Southland Tales (2008)

Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bai Ling, Sean William Scott, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore
IMDB: 6.4

After the success of 2001's Donnie Darko, it took director Richard Kelly 5 years to complete this his next movie, and another couple of years for it to finally be released. It's been a long wait.

Based in an apocalyptic alternate future, this is at its core a sci-fi movie... but so much more. This is a world that we all can relate to, as its our own extrapolated a few years into the future: resource wars, alternate energy sources, reality chat shows hosted by pornstars, and real-time non-stop information overload ...

It's this last theme that the movie itself is presented within - a world awash in information, much of it redundant and inane. (Eg: The reality-show pornstars debating the ramifications of taking a morning-after pill while crossing the international dateline). Obviously this is a direct reflection on today's media landscape ... Kelly simply exaggerates it for emphasis.

Many reviewers have criticised the movie for being jumbled and a mess. And while its true that it covers a wide range of ideas and concepts within its runtime, any plot utilising parallel dimensions is by its very nature going to be somewhat more difficult than average. The fact that Kelly even attempts to address so many issues relevant to the current zeitgeist is more than most films have done this year. If not everything gels as perfectly as it could, then so be it. I'll take an ambitious failure over a conservative success any day.

There are a wide range of characters and cameo appearances ... Sean William Scott (better known as Stiffler from American Pie) plays two roles and does a surprisingly good job. Bai Ling brings her unique brand of sass to the role of Serpentine, and I never get tired of watching her perform.

Sarah Michelle Gellar breaks the mold as pornstar Krysta Now ('if you wanna fuck me, you can fuck me NOW'), and delivers some of the movies funniest moments. Even Justin Timberlake as a drugged-up Iraq veteran lip-syncing a hallucinated song and dance sequence (to the Killers 'All these things that I've done') is a standout.

Like Donnie Darko, music plays a big part in Southland Tales ... songs by The Pixies, Muse, Janes Addiction, The Killers and more play a central role. The rest of the soundtrack was created by Moby. This is a movie that needs to be played loud :)

In summary, this film is intelligent, funny, sexy, and surreal - rich with ideas, and backed with excellent music.  In my opinion this is the best movie out of Hollywood in quite some time. For some reason it speaks to me on a personal level that few movies do.

My rating: 10/10




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