Southland Tales

Southland Tales ★★★½

"Just because it's loud doesn't mean it's funny." no wait "Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted." no wait "All the Pilgrims did was ruin the American Indian orgy of freedom." no wait "The fourth dimension will collapse upon itself you stupid bitch." no wait "Once you get on the Bangbus you never get off."

Southland Tales is about... uhh. It is about... a dystopian America after a nuclear attack? An actor and his porn star girlfriend as they stumble on a conspiracy thanks to their magic prophetic screenplay? The transient nature of reality? A transcendental holy war? The Rock's quest to win the tournament and the title at Survivor Series? The danger of military arms races? Something about the republicans? Look, just imagine Magnolia or Kiss Me Deadly if they were so far up their own asses they can't see the sun or if Philip K. Dick hallucinated himself as a hamfisted screenwriter during the Cheney-Bush years.

It is - and this is being generous - nonsense. It happens to be just the kind of nonsense I love though. Visually interesting and embarrassingly over ambitious nonsense. The movie was originally much longer but it was critically decimated during its debut at Cannes which lead to it being hastily reedited by Richard Kelly. It is obvious. The plot lurches almost uncontrollably with entire scenes feeling surreal and out of context. And you know what? That is what I like about it. It is like someone tasked an art school kid with remaking Dr. Strangelove but then gave him a wildly inaccurate recap of the movie while cutting him a gigantic check. Look at that dialog and the wonderful overacting and tell me this shouldn't be the highest budgeted Mystery Science Theater movie to date.

The sheer absurdity of it all makes me completely comfortable in giving this four stars, but I am docking it a half star for the scene where Justin Timberlake lipsyncs to an entire Killers song since it makes me want to cringe myself into carbon - a scene that I want to remind you was deemed so important to Kelly that he kept it in AFTER the drastic cuts, like he probably fought for this scene. Part of the reason I love this movie is because I think Richard Kelly is just awful and greatly enjoy enjoying it for all the wrong reasons.

Wait, I just realized I hate Donnie Darko because it thinks it is way smarter than it is but I love Southland Tales because it thinks it is way smarter than it is. Now I hate myself. Thanks Dick.

WATCH if you want to familiarize yourself with a great option for starting arguments among your movie nerd friends. DON'T WATCH if you aren't a pimp.