reibureibu’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted."
This is it. This is it right here. A throwaway line from a porn star now running a reality show, yet a key to understanding the film as a whole.
Southland Tales is a film about the future, but not just any future; no, it is about the future when it becomes warped and twisted by our perceptions of what the future should look like along with what the future will likely be and how our collective outlook moulds that final picture. The outcome? A cutting-edge society that has learned how to harness things such as ocean waves for perpetual motion machines that result in an alternative energy supply dubbed "fluid karma" (what it should look like), but with the caveat that this process is actually destroying the world slowly but surely and the industries controlling it do not care for it is making them incredible amounts of money (what it will likely be) and that it is run by a smurf oligarch who can only be stopped by the unlikely team of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Steve Stifler, and Justin Timberlake (what our generation moulds it to be).
Yeah, I don't know if Richard Kelly intended to parody the self-seriousness found within the sheer absurdity of Donnie Darko, but he does so with aplomb here as the whole runtime of Southland Tales reads like a self-aware Wattpad conspiratorial fanfic where every ridiculous plot development is met with an equal and opposite ridiculous plot development, doubling down on everything it throws at the wall with an even bigger, better kitchen sink. Where it starts off fairly accessible it soon becomes overwhelmingly complex, with every character having their own agenda that half the time leads nowhere except, of course, more zany antics for us to feast on. "This is the end times, goddamnit, and I'm going to have some fucking fun before we all die" says Kelly. That's cool man, I'm absolutely here for it.
There is nothing else like this, truly, and it is a miracle that this even got made in the first place. I genuinely believe this is one of the most forward-thinking film-making where Kelly was able to tap into the post-ironic millennial milieu before it became predominant in the early 2010's, and to do so with this density on this grand of a scale while also applying it to very-real fears people had of a post-9/11 regime is a tribute to how visionary his mind is even back in 2006. You don't just accidentally stumble upon a film like this, you don't just accidentally miscast every single actor in here, you don't just accidentally write a script that weaves together the absurdity of post-modernism taken to its highest highs with the bungled mindset of a QAnon conspirist, no, this is truly artistry on the highest level that few are familiar with and even fewer can appreciate; no one else makes films like Kelly, and sadly I don't think we'll see more like this anytime soon.
"When the shit hits the fans, it all smells the same."
It's too bad this all-but-ended his career though. Richard Kelly, you flew too close to the sun, and with that you died for our sins. I salute you. Godspeed.