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Movie Review: Southland Tales (UK Release)
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Southland Tales
Directed by Richard Kelly
Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott
Rated R
UK Release: Dec. 9, 2007

With a limited release, Southland Tales has arrived here in the UK. I wanted to see it. The obvious reason for that was because of Richard Kelly‘s debut feature “¦ of which I will not go into. And you want to know why? Because Kelly’s first film will inevitably influence you, and you will compare both films.

Watching Southland Tales with zero expectations is the best bet. And that is how I went into this.

Before I go into the basics of the film, I want to tell you about my experience after it. Whilst waiting outside the screen, I overheard a fake-gold bling tracksuited orange-tanned Chav [the local scum in the UK] Girl say to her boyfriend “What the hell was that? I didn’t understand any f*cking bit.”

And so I chuckled heartily to myself.

Why? You look at the promotional poster here in the UK”¦

What does it have? The newly renamed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sean William “Stifler” Scott, Hollywood and Hip-Hop darling Justin Trousersnake, and Sarah Michelle “Buffy” Gellar. I didn’t want to use those titles, but you see, on seeing this, with a sports car and mushroom cloud to boot, a Chav [the cheap-cider-drinker, street corner loitering yob] will make the ill-educated assumption that this is a film they want to see. It seemingly has all the elements to make even Die Hard jealous. Come on, “The Rock” is in it, Stifler! AND Buffy as a porn star! What’s not to love?!

What they did not expect was a relative think-piece.

Perusing reviews, good and bad, and reading on the fact that the crowd booed this at Cannes, I want to state that the critics of THAT crowd are usually the picky type. They are exactly the type that will hate something which confuses their narrow minds while they would rather call a three-hour noir French film of a solitary man smoking a cigarette utter genius. Mein Gott. Although films debut often at Cannes, some films fair better by fanbase and word of mouth”¦think Shawshank Redemption.

Richard Kelly has had the hard task of enduring what bands call the “˜difficult second album’ and you either live up to expectation or you fail.

Sat in the darkened cinema, the tale starts with impressive [albeit distracting] graphics. It sets the tone and somewhat grabs you straight away. The premise of the story is based on some post-apocalyptic scenario and other chains-of-events. Believing that does not help with the story however as it only gets madder from there on in. If you are wish enough, you will see the influences and the homage, and you will see the directors favouritism with some of the character actors chosen, but that just adds to the effect.

To be honest, my experience of the movie will differ vastly to your idea and experience, and I do not wish to delve further to risk spoiling it for you. Reading the reviews of this may or may not help you, and you will certainly come out with more questions than when you went in.

That said, this film is a breath of relatively fresh air in cinema today. You may find it hard to genre bind this, but what the hell, go watch this! I enjoyed it because it tested my intelligence, just to keep up with the deluge of information on offer. It may infuriate some, but not all. The kind of movie that infuriates the hell out of me is The Devil Wears Prada with all its contrivances and utter and sheer ignorance of the audiences’ intellect. My God I loathe The Devils Wears

But apart from that, methinks you will enjoy this, there’s even a hint towards Timecop in there”¦ you’ll see!

Not a mind-bender, but definitely a thinker. It’s either that, or you watch The Golden Compass, that so far, I’ve avoided because Nicole Kidman infuriates me also. And to my lovely American cousins — most British child actors found in films like Compass and Narnia are plucked from obscure posh schools, and their parents have names like “˜Archibald Bookcase’ and “˜Edmund Popplecock’. Not a true representation of the British child population.

So go watch something different!

Hint.

5 Comments »

  1. I won’t lie to you. I love this film. Great review!!

    Comment by Jerry — January 13, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

  2. […] Our UK representative gives us his spin on Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales. […]

    Pingback by poemshop.info — January 13, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  3. I love the poster, i wish i could see it. I’ll have to wait a little while, but i’ll get around to it.

    Comment by sir jorge — January 13, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

  4. So far, “Southland Tales” has not appeared in Wichita — this is not unusual because the MAJORITY of Woody Allen films don’t make it here either. Our “Chav’s” are “red-necks” like Cletus in the “The Simpson’s” — only Cletus is a bit more clever.
    Movies from the director of “Donnie Darko” generally play better in urban areas of America, where people have a fighting chance at triple digit “I.Q.” scores and (mostly) wear shoes in public.
    I’m looking forward to this being released on DVD so I can finally see it.
    Great REVIEW!!!
    As always, you write something worth reading.

    Comment by T.E. Pouncey — January 14, 2008 @ 10:43 am

  5. Dwayne Johnson and J.Timberlake are surprisingly talented actors; but i’m still trying to figure out what Southland Tales was about… maybe it’s really obvious, i.e. life in Los Angeles is blurred, cluttered, flashy and not always meaningful.

    Comment by patrick — April 3, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

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