DIRECTED BY: Richard Kelly
FEATURING: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, Wallace Shawn, Miranda Richardson
PLOT: In an alternate-universe America controlled by a surveillance-happy government, the lives of several Los Angeles residents—including a disabled veteran, a police officer, an amnesiac movie star, and a cell of political revolutionaries—intersect on the eve of the apocalypse.
WHY IT’S ON THE BORDERLINE: Although its many subplots pile weird images and ideas on top of each other, many of them remain totally superfluous, and the film as a whole is a disappointing nexus of influences and half-baked premises rather than a cohesive work of art. However, it does contain some moments of mesmerizing weirdness, and could have a chance of being certified weird in the future.
COMMENTS: To follow up his impressive debut feature, Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly clearly wanted to challenge himself. With Southland Tales, however, he bit off more than he could chew. All of Donnie Darko’s best and worst tendencies are on display (with an emphasis on the latter), but this time the showcase is twice as long, with enough intricate storylines and bizarre sci-fi subtexts to fill a dozen less ambitious movies. With his second film’s epic size, Kelly lost the gently emotional touch that made Donnie’s coming-of-age so poignant; his fiery creative passion is still very perceptible here, but it’s obscured behind layers of apocalyptic razzle-dazzle, broad satire, and sophomoric humor.
In Southland Tales’ alternate timeline, Texas was struck by terrorist nukes in 2005, triggering World War III; this back story is filled in via a YouTube-style montage of video clips and hyperlinks. It’s a genuinely original method of exposition, but alas, it’s a rare example of Kelly’s innovative spirit overcoming his love of non sequitur jokes and stunt casting. While Donnie Darko just had Patrick Swayze’s unnervingly effective performance as a demagogic motivational speaker, Southland Tales crams in a disorienting array of surprise cameos and Continue reading BORDERLINE WEIRD: SOUTHLAND TALES (2006)