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A fascinating tale
estebangonzalez1029 May 2012
¨I've got a Chinese guy living in my house who doesn't speak a word of Spanish.¨

Ricardo Darín has starred in two of my favorite Argentine films: El Secreto de Sus Ojos and Nueve Reinas. Darín is a great actor and he has proved he can do very different roles and manage them well. In this film he plays a quiet grumpy and lonely man whose life turns around when an unexpected visitor changes his every day routine. Un Cuento Chino was written and directed by Sebastian Borensztein, a director I wasn't familiar with until now. He has made a well crafted film by mixing the right amount of comedy with drama. The movie shines thanks to the original script and Darín's performance, along with two good supporting performances from unknown actors Muriel Santa Ana and Ignacio Huang. The film claims to be based on a true story, but actually it is just loosely based on an unexpected incident which had to do with a cow falling from the sky and sinking a Japanese ship. This story actually begins with a Chinese couple in a River who are interrupted when a cow falls from the sky. From that moment on you know that you are in for a very different movie, but there is a perfect explanation for the event. The cow falling from the sky is the only true event about this movie which is a fictionalization about a relationship between this lonely man played by Ricardo Darín and a Chinese immigrant in Argentina. Their failure to communicate is what makes this film so funny.

Roberto (Ricardo Darin) is a hardware store owner who lives on his own in the city of Buenos Aires. He is very grumpy and always complaining, but also seems to live a very quiet and routine life. His house is behind the store so he spends most of his time indoors keeping to his self and collecting newspaper clips of bizarre and rare stories in order to prove that life is meaningless. He goes to bed exactly at 11pm and wakes up the next morning to the same breakfast: coffee and bread. He seems comfortable living on his own. He seems to have had a short relationship with the sister in law of the person who always brings him the international newspapers. Her name is Mari (Muriel Santa Ana) and she lives in the countryside far from Buenos Aires, but happens to be visiting again and is very much in love with Roberto. His life changes when he runs into a Chinese immigrant named Jun (Ignacio Huang) who is thrown out of a cab after being mugged. Jun has nowhere to go and doesn't speak Spanish so Roberto decides to help him. He takes Jun to the address he has tattooed on his arm, but the person living there claims that a Chinese man sold the house to him several years ago. Roberto takes Jun to the Chinese Embassy where Jun can finally communicate his intentions: He has come to Argentina to find his uncle since he is the only family he has left. Despite the inconvenience Roberto decides to take Jun in for a few days until his uncle shows up. This will change Roberto's routine and affect his life.

Darin's character might be grumpy and mean, but he is also nice and has a big enough heart to accommodate a foreigner into his home. He will never expect how this relationship will dramatically change his life, but this relationship is exactly what makes the story work. There are other funny moments like some of the paper clips that Roberto finds and how he recreates those bizarre events in his mind, but the center of the story revolves around him, Jun, and Mari. The story moves slow at times, but it works really well because it shows us exactly how Roberto lived before Jun shows up. Once Jun is with Roberto everything changes and that is what makes for the funniest moments. Un Cuento Chino is a very rare film, but a good one with memorable characters and an unlikely pairing between Darin and Huang that works really well. The film has a feel good feeling to it and once the credits begin to role it's impossible not to leave with a smile in your face. I absolutely recommend this movie which won Best Argentine Film and the Goya for Best Iberoamerican Film in 2011.
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Funny and Dramatic
claudio_carvalho25 December 2011
In Buenos Aires, the bitter and methodic Roberto (Ricardo Darín) is a lonely man and the owner of a hardware store. Roberto collects bizarre worldwide news in an album as a hobby and his acquaintance Mari (Muriel Santa Ana) has an unrequited love for him, but Roberto is always evasive.

One day, Roberto sees a Chinese named Jun (Ignacio Huang) being expelled from a taxi while he is watching the landing of airplanes in the airport and he helps the man to stand up. Jun does not speak Spanish and shows a tattoo with an address on his arm. Roberto heads to the spot with Jun and discover that the place belonged to Jun's uncle that sold it three and half years ago. Roberto goes with Jun to the police station, to the China's embassy and to a Chinese neighborhood to seek out his uncle but it is a fruitless search. Roberto lodges Jun in his house and after a series of incidents, he finds a delivery boy that speaks Cantonese to translate Jun and he learns the dramatic story of the life of his guest.

