Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Southland Tales

5 years ago, a little movie came out called Donnie Darko. It spread like wild fire and since then, everyone has been waiting to see what Richard Kelly would do next. Well, Southland Tales was released in theaters to awful reviews and it did so poorly, it dropped out before many people could get a chance to see it. I was one of the many. Now the DVD is upon us and everyone can attempt to watch this baffling movie.

I don't think I am properly equipped to critique Southland Tales. I only understood it on a very literal level. And even then just barely. But I will try nonetheless. For the first half of the movie, we are treated to wonderfully random people doing ridiculously random things. It sounds pleasant, and it is for the most part, but the whole time I was thinking to myself, I hope I don't need to understand all of this. A lot of it went right over my head. I mean, I understood the basics: It's set during WWIII in a pre-apocalyptic California, there's an election, Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) is being hunted by mostly everyone, and there's Neo-Marxists that are against the politicians (which look to be Republicans but that's never explicitly stated).

I know there's plenty of symbolism, undertones, and metaphors that flew right by me but that's not to say I didn't enjoy Southland Tales. From a technical standpoint, it was an artfully crafted film. It was visually beautiful and the soundtrack was impeccable. The Pixies' Wave Of Mutilation was used in a way that will surely be remembered and there was probably the coolest version ever of The Star Spangled Banner performed live by Rebekah del Rio & The Section Quartet.

One of the greatest parts about this movie was seeing the person you'd least expect pop up in the next scene. The cast in Southland Tales was quite possibly the most ambitious and all-encompassing cast I've ever seen. Anybody and everybody is in this: Wallace Shawn, Zelda Rubenstein, Curtis Armstrong, Jon Lovitz, John Larroquette, Christopher Lambert, Abbey McBride (the voice of Ling-Ling on Drawn Together), Beth Grant, Kevin Smith (with a gray beard!), Miranda Richardson, Cheri Oteri, and Amy Poehler. And then there's the famous pop stars: Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Sara Michelle Gellar, Sean William Scott, and Dwayne Johnson. The best part, however, was the half a second shot of Janeane Garofalo in army fatigues, dancing with Justin Timberlake. Don't miss it.

I'm sure there's a lot some people could tell you about Southland Tales and how deep it is. And that may appeal to you, so watch it for that if you choose. But there's plenty more to watch it for. Watch it because it's from Richard Kelly, or because the soundtrack is great, or because you'll never see another movie with this kind of cast, or you could just watch it because it's awesome.

1 comment:

patrick said...

Dwayne Johnson and J.Timberlake are surprisingly talented actors; but i'm still trying to figure out what Southland Tales was about... maybe it's really obvious, i.e. life in Los Angeles is blurred, cluttered, flashy and not always meaningful.