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
Richard Kelly consciously sought out actors that he felt had been pigeonholed and wanted to showcase their "undiscovered talents." See more »
After Pilot Abilene (Justin Timberlake) sings "All These Things That I Have Done", Roland Tavener (Seann William Scott) is found lying on the ground. He gets up and starts to run, leaving his radio on the pavement. Later, we see Roland Tavener walking down the sidewalk with the radio back on his belt. 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 »
Originally running for 160 minutes, Southland Tales premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 to a disastrous reception. Because of this, it was re-edited and shortened in length as part of the distribution deal. Since the shortened version was shown theatrically and released on DVD, the Cannes cut has been shown on Cable TV and DVD releases in Europe. Some of the changes between the theatrical cut and the Cannes cut are as follows:
Opens the same as theatrical cut, with home video in Abilene, except with music ('Water Pistol' by Moby) and runs longer. Video is also shown in its original aspect ratio, instead of cropped for 2.35:1.
Doomsday Scenario Interface is not present in the original cut, it was added to provide background information present in the graphic novels. Instead we have narration from Pilot Abilene explaining the present situation and Treer Corporation.
The meeting between the Baron and Hideo Takehashi takes place much earlier in the film, Pilot explains the Baron dislikes Takehashi.
The character of General Teena MacArthur is more fleshed out in original cut, she mainly communicates with General Simon Theory and the Baron.
Many scenes with dialog between main characters have been extended i.e. scenes with Boxer & Roland, Krysta & Cyndi, Boxer & Starla, Cyndi & Vaughn Smallhouse etc.
Pilot explains that Bart Bookman is an 'angry man' with a willingness to die.
Some events that take place are better explained in original cut e.g. Boxer ringing Fortunio before meeting him, Serpentine explaining her actions at the end.
Features additional effects of the blimp not in theatrical version.
Features music by Moby not present in theatrical version i.e. 'Ceanograph' is heard in scene giving information on the rift, 'Hotel Intro' is heard as characters visit different sections on the blimp.
This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper, but with a bang.
This is a film about all of the seemingly random events that lead up to the end of the world. And it's also a comedy.
That says it all right there, doesn't it?
When this film ended, I ran to tell every one I could find about it. The odd thing I found about it was that I ended nearly every one of these conversations with the following:
"It was amazing, but don't see it. You won't like it."
It's strange to hope that a film I feel so passionately about should not be seen by the very people I want to discuss it with. However, that's exactly the way I feel here. This film is not for everybody; in fact, there are only a precious few out of all of the people who see it that will even tolerate its existence. But you know what? That really isn't important.
Art is subjective, and no matter how many times I bother to explain a difficult concept to somebody who hated this film, I realize that it will never work long before the conversation ends. The problem is that these difficult concepts are actually very simplistic: Richard Kelly had Dwayne Johnson spoof the stereotypical, apocalyptic action-hero throughout the film. This included over-dramatic readings of his lines, delayed reactions and odd vocal dynamics.
What? You say that it wasn't intentional, and that it was just Johnson's poor acting skills?
This is where the small-minded fail to grasp the most simplistic of concepts. The great analytical film student will analyze a crooked frame and declare the brilliance of its intent; they will say that this intentional error supports the themes of the piece. So why does the same not go for Southland Tales?
Each one of these already-marked actors has broken out of their shells for this movie. The fact that everybody stereotypes them attests to Kelly's genius in assigning them the roles; however, it also proves how unfortunately small-minded today's modern audience has become.
Was this film a mess? Absolutely, in every sense of the word. But was it a coherent mess? That's the real question, and I think that I can safely say that it is. This film is nowhere near as difficult to understand as anybody would have you believe. The concepts are straightforward and are practically dictated to you by the narrator; this becomes essential to the understanding of the story, as there is just way too much going on to take in on your own. However, instead of hindering the film, it makes these seemingly unrelated scenes string together into a true tapestry that is worth exploring.
So, you know what? I'm going to go against my own advice and advise anybody and everybody who reads this review to go out and see this film. If you don't like it, don't come back to this website whining about it, because nobody here has the tolerance to explain things to you that you will never understand. No amount of discussion of cinematography, lighting or the fantastically haunting score by Moby is going to change the mind of an already jaded viewer.
But maybe, just maybe, you will like it. You'll get a chance to experience something you're likely to rarely, if never, experience again. Because as all of us who enjoyed the film know:
It had to be this way.
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