"Un Cuento Chino" is a funny and dramatic film, with a refreshing story and excellent screenplay, direction and performances. Ricardo Darín is one of the best (if not the best) Argentinean actors these days; Ignacio Huang is great in the role of a Chinese that cannot speak Spanish and Muriel Santa Ana is very sweet with her beautiful smile. This film is another proof that for making a great film, budget is one of the least components. Story, screenplay, direction and performances are the most important.

The apparently absurd and bizarre idea of a cow falling from the sky on a boat is true and has happened in 1997 in the Sea of Japan, when a Russian cargo airplane with problems released a cow from a high altitude that hit a Japanese fishing boat that sank. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Um Conto Chinês" ("A Chinese Tale")
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A Solid Movie
bbbonovox15 May 2011
Interesting and somewhat fresh. Darin always knows how to insult properly, and we all Love that in Argentina. Its a movie about Life and its Magic, about rare events and Destiny. You will find the story quite relaxing and and end that boosts the movie just enough to make it a really good one. Not a classic so far of Argentinian Cinema in my opinion, I don't see it becoming One, is what I mean. But as I said, Solid, very watchable, funny here and there, and a message, nicely wrapped with good performances. And if you know about Buenos Aires Culture, its always a plus for this kind of movies. But if you are not familiar with our ways here, you are probably gonna miss some things but at the end, its a nice little journey.
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Some wisdom in our lives
roland-scialom26 November 2011
Very good movie. Intense from the beginning to the end. Crafted with few resources, as were done the movies in the good times of the Nouvelle Vague. Few resources in terms of few actors, few places where the scenes where recorded, no special effects, stunts, wreckage etc, and at the same time, an outstanding existential weight. Existential weight in the sens that each minute in the film is meaningful and cannot be lost. Ricardo Darin is again a great actor. Muriel Santa Ana inspires beauty and sensuality being very simple all the time. Ignacio Huang is dramatic in spite that no one understand what he says. In short, a film which suggests that it is good to plan some place for wisdom in our lives.
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Barriers and Bridges
gradyharp13 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Accidents can change people as this beautifully crafted film from Argentina written and directed by Sebastián Borensztein proves. It is a lovely mixture of fantasy (the fantasy is actually based on a true story) and the reality of how immigrants to any country adjust and the need for the kindness of strangers.

The film opens in a beautiful scene in Fucheng, China where a young couple about to marry are on a picturesque little boat in the middle of a river, celebrating their future. Suddenly a cow drops out of the sky, smashes the boat, kills the girl and the young man Jun (Ignacio Huang) survives.

Jump immediately to Buenos Aires where we meet the bitter and methodic Roberto as a lonely owner of a hardware store. Roberto (Ricardo Darín) collects strangely bizarre worldwide happenings he finds in the many newspapers to which he subscribes and pastes them in an album as a hobby. The man who delivers the stack of newspapers has a sister-in-law Mari (Muriel Santa Ana) who has an unrequited love for Roberto, but Roberto is always evasive. One day, while watching the landing of airplanes at the airport, Roberto sees a Chinese lad named Jun being thrown out of a taxi: he helps the man to stand up. Jun does not speak Spanish and shows a tattoo with an address on his arm. Roberto heads to the address of the tattoo with Jun and discover that the place belonged to Jun's uncle that sold it three and half years ago. Roberto goes with Jun to the police station (where Roberto slugs the desk policeman for insisting that Jun spend the night in jail), to the China's embassy and to a Chinese neighborhood to seek out his uncle but it is a fruitless search. Roberto sees the only option is to allow Jun in his house ('for a certain number of days only!') and after a series of incidents, he finds a Chinese take-out delivery boy to translate for Jun.

Roberto explains to Jun through the translator that life is absurd, does not have any sense, and shares his hobby of the news he had collected including one about some men stealing cows in China with a plane and how a group of peasants follows and shoots the plane in flight, the plane's back door is opened, and two cows are dropped, one of them killing a girlfriend in a boat, who happens to be Jun's, as the translator then explains to Roberto. Roberto then shares his childhood reasons for his current world view and they are dramatic. A series of incidents occurs in which Jun is able to payback the kindness of Roberto, but the major impact is the relationship that forms between Roberto and Jun, a relationship without language communication but with so much more. The small accidental ironies include the Latin American belief that what falls from the sky is usually a sign of good luck, and the final 'gift' Jun leaves Roberto is a drawing of a cow's head on the back of Roberto's store - the space Jun ad cleaned for his room and board.

