Sunday, March 30, 2008

Richard Kelly's Southland Tales DVD release, an entertaining flick with issues...

The DVD release of Southland Tales finally hits stores.

From the perspective of a fan, I like this movie!

I've been interested in Southland Tales for a while now, ever since first hearing about it back in 2005. It was after all a film by the Donnie Darko mastermind Richard Kelly, and like any other fan of the filmmaker and his previous work, I had been wondering about his next production, and when exactly it would come out.

At some point during one of my online searches, I stumbled upon the official website for the movie, which seemingly set the atmosphere, and mood of Southland Tales not only with the images and stills from the film, but with the strange electronic score playing as background music. Just what was this movie about? It certainly sounded cool.

Curious about the film even more so at that point, a movie which touted an an ensemble cast of The Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Lambert, Kevin Smith, Cheri Oteri, and Amy Poehler to name a few, (among the other actors who also appeared in Donnie Darko), the movie sounded epic.

It also had accompanying graphic novels, originally 6, but at some point were cut down to 3. As well a soundtrack which was crafted by Moby. All this gave the impression that there was a lot riding on Kelly's movie. The epic sci-fi vision of a futuristic Los Angeles, a hybrid black-comedy, sci-fi, mystery, drama, musical, that Kelly felt was an important story to tell after the events 9/11, was basically about Civil Liberties, and homeland security.

After hearing that the film wasn't well received when screened at the Cannes film festival, I slowly started to lose interest in the movie. As a result of it's poor reception, Kelly reedited the film, cutting it down and polishing the visual effects, but I still had no idea when I'd be able to see it in theaters.

Flash forward to two weeks ago, I see the movie on store shelves so I picked it up fearing it'd be all gone if I had passed up on purchasing it. I later learned that the movie had come out in theaters most likely in limited release, and it completely flew under my radar. In fact I had forgot about it, until I saw it in the store. Just what was so bad about the movie? I had to find out.

I must be the only one who likes this movie. And even if I am the only fan, that's fine by me.

Southland Tales is entertaining and I enjoyed it. There have been worse films throughout film history, much MUCH worse by far,(like that M.Night flick Lady in the Water) but Southland Tales isn't one of them regardless of what the critics say on Rottentomatoes. I guess everyone expected something great from the director, which he himself tried to deliver with an epic Southland Tales, but failed to make it completely coherent.

With that said, it's a visually stunning movie, with lots of cool visual effects shots that call to mind a little bit of Blade Runner, and A Scanner Darkly. Long choreographed steady -cam shots much like Donnie Darko, and with enough quotable lines to get some kind of laugh out of the most jaded viewer. "Teen Horniness is not a crime", and "I'm a Pimp, and Pimps don't commit suicide", reading the quotes have no meaning until you watch this movie.

Admittedly the film can get confusing and feel scattered especially for the first time viewer. You have to wonder if the writer/director could make sense of his own material, a complex story he wanted to tell, that a 2 hour movie could NOT do justice. It was booed for being too long at the Cannes. The cut screened for critics at festivals long before the re-edited DVD came out was most likely worse, but I've already watched it twice, and I'm still trying to fully understand it. It poses a lot of interesting questions about Time Travel and such, and if you liked Donnie Darko, you may like Southland Tales. If you pay attention it's not that confusing, but the movie can be jarring, it makes sense to a certain degree, but it leaves you questioning, as things aren't fully wrapped up or explained. That's where the David Lynch comparison comes in, which his movies in my mind are far more "out there" than Southland Tales.

There's a lot of cool things in the film, give it a chance and watch it! The Soundtrack ain't bad either.

1 comment:

patrick said...

Dwayne Johnson and J.Timberlake are surprisingly talented actors, still trying to figure out what Southland Tales was about though...