Southland Tales. As in Tales from Southern California, but a different California, where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is an action star turned prophet, Justin Timberlake is a veteran of Iraq, Sean-William Scott is actually a pair of twins, and Sarah Michelle-Gellar is a porn star named Krysta Now. “No-one rocks the cock like Krysta Now.” Or so we’re told. You never actually see her rocking the cock, and she is more than welcome.
But the film doesn’t try and pander to the type of audience who want to see a flash of tits. Actually, it doesn’t pander to anyone. It is by far and away the most experimental film to come out of Hollywood recently, if you discount David Lynch.
First of all, the film version of Southland Tales is actually chapters four, five and six. Hey if Star Wars did it… The first three chapters are found in the Southland Tales graphic novel, which actually makes more sense in itself and of the film as a whole, explaining the various theories behind the film, whereas the film itself drops the audience in the middle of a world that is far removed from the one we live in.
There is wi-fi energy known as Fluid Karma, a screenplay written while under the influence of drugs that foretells the End Of Days, and some freaky time travelling. So, everything you would expect from the brains behind Donnie Darko.
The film is a mess, but an interesting one. Part of the disconnected plot is concerned with the enigma that is the Book Of Revelations found in the Bible, and you could view this as its modern cinematic counterpart. Some view Revelations as a puzzle to be solved, containing a code to be dissected. Richard Kelly’s film is trying to push this, using the graphic novel and the film’s website to further the story and the puzzling plotlines within, quite literally forcing the audience to actively seek it out, or, as most people did, walk out of the cinema.
While this cross-media, story/puzzle thing is a bold move, the film should stand on its own legs, which, sadly, it does not. It’s weird and wonderful, annoying and infuriating, littered with great performances and godawful ones. It will no doubt follow Darko in becoming a cult film, especially on DVD.
We do not recommend seeing this film, but you need to see it. It is the road less travelled.