This is a delicate and very tender story and succeeds because of the sterling performances by Ricardo Darín, Ignacio Huang, and Muriel Santa Ana. Perhaps it doesn't 'take a village' to make changes, but the reciprocity of two disparate people thrown together by fate certainly does.

Grady Harp
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Beautiful and touching story
mario_c4 March 2012
I really enjoyed this Argentinian comedy-drama movie about a solitary man that aids an indigent Chinese man that arrives in his country and speaks no word of Spanish! It's quite a beautiful and touching story mostly because of the way it develops and helps both men finding their way to happiness. It's told in the beginning that this story is based on true events. If so, it's even better and interesting.

Roberto (played by Ricardo Darín) is a solitary man that lives in a poor house and owns a small shop. He's very methodic and has some strange habits and hobbies. For instance, he shuts down the light before sleep everyday on 23pm, o'clock, on the precise second (!) and collects bizarre and absurd true stories he cuts from newspapers (I also appreciated the way those stories are told in the film: Roberto imagines the story as he was there and assumes the character of that little story, like Amélie Poulain in AMÉLIE ). But his live is not easy. He's afraid to release his feelings and emotions and he's very closed and linked to the past. At the same time he's very honest, has a strong personality and is a person with great moral values. Precisely what will make him rescue Juan, the lost Chinese man (played by Ignacio Huang) and help him against everything, even other Chinese people, who are unwilling to aid Juan… (by the way it's hilarious the scene when they go to a Chinese neighborhood in Buenos Aires and when Juan starts speaking in Chinese, to his compatriot, the other man says in Spanish – "I don't understand him!! He's talking in Cantonese and I speak Mandarin! It's a different language!" AHAH! Of course he's right but the situation is hilarious and priceless!). So, it's for this man, with such noble character, that Mari (Muriel Santa Ana), a friend and neighbor of Roberto, will fall in love. But he seems to not care, he seems to be afraid of her… or maybe he's just afraid of himself… However, helping Juan Roberto will help himself too as we will see in the end of the film. I don't use to appreciate beautiful and happy endings but here I did! I really enjoyed the way this film ended, especially because what it meant to Roberto and to the way his life turned around!

This film is delicious by its humor, its drama and also because of all those little circumstances portrayed, that can really happen to every one of us and change our lives!
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Excellent movie!
leoschu4 October 2011
I need to say that Argentine cinema is surprising me more and more at each movie I watch. They are decades ahead of us here in Brazil. Not that we don't ever produce good works.

A rich cast and a good script makes Un cuento chino a excellent option to amuse you at any time, being you alone and sad or laughing with friends.

Trust me, the jokes and the faces are priceless. Ricardo Darín is at his best form, doing what he is best of. His character, Roberto, is an slang disturbed man. He owns a ironware store where he always counts hot many bolts are in the box, so he is not cheated. He turn off the lights every day at 23 pm, etc. One day he is sitting there near the airport, watching the planes takin' off, drinking his beer when this china is thrown off a moving cab. Roberto decide to help the poor boy and, since then, their lives will suffer some changes.
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How do you say: "Sheer perfection" in Chinese?
davidtraversa-15 January 2013
"Enjoyable but a bit sentimental" says Yalza, from Denmark, as a title to his critic for this movie. I don't quite understand it, this is not a Rambo movie, this is a very subtle composition about human values, about ethical decisions, about people reaching out to each other, trying to cope with emotions, sometimes small ones, sometimes too big and impossible to grasp in one take.

I was mesmerized throughout the whole film, for moments afraid that the incredible pacing and magic created by this superb director (Sebastián Borensztein, also the script writer) could come down with some unforgivable faux pas that would destroy the fantastic story being told. But that improbability never happened. Not even in the most minuscule detail.

Ricardo Darín created such a strong introverted character (Roberto) endearing from the very beginning with his constant cursing (I didn't see the English subtitles, but I'm afraid that most Argentinian cursing vocabulary is untranslatable) while Ignacio Huang (Jun) brought to life this lost, penniless Chinese immigrant, incapable even to say ROBERTO due to his total lack of the Spanish language (plus the handicap that Chinese people cannot pronounce R at the beginning of a word); Muriel Santa Ana as Mari projected so well her (not hidden at all) great love for Roberto that one felt immediately for her.

And so it goes with the whole rest of the cast, all perfect, even to the smallest part. This movie grabbed me with the story of the lost immigrant in a country without the language because I was there and although it wasn't that tragic, I know how one can feel when it's impossible to communicate.

