Even if the world Kelly's concocted always seems screamingly incoherent, you have to hand it to him. He's made a movie of our messy times that's too ambitious to settle for merely capturing the mess. It actually is the mess.
Southland may be ambitious in its genre-defying abandon, sideswiping science fiction, satire, film noir and melodrama along the way, but it's also exasperatingly convoluted, self-amused and politically sophomoric.
Compared to the seemingly unsalvageable disaster Kelly screened at Cannes, this overcooked folly is a miraculous, Frankensteinian resurrection. Maybe this is grading on a curve, but I'd always rather have an excess of ambition than the opposite.
A colleague recently burbled to me that Southland Tales is "the worst movie of the year," and I could not disagree more. Yes, it's astonishingly bad, but it's far too demented to warrant that ultimate dishonor.