Sci-Fi December: Southland Tales

Southland Tales illustration by Jeff SchwartzbauerSouthland Tales – 2006

Dir: Richard Kelly  | Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, Sean William Scott, Wallace Shawn, Nora Dunn, Jon Lovitz, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Christopher Lambert, John Larroquette, Mandy Moore, Will Sasso, Bai Ling, and many many more…

Year: 2006’s version of 2008

Review: This movie is crazy. Flat out, a crazy movie. So many types of crazy. Conceptually – crazy. Performances / Acting Choices – crazy. Cast – crazy. Music / Musical Numbers – crazy. There is fewer movies I have seen in my life where I have less idea of what is going on 30 minutes in, than I did putting the DVD in the player. If you read a synopsis or the back of the box all of that information is smeared into a mess early on.  By the end of the 2.5 hours you have the most strange mix of plot lines and characters that have jumbled together in a pile and rather than answering any questions it rather asks you, “Ehh, maybe re-watch it to figure it out? I dunno.” It should be noted that this was supposed to be a monumental multi-media experience with a lavish website and several graphic novels you were to read prior to seeing the film (the movie starts with a “Chapter IV” graphic) but since I assume the movie itself was progressing as such a mess all of those things didn’t receive much promotion. By the time they addressed the final edit they must have assumed everyone would have no idea what they would be walking into so there is loads of voice over narration to explain a slew of backstory while lots of informative graphics and news clips play. This happens through the entire movie to bridge nonsense to nonsense. The plot is that W3 erupts after the U.S. suffers a nuclear attack, some porn stars and a hollywood actor get mixed up with an extremist group to try and scam a senator. But there is several characters with amnesia involved, false siblings, double crossing, lots and lots of characters, etc. Its a huge mess and you have to cut your way through so many political messages its exhausting. Richard Kelly really took too big of a step after coming out of nowhere with Donnie Darko, its like when the cool rock band has a popular album with a few hits and then trys to make the double album about teenage lovers on Venus. Its impressive how much effort and work went into it, and it looks nice and there is all these emotional music cues, but its just too self-indulgent. I don’t know if this is shown on Cable TV all that much, but I could imagine people getting sucked in by seeing a random 5 minutes and watching the rest, saying to themselves, “Man, I need to see the start of this!” and then watching the rental copy and being upset that the start just makes things more confusing.

Oh, and there is a scene where some SUVs have sex.

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