There are some heart wrenching emotional moments (the ones I suppose our friend Yalza from Denmark found objectionable tear-jerkers) but they are an intrinsic part of those situations and their inevitable conclusion, otherwise we'd be dealing with robots.

Anyway, to me this is an impeccable movie, so far removed from any Hollywood product (I'm convinced that Argentinian movies delve with the same profoundly human feelings that once did the Italian neorrealism in the 1940s) and --as far as I know and I don't know that much-- only Brazilian cinematography matches those feelings with the same intensity.

Try to watch it because, honestly, it's a jewel of a movie. And oh! its final scene... what a gorgeous final scene to end a perfectly gorgeous movie!
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Amelie, the Argentinian way
shelhis18 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If it were not written at the beginning of the film - based on a true story - the film lover might think: This is the Argentian version of "Amelie"- a film used by so many to seduce a beloved one. Poetic movie about life which tells the most incredible stories. Human and optimistic in its tone we follow the transformation of a pedantic, closed, lonesome hardware dealer back into society by the by chance encounter with an Chinese immigrant. As hard as the hardware dealer tries to be a lonesome wolf - he has the heart on the right place and continues to help his stranded Chinese. This encounter with the young Chinese helps him to unlock his daily routines.
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Pretty good Argentina/Spain co-production full of sensibility , drama , emotion and thought-provoking issues
ma-cortes22 February 2018
This is a slightly entertaining flick with amusing as well as embarrassing situations , emotions and thoughtful deeds , too . This is a charming drama proceeded in slow-moving with plenty of sentimentalism , sensibility and a few surprises . In Buenos Aires, Argentina, lives Roberto (Ricardo Darin) who is a loner and relunctant to engagement with his lover Mari (Muriel Santa Ana) . Roberto has dark secrets on his past and he is the owner of a DIY store. One day, Roberto meets a missing Chinese named Jun (Ignacio Huang ) being thrown out of a taxi . Jun does not speak Spanish language and both of them are lost in translation . Jun shows a tattoo with an address on his arm . Roberto and Jun head to the location and find out that the place belonged to Jun's uncle , but then things go wrong .

Austerily wonderful film based on actual events , that contains drama , mystery about the strange personality of a Chinese man , and haunting poetic fantasy . This is an enjoyable as well as strange flick , here filmmaker/writer Borenzstein established again his uniquely poetic and visually striking style . Besides,there are brooding , provoking and interesting issues running throughout the engaging story . Nice interpretations all around . It stands out Ricardo Darin as a lonely as well as methodic man who collects rare worldwide news and holding ancient prejudices and pains , that's why he is a solitary man . Darin is an excellent leading figure of the most important Argentinian movies , such as : "El Faro" (1998), "El Mismo Amor La Misma Lluvia" (1999), "Nueve Reinas" (2000), "La Fuga" (2001) and especially known for ¨The secret in your eyes¨ and ¨El Hijo De La Novia¨ . His acquaintance is Mari , well played by Muriel Santa Ana , who has an unrequited and evasive love for him . And the mysterious Chinese with surpring and fantastic past was well performed by Ignacio Huang .

Furthermore ,an atmospheric and appropriate musical score by the notorious musician Lucio Gody , a prolific composer who has composed excellent soundtracks such as ¨Blackthorn¨, ¨All about my mother¨ , ¨Fin¨ , ¨Lunes Al Sol¨, ¨Amador¨, ¨Aura¨ and deemed to be one of the best Argentine/Spanish musicians . Competently produced by Gerardo Herrero . Gerardo is a famous producer as well as filmmaker . He was President of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1994-1994) . Great producer of big hits , being especially known for The Secret of your ears (2009), Sin Retorno (2010) , Balada Triste de Trompeta (2010) , Crimenes De Oxford (2008) and El Hijo De La Novia (2001). He also directed some good films such as ¨Silencio En Nieve¨ , ¨Corredor Nocturno¨ , ¨Principio Arquímedes¨ , ¨Crimen Galindez¨ , ¨Frontera Sur¨, ¨Territorio Comanche¨ , ¨Desvio a Paraíso¨ , ¨Al Acecho¨ and ¨Heroína¨ .

