Southland Tales

Southland Tales ★★★★

I had always been aware that this was marketed as “the second half” of a broader multimedia experience, but I figured it was just marketing spin and there was some thin supplemental material out there meant to increase ancillary revenue.

But then yesterday I finally read the graphic novel “prequels” and it turns out, no, Richard Kelly really did just create a 6-chapter story and then only shoot and release chapters 4 - 6. So a movie I had previously thought was hopelessly muddled and disjointed actually makes perfect sense as the second half of the story proper, it just requires the viewer do a homework assignment only the smallest fraction would ever do, and leaves everyone else to buy a ticket to what ends up feeling like jumping into a TV series on season 4. In awe at the madness of this lad. Absolute unit.

Now being able to finally absorb the full scope of the story, though, I can confirm my longstanding suspicion that this is the ultimate cinematic encapsulation of the Bush era, at least from where I’m sitting. It absorbs all the iconography of 2001 - 2007 American life and then vomits it back up in the form of this giddy, garish narrative of bone-deep hopelessness enacted by SNL alumni. The fact that my other main option for “ultimate Bush era movie” is Step Brothers should indicate the parameters of my analysis. It was such a seriously stupid time, and it can only be embodied by a stupidly serious movie.

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