Southland Tales

Southland Tales ★★★★★

"I have this reoccurring dream... I wake up in this dungeon and the walls are made of sand, as I slowly work my way though this maze, approaching a light source at the end, guess who's there waiting for me?... you."

Finally got around to reading the graphic novels... there's so much here that is elaborated on, so many things that are felt in the film that aren't necessarily stated—I never fully comprehended the tragedies of Boxer and Roland's inability to remember their true identities, being manipulated as pawns. I always felt the link between them in the film, but the prequel saga really plays up their interconnection as two souls lost in a world collapsing beneath their feet. There is such a strongly felt melancholy in the scenes between Boxer and Roland... where just as the two of them are unsure of their placement in all of this, so are we as an audience. If anything, Kelly's way of structuring this world into two different mediums allows for the film to exist on its own terms as a fully cathartic, sublime, and incomplete work of pure cinema. Kelly didn't expect for everyone to read the graphic novels (nobody likes doing homework, especially for a movie), and that's the point. Why read something when you can feel it?

I think where this film succeeds in comparison to Kelly's other films (I like Donnie Darko well enough, haven't seen The Box since it came out but wasn't all that impressed) is in the way in which Kelly interjects his politics into the narrative. His other two films seem to separate these two elements, in which political/social satire acts as a flimsy layer above ludicrous sci-fi plotting, whereas here Kelly has built the politics completely into the narrative to the point that they are inseparable. The world here is so interconnected that even the more outlandish, fantastical elements such as quantum entanglement (that I would in any other film probably dislike) feel germane to the film's central thesis: an additional attack on U.S. soil, post-9/11, would result in the collapse of Western civilization. This is why the film feels so ahead of its time yet also very much a product of the Bush era—this is the road not taken, in which the end of capitalism is accelerated by nuclear warfare. We know how this is all gonna end, it's only a question of how much time we have left... this film is far more logical than even its most avid of defenders give it credit.

You try so hard to be cold
You try so hard to not show
I give you nothing to doubt and you doubt me
I give you all that I have but you don't see

Now I know that my eyes must close here
Every word seems to feel like you don't care
But I know that you're so confused and afraid
I just want to be one true thing that don't fade
I don't want to give up tomorrow
I just can't understand why we're going on

You try so hard to be heard
You try so hard to not hurt
I give you nothing to doubt and you doubt me
I give you all that I have but you don't see

Now I know that my eyes must close here
Every word seems to feel like you don't care
But I know that you're so confused and afraid
I just want to be one true thing that don't fade
I don't want to give up tomorrow
I just can't understand why we're going right

I don't want to be sad
I don't want to be sad
I don't want to be sad

No other film has made me so fearful for the end of the world and yet so grateful to be alive.

baradetski liked these reviews