Southland Tales – What The…?


Has anybody else seen this movie? Has anybody else even heard of this movie? I knew nothing about it and just watched it on a whim after seeing the title on the internet. How do I feel afterwards? Unsettled.

It’s another flick from Richard Kelly, who wrote/directed cult classic Donnie Darko. Thought Donnie Darko was a confusing, convoluted mind-f@*k? Ha, wait ’til you see this one; to strike a metaphor, Southland Tales is the quantum mechanics to Donnie Darko’s long division.

Trying to follow the plot is like trying to watch three movies at once. There’s so much going on and so little explanation that I felt like I was running along behind the plot, unsuccessfully trying to keep up. Long story short? By the end, there was a trail of blood running down my neck from my ear canal pooling up next to my clavicle.

I’m pretty sure that Kelly is just challenging us to say that we understood his film. I think he sat down one day and thought to himself, “I bet that I can make a film so f%@#*&g crazy, so unnatural, with such a baffling, overly-complicated, nonsensical plot, that no one will be able to understand it. Yet, there will doubtlessly be jackasses who will profess to get it.”  Bravo Kelly, bravo.


Concerning Kelly’s ulterior goal of making the viewer uneasy, there are two things that I would like to commend him on. The first, and by far the strangest thing about this flick is the casting. Most noticeably, he has comedians playing incredibly non-comedic roles. Jon Lovitz plays a crooked, angry, racist cop. Cheri O’Teri plays a psycho revolutionary. Will Sasso plays a drug dealing, machine gun toting pimp. The list of miscast comedians goes on and on: Amy Poehler, Nora Dunn, Janeane Garofalo, Kevin Smith and so on and so on. Besides the comedians, the rest of the cast is just as strange: The Rock (who really did an excellent job, by the way), Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, John Larroquette (the guy from Night Court!), Sean William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar and none other than the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert.

Ah, but the casting piece-de-resistance: Zelda Rubinstein. You will remember her telling Carol Anne to not go towards the light in the Poltergeist movies. She was damn near 1,000 years old then and that was 1982. Who knew she was even still alive? Richard Kelly, that’s who.

The second thing I’d like to commend Kelly on is how he mysteriously and unexplainably drew me into his movie while keeping me completely unaware of what was actually going on. This movie made no sense. Right from the get-go, I was lost. What’s worse is that Kelly taunts us by starting the movie off with a Power Point-esque plot summary and I still had no idea what the hell was going on. Regardless of my utter confusion, I would have to say that I enjoyed it. It was like smoking some really good reefer; you feel like a retard for a few hours, but you have fun doing it.

Bottom line- this movie is like someone filmed your craziest dream and released it on DVD.

If you haven’t seen it, check it out. If you have, let me know what you thought.



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Filed under Film, Weird

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