Monday, March 24, 2008

"Southland Tales" Review

Since before October of 2006, I have wanted to see "Southland Tales".
It received a horrible One Star Review at Cannes, and it only gets Two Stars (out of five) from Shane.

I constantly blogged about how upset I was with the studios for wanting to cut down Richard Kelly's film into a 100 minute film. Well, via Netflix, I got the 144 minute version of the film. IMDB lists that the Cannes version of the film was 160 minutes long - so it seems I got the in-between version of the film. Not as short as the producers wanted it, but not as long as Kelly intended it.

First, the film is nowhere near as good as "Donnie Darko". Not even close.

It's pointless to even attempt to explain - in any intelligent manner - the storylines present in the film. It's such a mish-mash hodge-podge of uninteresting activities. It attempts to incorporate a mystery into the storyline, while never directly addressing the mystery. It also constantly references a character's amnesia, while that character never appears confused about his whereabouts or his actions.

In an attempt to explain: Boxer Santaros (played by Dwayne Johnson - aka The Rock) returns to Los Angeles with amnesia. But, somehow he hooks up with Krysta Now, a porn star played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. They write a script about a man who discovers how the world is going to end. Throw in a sub-plot about a group of Marxists who are attempting to over-throw the government using a police officer and his twin brother as pawns, and add in the Senator who becomes their target, and the crazy scientist who developing alternative fuel sources (since we can't import oil anymore) and you've got a multi-layered insane mass of stories to be told, which all gets narrated by Justin Timberlake (who actually was pretty good in this film).

The film opens with a scene that is supposed to explain how World World 3 starts, and how the government basically shuts down the country, including the Internet. "Big Brother" pretty much takes over any and all forms of communication. The majority of the film comes off more as a Political Statement than anything else. It's sort of an anti-war and anti-government piece. It seems to pull fears that Kelly has about how the future will be, if we continue giving so much power to politicians and the government. Perhaps this is similar to some of the thoughts and feelings felt by Terry Gilliam as he worked on "Brazil"???

In the last 20 minutes of the film, Kelly attempts to throw in a Science-Fiction twist, that is supposed to attempt to partial explain certain elements of the film, and it just comes off as a poorly conceived idea that was thrown in, due to a lack of intelligent story composition.

So, I was honestly a lot more disappointed with the film last night when I just got done watching it - than I am now. Thinking back, it really was a very though-out piece of "art". But, there's so much exposition that isn't required, so many layers of story-telling that it makes it difficult to follow, and still the overall sense that Kelly didn't really know where he was going, or what he was doing. Granted, it's not as ill-conceived as Lynch's attempt at "Inland Empire" - but it's still a film that feels like it tried to do too much, while over-stimulated the viewer to the point of un-interest in the characters.

More than likely, I'm going to have to find time to watch the film again. Now that I now what to expect, perhaps I will be better equipped to enjoy certain aspects of the film - or pick on pieces that I originally missed. All I know, is that after almost two years of waiting - I was greatly disappointed with the product given to me.

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