Southland Tales: The Way The World Ends

Posted: April 30, 2015 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

southland tales

“There’d be a lot less violence in the world if everyone just did a little more cardio.”

In 2001, Richard Kelly released his debut feature Donnie Darko, featuring early performances from Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal (as brother and sister of course). Co-financed by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films company, Donnie Darko didn’t receive much recognition upon its initial release. Over the years the film gained a cult following, eventually leading to an extended director’s cut that had a limited theatrical release. That following led Kelly the opportunity to create Southland Tales, a project that requires three comic books and a two and a half hour movie to tell its story.

Dwayne Johnson plays Boxer Santaros, an actor with political ties and a script foretelling the end of the world, mysteriously stricken with amnesia. There’s Sarah Michelle Gellar as Krysta Now, the porn star who hopes to build a Kardashian like brand. Sean William Scott is Ronald Tavernor, a twin who believes he is exposing racist law enforcement, but is really a part of a larger conspiracy he is unaware of. These are just a few of the characters in a society under constant government surveillance and internet censorship. There’s also “Fluid Karma,” a never ending energy source created by motion of ocean currents. The consequences of utilizing this energy source are the wet dreams of physics geeks and might not entirely make sense to those who don’t pay close attention to the film.
The plot sounds like it belongs in the science fiction section, but like Donnie Darko, the film is hard to classify. Yes, there’s plenty of science fiction, but it’s incredibly funny with plenty of one liners that make perfect tweets. There’s interesting casting choices, including  Cheri Oteri in a memorable role as a foul mouthed anarchist and Justin Timberlake as an Iraq War veteran who narrates our story. Kelly directs Southland Tales with his signature style of beautiful tracking shots, long takes, and vibrant colors, drawing your attention closer even if you are having a hard time making sense of what is going on.
It’s definitely a frustrating movie to watch the first time around, but you don’t mind watching it again and again. The theories surround space and time are fascinating (to me anyways) and allows Kelly to bring in concepts of time travel and alternate realities. Accompanied by music from Moby, Southland Tales is a revitalizing experience and hope that, like Donnie Darko, finds its audience on Blu-Ray and DVD.
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