The motion picture was well directed by Sebastián Borensztein . He is a nice craftsman who has made nice films as Capitan Koblic , Sin memoria , La suerte está echada and various TV series . The picture won several Awards in Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina 2011 such as : Winner Award of the Argentinean Academy Best Film Sebastián Borensztein ; Best Actor Ricardo Darín ; Best Supporting Actres Muriel Santa Ana ; Best Supporting Actor Ignacio Huang .; Best Screenplay, Original Sebastián Borensztein ; Best Cinematography Rodrigo Pulpeiro. Furthermore, it won Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards 2012 : Silver Condor Best Screenplay, Original , Best Director : Sebastián Borensztein and Best Actor : Ricardo Darín . And Goya Awards 2012 Winner Goya Best Iberoamerican Film (Mejor Película Iberoamericana) Sebastián Borensztein
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language gap
dromasca25 February 2013
Usually telling the end of a film is considered a spoiler. In the case of Argentinian director Sebastián Borensztein, 'Chinese Take-Out' ('Un cuento cino' in the Spanish version) it would be a spoiler to tell how it begins. I actually watched the usual late comers to the cinema hall and wondered whether the film experience is really complete for those folks who entered even only two minutes late after the start of the projection. So, I won't make the mistake of revealing the start of this quite charming feel-good film, I will just say it's quite relevant.

The film tells the story of a grumpy mid-aged owner of a hardware shop in Argentina named Roberto who lives alone, refusing almost any relation with other human beings excepting his suppliers and customers (well, even with these ones only to the point where they do not walk on his toes). He is a good and decent man, and a very bad communicator at the same time. The last thing he needs in life is the appearance of a young Chinese man, Jun, frightened and disoriented, who looks for his uncle in the search for somebody to support him in finding a new way in a new country and who has no-one to rely on but Roberto whom he met accidentally. None of them speaks any word in the language of the other, and each hides traumas from the bast that justify their own barriers in communication. The whole movie is about finding ways to communicate and building a friendship that will help both in overcoming the hurdles of life.

Films about overcoming cultural gaps doubled by barriers of language and making human communication possible despite of them have been made in the past, the one I happen to remember is the Israeli 'Noodle', which was telling the story of a stewardess who finds herself taking care of an abandoned Chinese kid. What makes the story different in 'Un quento cino' are the background stories of the two heroes and the fact that Ricardo Darin and Ignacio Huang are right on spot for the two leading roles. One of the nice ideas of the film is that Jun (Huang) does not really speak one word of Spanish during the whole film, he speaks Chinese, but no translation is available. The language gap is more than a emotional trick or a comic pretext in this film. It is the very glue upon which the relationship and eventually the friendship between the two characters is based upon. Although it is aimed eventually to be a feel-good movie (and succeeds to be so) 'Un quento cino' avoids falling into cheap melodrama because of the discrete humor built upon the day-to-day situations, also based on the fact that in the absence of words the characters need to use gestures which to some extent remind the pantomime style of the early cinema comedies. A discrete and pleasant film.
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Wonderful story, great acting
bobbobwhite5 January 2017
The kind of film America doesn't make any longer. My favorite actor, Ricardo Darin, is at his best once again. Soulful, sad, bitter and mistrustful, this frugal shopkeeper tends his tiny hardware store, making for a meager life living in the spartan rear apartment, but liking the solitude he craves more than anything. Into his very habitual and solitary life comes a Chinese total stranger who speaks no Spanish, and his life changes forever due to his charity to a fellow man in great need. At first, not for the best, but always hopeful. Story development was so well paced.......even, calm, quiet and reserved, just as the characters were, but as deeply moving as it was believable. No gimmicks, no gadgets, no fake steps, just a simple and honest human story well told and acted.

Excellent acting from the 3 leads, truly honest, with Darin shining as bright as ever with soul leaking from every pore, as is his trademark, and what makes him one of the world's greatest actors.

In my long life I have often questioned the brotherhood of man, but this is the kind of story that makes one feel that it can and does exist. Don't miss this story, and be better off for it.
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You can't find destiny by yourself, it reaches you in a strange form.
Reno-Rangan20 June 2014
An Argentinian dark comedy that has one of the most known faces, from that region, Ricardo Darin. Last time I saw him was in 'XXY' a couple of years ago. Given an impressive performance for that rare subject and here he has done it once again. As I believed most people won't appreciate this piece of art, but I loved it. It was one of the kind, but you will get similar themes which are more commercialised than realistic narration.

The story follows when Roberto, a hardware shop owner accidentally meets a foreigner. After seeing the stranger's poor condition he offers the help, but it seems to never go to succeed which finally ends in his head. They both speak different languages and won't understand each other a single word. Miraculously, they manage to leave all the odds behind and try to find a way to solve it. Roberto is a man who wants to be left alone, so he makes a deadline for their quest. Whether it ends successfully or not is unfolds in the remains.

