Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Southland Tales

"This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper but with a bang."

Rotten Tomatoes gives this film 36% fresh which is pretty damn low. A lot of the complaints leveled at it are how messy it is, how it tries to juggle too many themes but never really concentrates on one message. Yet there is another general feeling one can get from the reviews, that only a movie this messy could come from someone with talent. Enter Richard Kelly the man behind Donnie Darko which is a brilliant film about destiny, family, sacrifice and time travel. This movie was confusing yet seemed to keep on track thanks to wonderful performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jena Malone and a real grounding thanks to the family dynamic. Southland Tales was to be the big follow up and yet people turned against the man.

Now with that little intro out of the way let me just say I LOVE SOUTHLAND TALES. This would be in my top ten movies and it has pretty much made me a follower of Richard Kelly for life. I will give any movie of his a chance just so I can hopefully see another movie of his that can capture the visual poetry of Southland Tales.

Why does this movie speak to me?

I could go on about acting, etc but really for me it's all Richard Kelly. The future he presents isn't that far from our own, it's an exaggeration of our reality and highlights some of the worst aspects of who we are. Apathy, anger, paranoia, fear. The villains presented in this movie are all too human and the heroes all too flawed. This is the end of the world and we don't really notice at all as it all ticks away.

Really this movie is damn ambitious and I don't think I can argue that it isn't a mess, but I don't think every movie has to move from a to b, and more importantly not every movie has to make sense. When I was at university there were so many artistic movies that were praised but didn't have much structure it was all about the emotions they could illicit. There is structure to Southland Tales but for me what I feel when watching the movie more than makes up for the mess. If a movie can wrap me up in some serious emotions and make me think about important themes then hasn't it succeeded?

People didn't come gunning for Kelly when they watched this movie but I don't think they really gave it a chance. I do hope that in a few years time maybe new eyes can come back to Southland Tales and really appreciate it for what it is. There are a lot of things happening in this presented world and so there are a lot of things happening in the movie, but don't you find it funny that world is still just moving on business as usual? Isn't it weird horrible things are happening yet there seems to be a general apathy in the society portrayed in the movie? Maybe the mess is the message or maybe i'm reading too much into it but I would recommend people giving the movie a shot.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the party is over. Have a nice apocalypse. "

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