Friday, March 28, 2008

Southland Tales

"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted."

Written by: Richard Kelly

Directed by: Richard Kelly

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, Seann William Scott

My rating: 7/10

Notorious is the word most commonly used in relation to this film. It's reputation as a sprawling mess preceded its release by two years. After the event that was Donnie Darko's rise to power, Kelly's second venture was seen as a disappointment to many. It's true that Donnie Darko's sprawling mess worked far better than Southland Tales, but that's not to say there's no merit to be found in it.

It is a chaotic film which jumps from one set of characters to the next, with a good plot that's unfortunately too reliant on having read the prequel graphic novels (at $30 each, I doubt many people did their homework). However, it is one of those movies that if you allow yourself to just go along for the ride, it is a load of fun and actually very clever. It starts with a nuclear explosion in Texas, and continues in Los Angeles showing the repercussions of this event. It boasts a colourful bunch of charcters including a porn star Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar)who has her own political discussion TV show, and Boxer Santoros (Dwayne Johnson)a movie star/prophet who has written a screenplay that apparently predicts the end of the world.

It looks amazing, the futuristic, but not too futuristic look of the film is very interesting, as it is set in the very near future. The film is loosely based upon the Book of Revelations and is about as subtle about its meaning as the infamous Bible book.

An interesting thing about this film is its casting. Kelly cast actors who are almost all comedians (half the cast of SNL) or at least famously tongue-in-cheek (Sarah Michelle Gellar, The Rock). This comic casting is the film's saving grace, in my opinion. Somehow, it makes the convoluted storyline and the grandiose pomposity of the scenario a lot less pretentious. I had a lot of fun watching this movie and I believe a lot of the problem with the intial disillusionment with the film may have been people taking it too seriously. Granted, that's no excuse and the film still is, in fairness, a big ol' mess. However, I believe if you file it under tongue-in-cheek and take any actual social comment or profundity as an added bonus, rather than the other way around, you may just find this film really enjoyable and smart, despite its pandemonium.

- Charlene Lydon 28/03/08

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