Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Last December I reviewed Richard Kelly's surrealist satire SOUTHLAND TALES (**1/2). Here's the link to my original review: http://actionman-nickspix.blogspot.com/2007/12/review-southland-tales.html

Last night, I re-watched much of the film, and I am now thinking that with repeated viewings, this crazy movie might improve. It's a challenging movie to be sure, and I definitely think that it's not a movie for everyone. These types of mind-fuck movies are an acquired taste; you have to want to experience them. Watching SOUTHLAND TALES in a passive state will not work.

What struck me after watching SOUTHLAND TALES for the second time is how much easier some of it was to understand. I am not suggesting that I understand everything that Kelly was after in this film, but re-watching it for a second time really helped to distill a lot of the wild plot threads that Kelly created. It's still too long (I'd say 20 minutes could have easily been cut out of its mid-section) and it's too esoteric for its own good. But it's a daring, ballsy movie with big, wild ideas and it feels like nothing that I've ever seen before.

Like DONNIE DARKO, Kelly's previous directorial effort, this is a trippy piece of work that requires a patient audience. However, SOUTHLAND TALES never came together fully the way DONNIE DARKO did (at least for me). I think that with SOUTHLAND TALES, Kelly bit off more than he could chew. But I'd rather watch something with creative integrity like SOUTHLAND TALES any day of the week before some tepid genre entry like PROM NIGHT or FOOLS GOLD or 10,000 BC. The last 20 minutes of SOUTHLAND TALES still blows me away; it's one of the craziest futuristic views of Los Angeles ever put on screen with some truly hallucinatory imagery.

I still think the best thing that Kelly's been associated with was his screenplay for Tony Scott's masterpiece DOMINO, which is probably one of the most underrated movies of this decade. I've been itching to write a formal reivew for DOMINO these last few weeks; hopefully soon I will have the time to write something up.

Kelly's next film is the much more conventional sounding (at least on paper) supernatural thriller THE BOX, which stars Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kelly injecting his newest film with some sort of subversive undercurrent. Or maybe he won't; maybe he'll play it totally straight and safe. If he ever wants to direct another studio film again, he better make a movie that's more commerical and accessible to mass audiences. I just don't want his creative instincts to become neutered as a result of Hollywood trying to dumb the filmmaker down.

Kelly is one of the film world's most unique talents. His desire to meld aspects of graphic novels, comedy, drama, action, science-fiction, social and political satire, and music-video culture into SOUTHLAND TALES is proof to me that he's someone worth paying attention too.

I'd love to hear some thoughts on SOUTHLAND TALES from other people out there.

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