''There are two things I notice very quickly in people: Integrity and suffering. And you have them both''

I am not sure whether it was based on the real story. Definitely it would have happened some corner of the earth's surface that the film crew is not aware of it. I am not sure either I watched a Spanish movie or Mandarin because in the movie they both equally shared. It was truly an inspiring and meaningful characteristic drama of actuality. The struggle of either of the characters was demonstrated very practically. The presentation was so casual with the feel of intense events.

Musics were excellent in most of the parts, especially in the end scene it excelled. The movie had many momentum that is left to the viewers to discover themselves in what they are seeing like why these two are brought together. For that, the final scene clearly described. Yeah that part alone uplifts as much what rest of the movie attempted to disclose. If you were not heard it then okay to miss, after reading my review, you should not miss. Remember, it is not for entertainment, more like a study material on characters and to face the unprepared circumstances.

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Refreshing- "Ta puo"
purav-mehta9020 May 2014
I grabbed this DVD from the library with not much of expectations. The reviews on the cover were definitely convincing,but it is expected that no one will trash their own film. Having said that,i haven't seen the cover of "The Room". Surprisingly,the end result turned out to be a good,light comedy which was engaging till the end.

The movie tries to solve every puzzle and clears fog over many issues that stems while watching it. The opening short is a bit bizarre but the story is narrated in a beautiful manner to join the dots. Being a Wes Anderson fan,the small things about characters fascinates me and for a movie romantics,this film has loads of small bits which are likable and pivotal in the story-line. I enjoyed the movie and would recommend to anyone who is looking for a light comedy instead of wasting time elsewhere. Enjoy the movie.
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Puta que me parió !
lucasurf20 July 2011
Awesome Argentine movie, freaking hilarious !!

From the beginning to the end, excellent and funny jokes...the much the time passes more funny the jokes get. The Chinese guy makes you LOL all the time...the Argentine guy is really funny, and the story itself is comical amusing and very entertaining.

The story is about rare and freakish events that may happen to anyone anytime.

Watch it and you'll know what i'm talking about.

Be ready to have an awesome time and entertain your self with a really great comedy !!!
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A wonderful story filled with passion and love
hu-zhang17 May 2014
The first thing I want to comment on is about the color. This film used a lot of cool colors, despite of a few break-ins when warm-hearted Mari showed up in the movie with her red dresses and beautiful smiles. Nevertheless, this elegant movie was filled with warm passions which were initially suppressed but beautifully expressed by its characters at the later part of the film, which made this film unbelievably touching.

All the major characters in the film seemed frustrated in their individual search of love. Jun was lost in a foreign country and searching for his uncle who could give him new hope of living. Roberto was burdened by a very sad memory that his beloved father died from a unbearable shock that his only son was on the battlefield of a war. Mari was making every effort to open Roberto's heart but could hardly make any progress... These characters didn't talk much in the whole film, but showed us so many deep emotions. They came together seemingly by accident, but with sincere hearts, they fixed each other's problem in a blessing way. This film made me cry, because it is simply made but successfully conveyed profound human emotions.

Thank for everyone who was involved in making this beautiful film.
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Immigrants in Argentina
ar65611 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
With a few days apart I just saw this movie, and another one from Argentina also: "Las Acacias." Both deal with lone wolves Argentine middle age males, who find themselves in a situation where they can give a hand to a foreigner in distress. Both characters are very reluctant to do so, until both witness the treatment these two immigrants get from the police or border agents. At that time, like kicked into action by the either racism, or just plain indifference by authorities in uniform, the protagonists feel the need to assert they are NOTHING like the guy in uniform.

