During a three day heat wave just before a huge 4th of July celebration, an action star stricken with amnesia meets up with a porn star who is developing her own reality TV project, and a policeman who holds the key to a vast conspiracy.
Southland Tales is an ensemble piece set in the futuristic landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Boxer Santaros is an action star who's stricken with amnesia. His life intertwines with Krysta Now, an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and Ronald Taverner, a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. Written by
In the introductory titles, as Pilot Abilene narrates, there is a white map of the United States that implodes towards the screen as he says "Interstate travel visas were required for each state." Right before the map implodes, you can see that the state of Wisconsin is unaligned. See more »
Private Pilot Abilene:
In the aftermath of nuclear attacks in Texas, America found itself on the brink of anarchy.
[overlapping news reports]
Private Pilot Abilene:
World War III had begun.
Private Pilot Abilene:
The accelerated conflict in the Middle East placed significant restrictions on American access to oil. Alternative fuel sources became a lucrative commodity. Americans were transfixed by the terrorist's threat, and were willing to prevent another attack by any means necessary. Military checkpoints were erected at each State line. ...
[...] See more »
After the credits, a logo appears of a thumbprint over an American flag with the words: "DON'T TOUCH ME" See more »
overly-ambitious? probably. puzzlingly dense? certainly. meandering and confusing? absolutely. SOUTHLAND TALES, richard kelly's much-maligned, oft-questioned, studio-crippled but still hotly-anticipated follow-up to DONNIE DARKO is guilty of most of the accusations that critics have hurled at it.
indeed, it's a mess - but it's one of the most beautiful, most engaging, most daring messes i've seen in awhile - especially considering the fact that this is a big-studio film with such an abundance of marquee stars. but it hits on many of the same themes that DARKO did - both metaphysical and spiritual - and that's promising to me, because it's indicative of a singular focus/concept that richard kelly wants to explore in his work. i once read an essay on the cinema of David cronenberg - i can't find it now, so i'll have to paraphrase - it mentioned that the best storytellers often spend their entire careers retelling what is essentially the same story, but executing it in different ways. with only two features under his belt so far, it's premature (downright offensive, some would say) to make kelly/cronenberg comparisons at this point - but if this kid keeps digging into the same subject matter over and over, he's eventually going to produce an honest-to-goodness masterpiece. and that really excites me.
think back to the theatrical cut of DONNIE DARKO, and how mystifying and enigmatic it was on yr first viewing. then think about the director's cut - did it feel "dumbed down" to you? like more exposition had been crowbarred in, so that the film would be EASIER for us to digest? there's some of that going on in SOUTHLAND TALES, and i'm forced to wonder if that was kelly's original vision, or if it was the result of studio interference. alternatively, the director might have gotten so tired of everyone theorising about DD, that he wanted to make certain plot points entirely unambiguous this time out. whatever the case, the end result is one the year's best films, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its flaws.
i've studied the graphic novel and the website, and i intend to delve deeper into both (including the ancillary sites). i might even need to see the film again before it leaves theaters - which will probably be soon, as this thing has "box office flop" written all over it (box office mojo reports a paltry opening-night take of $37,000), and has a "wide release" that includes all of 63 screens.
at present, we can be sure of a three things: ONE, SOUTHLAND TALES has so much going on, that it's literally boiling over, and it's going to take years for people to realise what a treasure this film really is. TWO, there is a TRUE maverick inside the gates of Hollywood, his name is richard kelly, and he's going to be here for awhile. and THREE, nobody rocks the cock like krysta now.
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