Peter Labuza’s review published on Letterboxd:
UPDATE: This became this book . The published went under but contact me by email for e-version.
Revisited this for my thesis on apocalyptic narratives and film noir. This film currently takes up an entire chapter. Since I finished my draft tonight, here's a small excerpt from that:
If we can identify a discourse that Kelly appears to be working through, I would argue his main point is saturation. Like the way low culture overtakes high culture in Kiss Me Deadly, it is that there is simply too much culture and images to handle, here in the form of an all media event. Steven Shaviro notes, “Properly cinematic images are intermixed with a barrage of home video footage, internet and cable-TV news feeds, commercials, simulated CGI environments, and especially sequences in which the film’s characters are watching all of the above on multiple computer windows or screens.” And even though almost all the film’s characters live within the Santa Monica area of Los Angeles, Kelly often connects scenes by these non-classical cinematic images—a character will be watching a screen, which Kelly will then display as the film, only leading to his next shot of showing another character watching that same screen (or even a shot of that person watching a screen of that person watching). In fact, Kelly’s film dramatizes a number of missed coincidences within the physical reality—as Cyndi roller skates home after failing her mission, Officer Roland Taverner emerges from the dumster he fell in, but completely oblivious to Cyndi. In addition to this, every character in some way is some sort of performer—either selling a product, or using a catchphrase, or being a politician. No one can simply “be” in Kelly’s universe; every character must also enact themselves as part of the media saturation. As J. Hoberman notes, “Every aspect of this convoluted narrative is monitored, scripted, and directed from within the movie." Southland Tales suggests less a narrative film than a media event.