In Las Acacias many have already highlighted the performance given by a baby a few months old. Justly so. How did the director managed to get this kind of acting from someone who neither speaks nor understand spoken language? I do not know, but he did it, and on the shoulders of three magnificent performances this movie achieves what others costing many times more can only hope. Incidentally, the name of the film in Spanish, "Cuento Chino", literally means "Chinese tale", but in Spanish means a story that is very hard to believe.
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-17 Below 0 without Wind Chill, Watching Touching and Humane film
juanitaleo30 January 2019
1st of all...Ricardo Darin is one of my fav actors and just saw him in person recently. On this super cold, stay in house day, my husband and I found this film Chinese Takeaway and really enjoyed it. It is Darin as he always is...honest, convincing, and charming, even in his "angry, lonely man" persona. The chance coming together of different, but not really so, just unique individuals who need...don't want...want connections, and...well just watch to see what evolves. Actors portraying Roberto, Mari, Jun are impressive and convey the film's messages well.
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La amé
roseher16 December 2018
Simplemente me encantó. Guión, actuación, Dirección de arte, vestuario, fotografía! Todo!
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Enjoyable but a bit sentimental
yaizapez3 April 2012
It's happening a lot lately with Argentinian movies: They tend to be a bit too sentimental, it's been the trend since "El hijo de la novia". This "Cuento chino" is no exception. It is a classic reconciliation story, the reconciliation of bitter Roberto with life and love through a meeting with a stranger which makes him reconsider his attitude. It is rather predictable all in all, both in the structure and in the content. A pity, because there are some fresh, surprising components in the movie which could have been used to a larger extent, and maybe the result would have been more original. But it's OK, the film is charming and enjoyable. Not a masterpiece, though.
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Chinese Take Away by Ivette Fred-Rivera
ifredpr27 July 2012
"Chinese Take Away" ("Un cuento chino") by Ivette Fred-Rivera

"Chinese Take Away" ("Un cuento chino" in Spanish) is a comedy written and directed by Sebastián Borensztein, and winner of the international awards of Best Film by the public at the Festival in Rome and Best Latin American Film at the Goya Awards, both in 2011. It is the third time that excellent Argentinian actor Ricardo Darín stars in a film of Borensztein, the other two, Oscar winning "The secret in their eyes" and Oscar nominated "The Son of the Bride". The title in Spanish is curious because a Chinese story means a story improbable, incredible, I think because it's a place so far away, that we cannot believe, how do we know if China exist? The film opens in Fucheng, China, in Hebei province —we can enjoy the already well-known beauty of the Chinese landscape— when a Chinese man, Jun (Ignacio Huang), takes his girlfriend on a boat trip on a picturesque lake surrounded by mountains to propose to her when a cow falls from the sky, killing Jun's girlfriend. Ironically, what falls from the sky is usually a sign of good luck in Latin America. A reverse shot makes the transition to hardware "De Cesare" in Buenos Aires, Argentina because it is going around the world. In the beginning, Roberto (Ricardo Darín) shows that theft is a string, a trader sells him fewer screws per box and he sells his client less per pound. But as Mari (Muriel Santa Ana) explains, Roberto, although suffered, is noble. A chance encounter in the street prompts Roberto to help Jun. Roberto sees Jun being expelled from a taxi after being robbed while he was watching the landing of airplanes in the airport. The toy plane flying inside of Roberto's car takes him to China.

It is the story of Roberto and Jun brought together in Buenos Aires where Jun goes in search of his only living relative. For the Chinese, even in the diaspora, the family is sacred, as it is stipulated by Confucianism ancient texts. Jun insists on finding his uncle to start a new life after his tragedy. Both Jun and Roberto are orphans, but Jun has insisted that his tapo (uncle) is his family.

Though Roberto's life is totally dominated by repetition, he is fascinated with coincidence. Roberto collects quirky news from around the world and permutes the characters with the people he knows in his imagination, taking revenge on their enemies as Dante did in the "Divine Comedy".

Through the stylish Chinese food delivery guy – looking like the Chinese youth dressed in the cities in China, very modern —who serves as a translator, Roberto explains to Jun that life is absurd, does not have any sense, and shows the news he had collected, including one about some men stealing cows in China with a plane and how a group of peasants follows and shoots the plane in flight, the plane's back door is opened, and two cows are dropped, one of them killing a girlfriend in a boat, who happens to be Jun's, as the translator then explains to Roberto. On the other hand, for Jun, everything in life has meaning. It all makes sense. The absurd is for those who can't understand meaning. Very touching the drawing Jun makes for Roberto before he departs to meet his tapo with a frontal cow head on the wall that he had repaired and cleaned. He is an artist who worked painting toys in China. Jun draw it with what was left of a pencil that Roberto discarded. The Chinese are very resourceful people, indeed. No waste, the most hardworking people in the world.

I liked the film very much because it is a proof of the universality of body language. In China itself, being so vast, there are several languages in the different regions, that's why Jun is not understood by the Chinese he met in Chinatown. However, when he talks on the phone with his uncle in Chinese, we understand perfectly what he is saying because of the depiction of emotion. Language is really a matter of our genuine interest to understand each Other. I have just returned from China, I can assure you that.
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Chinese fable
jotix10014 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Jun, a Chinese man, is seen with his would be wife on a boat. The setting serves as a romantic place in which he will propose marriage to her. Unfortunately, fate intervenes in the way of a cow falling from the sky, killing the woman and ending his aspirations.

