketing practices of Big Pharmaceutical and the staggering level of addiction it’s caused in 21st century America. Screens through Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The 5th Wave : Aliens have attacked Earth in four deadly waves. Now, a young woman must try to survive the 5th wave and save her brother in the process. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz.
The Boy : After taking a job as a nanny in the U.K., an American woman discovers that she has been tasked with taking care of a doll that may actually be alive.
The Lady in the Van : A young man forms a special friendship with a transient woman (Maggie Smith) living in her van. Opens Friday, Jan. 22, at the Angelika Film Center in Carmel Mountain.
The Treasure : A Romanian man decides to help his desperate neighbor look for buried treasure that had been hidden right before the communists took power. Screens through Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.