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Josh Steinberg

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Josh Steinberg
Southland Tales is nearly impossible to categorize, a wild tapestry of ideas ranging from the satiric to the dystopian.  Richard Kelly’s follow-up to Donnie Darko presents the writer/director with a larger tapestry than his debut film, and while it feels unfinished, its uncompromising vision makes it a film worthy of reappraisal.



Southland Tales (2006)



Released: 07 Dec 2007
Rated: R
Runtime: 145 min




Director: Richard Kelly
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller



Cast: Carlos Amezcua, Curtis Armstrong, Robert Benz, Todd Berger
Writer(s): Richard Kelly



Plot: During a three-day heat wave just before a huge 4th of July celebration, an action star stricken with amnesia meets up with a porn star who is developing her own reality TV project, and a policeman who holds the key to a vast conspiracy...

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Reggie W

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Pike Bishop
Excellent review and impressed with your rating and thoughts on the picture. This is certainly what I would call a "cult" film as there seems to be a small but very enamored group of fans and then, of course, a group of people that really don't like this picture as well as many more that have never seen it.

Probably most people that bothered to check this out did so because they enjoyed Donnie Darko and I think that Southland Tales became a litmus test for the fan base of that film. It probably drove away many Darko fans while entrenching others with a love for Kelly's style.

I'm in your camp though, Josh, and find this picture misunderstood and yes, probably a solid film for our times...and I do really like this one. It is brimming with ideas and it is off the rails in terms of the presentation. Shame he was never able to finish it in the manner he wanted to. I thought it was a great follow-up to Donnie Darko but due to the fact that it is satire...well...I think it loses most people. Well, that and as you point out all the characters and winding plot probably leaves a lot of people just throwing in the towel on it.

To me the picture it most reminds me of is Terry Gilliam's Brazil. It's wacky characters, all over the place plot, and an over ambitious director grasping for the moon pretty much, for me, place it firmly in Gilliam territory. Like Gilliam though he does have something he is trying to say and sort of hilariously/unfortunately the characters in this film seem like characters we have to see in our real lives today. Following wacky theories and attempting to manipulate people for their own gain and all of them not too bright but certainly somewhat dangerous in their own self absorbed ambitions and potential to have others follow them down the path to ruin.

I doubt this will ever be a widely loved picture but it will always have the little cult that likes it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Thank you, Reggie! Appreciate the kind words. I was very excited to do this one. I remember first seeing the movie in 2008 and being really enamored with it - my then roommates and I watched it and really got what it was going for. I hadn’t seen it for a while and I wasn’t sure how it was going to play today, and I was really surprised at just how well it held up and seemed to predict this moment in time.
 

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