The scene changes to a contemporary hardware store in Buenos Aires where Roberto, the owner, is counting screws. Instead of the number specified in the box, Roberto has been gypped, something, he notices, that occurs all the time. He curses the company that cannot even count right. He is a man of few words who does not take kindly to idiots that come into his shop. One thing Roberto loves is to cut articles from newspapers with bizarre stories. The best are pasted on an album he keeps.

One day, a Chinese man arrives at the store. It is Jun, the Chinese man we saw first. He has come looking for a relative, whose address he was given, is the one where the De Cesare's Hardware is located. Roberto does not understand a thing Jun is trying to tell him, and vice-versa. Since Jun has no place to go, and not acquainted with the city, he stays close to Roberto's shop. Roberto takes pity on the poor Jun by taking him to the embassy, where they promise to contact Jun's relatives. Roberto has a friend, Mari, who sees in the foreigner a man to be pitied having come from so far away to an uncertain future. Mari is also interested in Roberto in a more romantic way, although he seems oblivious to the way she looks at him.

Through his newspaper clippings, we get to know a little bit of Roberto's life and his involvement in the Falklands war. There is an article that shows a young Roberto and the tragedy the country suffered plus the humiliation afterward, something that can explain his strange behavior. Trying to get Jun occupied, Roberto asks Jun to paint his patio. Roberto is in for a big surprise after Jun leaves, having found his distant uncle, by what Jun decided to paint on his wall!

An interesting film from Argentina, written and directed by Sebastian Borensztein, the son of well known and witty comedian Tato Bores. The film works in unexpected ways because it is a comedy with an important message sandwiched in between. The title refers to the kind of stories that are so far fetched, they are not true. Roberto lives through exactly that, stories that are so incredible, that he puts himself in them, trying to make sense to escape his lonely existence.

One could not imagine what the film might have been without the great Ricardo Darin playing Roberto. The actor is without a doubt one of the best actors working today. The intelligence of Mr. Darin permeates everything he does; he is no one other than Roberto, the strange shop owner facing a dilemma about what to do with his life. Ignacio Huang plays Jun and Muriel Santa Ana is Mari.
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Realistically and thoughtfully absurd
ross-acheson25 June 2018
Thoroughly enjoyable film with just the right touches of humor and drama. Brilliantly written and well acted.
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about an earlier review - may contain spoilers
dmarjos9 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen this movie just a few minutes ago. And it seems that Jotix100 was watching another movie. Jun doesn't arrive to Roberto' store. Roberto was watching planes landing at Buenos Aires metropolitan airport when Jun is kicked off a taxi-cab. I haven't read jotix100's whole review, just because if he/her missed it by that much, that whole review is worthless to read. If you haven't see the movie, take your time, sit at your nicest sofa, and prepare to have your head blown off. You won't see any shooting, or kicks, or fist fighting. But you'll have an adorable 1.5 hours of an amusing story. Anyway, I'll try to write an excerpt of the movie: After Jun and Roberto meeting, Roberto tries to have Jun out of his life. Roberto is a lonely man. His whole life is his hardware store, and his death wife. He even "gives to her" a present on her birthday (or her death anniversary, that's not clear) Suddenly, a Chinese young man is in his life. Jun (the young Chinese man) doesn't speak Spanish, and Roberto doesn't know how to communicate with him. Roberto tries to make Chinesse Embassy to take Jun as a refugee, but they refuse to do that. So Roberto has no options but take Jun with him. The subplot is a girl who Roberto knows barely, but she is in love with him. And she tries to get Roberto's attention. She make fond with Jun, despite the language barrier, and tries to help Robertop to find Jun's family. She even find a Chinese food delivery boy, who helps Roberto to talk with Jun. That's when Roberto finds the tragic and bizarre story in Jun's life. Everything else, you have to watch the movie to find out. I don't want to spoil you too much ;)
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Ricardo Darín is always awesome.
educallejero13 September 2018
Ricardo Darín is always awesome. Unless you found a way to undercut everything he tries to do.

I never laughed. I never cared. I wasn't thrill for a second. This wasn't serious nor was super fun.

It is a really awful attempt at dramedy.
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