Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Southland Tales: 2007 - Have A Nice Apocalypse

Film Review: So my movie watching MO is this: I spend two or three weeks watching one or two films a day, then months without watching another. It's because I get bored. I screen a lot of films - probably around 150 a year. There is so much crap out there, but I usually stick to pretty good movies. This movie intrigued me the most in the past few years. It is confusing, certainly, but it is coherent to a point - coherent enough for me.

Remember the wonderful Donnie Darko? This is Richard Kelly's next film. This man is damn good at making interesting movies and story lines. The story centers on the lives of important government officials, an actor, a porn star, a scientist and his eccentric posse, and an ex-soldier. I have said many times that one of my favorite books of all time is The Divine Comedy, and to me, this is exactly in the same vein as that satirical and serious piece of literature. At times uproariously funny, uncomfortably funny, heartbreaking, ironic, heartwarming, scary, and fun, this movie embraces unpredictability and pulls it off absolutely brilliantly.

From Justin Timberlake as the blood covered ex-soldier tripping he's in a Killers music video (above) to The Rock being, well, squirrel-like (below), this movie broadsided me. I came into it expecting another great film like DD, but walked away with what may be the best film of the century so far. I know that's a lot to say when the movie gets only 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, but come on, just because it is dense does not make it bad. The density made me want to unpack the film and try to understand more of what was happening. But I completely revel in the unknown. I absolutely love that I do not understand this film entirely. I have never experienced that in cinema before. But not just its' density, its' beauty and passion and quirkiness strong-arm me into wanting to understand it more and more. In short, I understand enough of the film to be able to follow it and want to unpack the rest of it.

Because this movie was completely unexpected and pulled whatever it pulled off stunningly, I would give it a 90% and it is that low only because the cinematography is fairly standard. Kelly has set a mood and a stage, then allowed a story to evolve in them that takes my breath away every time. It is satirical at points. It is scary. It is overly dramatic. It makes fun of itself. It makes fun of absolutely everything. And I love it.


Collin said...

I'm a big Donnie Darko fan, so I added this to my list even though the reviews have been terrible.

Radish King said...

I just watched it. I was uncomfortable and confused for about 20 minutes and then I was completely sucked in. I didn't budge. I need to watch it many more times. It's a terrible beautiful funny odd movie. Richard Lambert! Good god, the entire cast is a joke, a good one, a joke that made me laugh through the entire movie. Love it. Thanks, Norm.