Forget about all the brassy, effects-laden blockbusters crowding the multiplexes this summer: For sheer entertainment value, none are likely to top this Argentine-Spanish anthology of comic shorts. Rich in black humor and satirical invective, "Wild Tales" became the most successful Argentinian movie of all time when it was released there last year (under the title "Relatos Salvajes"), picking up an Academy Award nomination along the way. But its vision of the country — as a land of systemic injustice, populated by people who are venal, self-serving and given to outbursts of violence — probably isn't one that the tourist board would endorse.

Written and directed by veteran screenwriter Damian Szifron, "Wild Tales" is split into six discrete stories, which feel like the kind of yarns you might hear in a seedy bar at 4 a.m. Lurid and gleefully cynical, the tales share some common themes: Characters are repeatedly pushed to the edge of reason, driven to reckless behavior by anger and a desire for vengeance. Irony and inequity reign supreme, encouraged by an uncaring bureaucracy. Oh, and these stories are often very funny indeed.

In one, a waitress comes face to face with the man who drove her father to suicide and, egged on by a murderous coworker, has to decide whether or not to lace the man's food with rat poison. In another, a road rage incident between an Audi-driving yuppie and a country hick escalates into a farcical life-or-death struggle, punctuated by an inspired use of Joe Esposito's slushy 1983 ballad, "Lady, Lady, Lady." Another shows the passengers on a plane discovering that they're all linked to the same person — and he's at the controls of the aircraft.