Southland Tales of Nonsense and the End of the World
There are many thins that can be said about Richard Kelly‘s sophomore directorial outing, but the main thing I realized while watching this film was just how much Kelly has and tries to satiate his End of the World fetish. If the Saw series of movies helped to start a theme of Torture Porn, then Kelly is trying to create what I’m dubbing End World porn or trying to make an Epic Comedy, maybe even making both.
The problem is that here, in Southland Tales, it doesn’t work. There are a lot of great actors, some amazing visuals, the camera work and set design were completely enriching and a joy to take in… but the story and characters were completely off the wall. The film was so absurd that people were just laughing at the movie in all the places laughter was not intended. The only actors left unscathed were Wallace Shawn, who I’m convinced can pull off ANYTHING, his description of Liquid Karma, while on a beach in a silver, form fitting jumpsuit was probably the highlight of the film and also, Justin Timberlake (it pains me to say it too). Between his twisted role here (as well as his attempt to make SOME sort of sense of this film’s plot with his narration) and his performance in Black Snake Moan, I could really start to like the guy… if he could stick to movies and drop trying to be cooler than Michael Jackson in the music world.
Just about the only entertaining about the film was finding the Donnie Darko homages peppered through the film, like the posters of the iconic giant bunny mask, a large government agency trying to uncover the secrets to the plot (in Darko it was the FAA, now it’s the NSA with the USIdent system) and his fascination with both the end of the world and character’s getting their left eye blown away from a gunshot.
It is really too bad, this movie featured music by Moby and almost the entire cast of California (Including a heavily makeupped Kevin Smith and Janeane Garofalo was in the film originally, until her role was cut in the reediting that took place after the disastrous reception the film received in Cannes).