Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is 'Southland Tales' the new 'All the Pretty Horses'?

I need your help, regarding a matter that may initially seem simple, but on closer reflection may well be the unanswerable question:

Justin Timberlake lip-synching to The Killers

Jon Lovitz as a racist cop

Sarah Michelle Gellar as a porn star investigative journalist

Dwayne Johnson as a much more famous version of himself

Wallace Shawn and Miranda Richardson together at last

Religious visions of the apocalypse and consumerism will eat itself scenarios

Some of the most striking visual images in US cinema of the past ten years

‘Strange Days’ meets ‘Memento’ meets ‘Blade Runner’ meets ‘Donnie Darko’ meets ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’

I think.

So, to the question: can anyone tell me what the hell ‘Southland Tales’ is about?

It’s well-known (and obvious from watching it) that this movie has been cut to ribbons - which didn’t harm ‘Across the Universe’, a movie that I felt could have lost a couple more scenes and still been breathtaking; on the other hand, I still wait in vain for a director’s cut of Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘All the Pretty Horses’, which I genuinely think could be a masterpiece if the studio hadn’t exercised their prerogative to make great things worse by dividing them in two. ‘Southland’ comes from Richard Kelly, who in ‘Donnie Darko’ proved himself capable of both smart philosophy and cinematic poetry - sort of a Ferris Bueller meets Ingmar Bergman kinda guy; and so I want to believe that his next film is more than the sum of its parts. But watching it last night was … how should I say this? Confusing to the point of monotony? Maybe, but I’m open to a re-viewing with new lenses: and this is what I need you for: Is there any one among you who can tell me what I should do with ‘Southland Tales’?


Joel Mayward said...

Here are your options as I see it:

A. View it as a well-made tribute to sci-fi "B" movies.

B. Watch WALL-E instead for similar themes and imagery about consumerism and our future, only with a coherent story and no SUVs having sex.

C. Wait for Kelly's next film, The Box, and hope for the best.

gareth higgins said...

Thanks for this - I think there is truth in all three of your points. I'm open to watching 'ST' again, but this time I'll not play Tetris at the same time.

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