Southland Tales Reviews
I will start off with some of the technical flaws of this film. The first being the length. This movie is over 2 hours long and it really didn't have to be, I believe Kelly wanted to show as much of this strange and exaggerated world as possible but it eventually becomes tedious and you are left yearning for a conclusion as soon as possible.
Onto the next flaw, the acting. This is has to do both with the large cast and the casting. I will say that this cast is varied, we have actors, comedians, musicians, and even a wrestler, and they're all acting. To put it simply, the musicians are the weakest part of the cast. Timberlake and Moore really have sub-par acting. Moore more so, she is quite simply horrible. I will give Timberlake some points though as even though his performance was sup-par, this is the best I've seen him in so far, so at least he is improving. Bai Ling though also gave a horrible performance, she was trying way too hard.
The rest of the cast gives great performances, especially The Rock and Gellar. Sean William Scott is also pretty good. One final tiny flaw in the acting, there were so many actors that it becomes somewhat overwhelming to remember who is who and with so many, each one doesn't get much screen time. Also, where the fuck was Kevin Smith? I've looked and looked and I still can't find him!
The story in itself is somewhat of a flaw. The plot of Southland Tales is very complex and confusing, I will admit. And people say the same thing about Donnie Darko, but I disagree. In my opinion, it lets the viewer come up with their own interpretations on what exactly is going on, something that I love about Kelly's films. I will say though that having to read 3 graphic novels to get the complete story was not really a good decision on Kelly's part. I understand that it was probably so that the film wouldn't be any longer than it already was, but I think he should of just broken it down into 2 films, but that also brings problems. Either way, you don't necessarily need to read the graphic novels to understand whats going on, as Kelly tries to fill in those holes throughout the movies, but I can understand why people will be annoyed and criticize it. Kelly did a similar thing in Donnie Darko, but in that case the reading material was not as essential as it is here, as in Darko the viewer is more free to create their own explanation than in Tales. Finally, there is the criticism that this film is pretentious, and that so is Donnie Darko, which I disagree. Both movies are complex and intricate which may look pretentious to some. In Tales its the fact that it is so over the top, but I think that's really one of the things that makes the film great. The only thing I will agree with that is a bit pretentious and unnecessary in Tales would be the Bible scriptures that Pilot (Timberlake) quotes often, and the overt symbolism. But that's it.
This movie overall is about the ridiculousness of the world we live in, especially the United States. That's the main idea that I got out of it. It shows the stupidity and hypocrisy and what they can lead too, a future that many will scoff at but one that I believe is quite possible with the way things are going. And it does this while being very satirical and full of black comedy and dealing with sci-fi elements, quantum physics, mysticism, and consciousness.
Finally as for the technical aspects of the movie, I will say that the editing in the movie could of been better. The camerawork was good, the special effects were used subtlety but well. And as for the music, it was perfect. Just as in Donnie Darko, Kelly sets the atmosphere and setting perfectly with the music choice, this is something that he really has a nack for.
In the end, this movie had a budget of $17 million dollars and made less than $500 thousand, it bombed and it bombed hard, just like Donnie Darko. Most people hated both and those that will see them will as well. Kelly seems to have a niche market which is a shame because I think he is truly a talented director. It seems that most people just don't want to think while watching movies anymore, which is a shame as Southland Tales is one hell of an experience that is distant but at the same time closer to reality than almost any other film.
Far more ambitious than "Donnie Darko", Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales" is not as successful a film but is not deserving of its 36% Rotten Tomatoes score or its reputation as a mess. It's a freaking oddball of a movie, replete with amazing detail and populated by a mostly intriguing ensemble cast.
Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson is surprisingly funny, and Sarah Michelle Gellar reminds us how wasted her talents have been by hollywood.
Where this grand opera of apocalyptic chaos falls flat is with the casting of Sean William Scott as a central character. He's got no screen presence and he's kinda boring to watch, so the film, and its spidery narrative, lacks a keystone.
Still, it's an incredible film - something like a bastard child of Magnolia and Pulp Fiction, made with Kelly's stylish melding of cinematography and carefully considered soundtracking, literally breaking into a Justin Timberlake-led video clip at one point, and effectively so. It's worth watching.
as someone who loved Donnie Darko (theatrical more so than the Director's Cut) I had high hopes for this...but never watched it due to the large consensus of poor reviews. Ultimately I'm glad i watched it, but it's a interesting jumble of a facinating mumbling mess. It's... how do I put this; it's like being at a gathering of friends who are all high as fuck and you're the only sober one. they are being super pretentious, talking a lot of nonsense about time/space and the universe and you're just all "wow...I wish I was as high as you all were because you all just sound stupid right now.". and it's sincere because, damnit, this movie has charm...it's unique...it's.. it's also gloriously ridiculous and it just kindof fails so spectacularly.
Lo and behold, in reality, I liked it.
I can't pretend I fully "got" it. But I definitely "liked" it.
It's no Donnie Darko, but it's better than The Box. It's a shame Richard Kelly stopped working, even if I haven't loved everything he's brought out, I absolutely adore his style.