Charlize Theron. Death. Mexicans. Adultery. Wasn’t that guy in Sex and the City? Arson. Unnecessarily naked blond women. Murder. Plane crash. Mexicans. Robin Tunney? Estranged daughters. Cancer.

This is how watching The Burning Plain went for me. It’s Guillermo Arriaga‘s new film. If you remember his earlier films, Amores Perros, Babel, or 21 Grams, then you’re probably suffering from at least one terminal illness. He’s made a living off jumping back and forth between space, time, and characters. One minute you’re in the desert in 1994, the next you’re in an apartment in 2009, and shortly after that you hit two kids with your car, get knocked up, find God, and give up looking for a bone marrow donor, all on your way to jail.

It’s hard to talk about the plot of The Burning Plain because it requires giving away that so-and-so is actually such-and-such but a decade later, and that that big thing didn’t really happen on accident, and that the old Chinese man in the theater next to me is asleep on my shoulder with his eyes open.

Trying to guess who’s what, when, and why the hell you didn’t just burn yourself with a lighter instead of paying $9.50 to watch kids burn themselves with lighters, is about as entertaining as playing tic tac toe with someone who knows how to tie every time.

Oh sure, there’s a lot of crying. And since dying + crying = acting, there’s some good acting as well. In fact the whole movie is basically a trailer for the Oscars where all the old Jewish men are played by Mexicans and Charlize Theron pops out of the birthday cake. I never saw Monster, but this performance is probably like that performance except she didn’t gain enough weight to guarantee her an award. But it doesn’t matter anyway because good acting without a good movie is like a puff without the cream.

The Burning Plain starts today at Embarcadero Center Cinema. Info.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!