Southland Tales

Southland Tales ★★★★★

"I'm a pimp. And pimps don't commit suicide." - Boxer Santaros/Jericho Kane

How has this not got more love? Why do people hate it? Southland Tales is one of the most beautiful messes ever made. It's a complex, layered, patchwork masterpiece of immense proportions. So what if it doesn't make sense? That's the entire point! The comedy of the film spawns from its disgracefully meta basis: Boxer and Krysta's script is meant to be some god-awful, nonsensical hokum, and this is precisely the premise of the film itself. Accept this, and you've got an under-rated gem.

This being my second proper viewing of Southland Tales, I like it much, much more. With all of its ideas and plot points firmly grounded, you can enjoy it's weird, little nuances. The secondary characters shine, with Christopher Lambert stealing the show from the sidelines as a hopelessly entertaining and hopelessly pointless gun-runner in an ice-cream truck.

Casting-wise, too, it's pretty perfect. Using A-listers who specialise in action movies, juvenile comedies and sexy high-school thrillers (after all, teen horniness is not a crime), they fit like gloves in their roles, despite playing ridiculously against type. Sean William-Scott is rather brilliant in playing two roles that are essentially the same (you'll see...), but there's genuine fear and sadness in those eyes.

Richard Kelly's screenplay is sprawling and filled with holes, which is all probably a product of the harsh cuts forced on Kelly by its critical savaging at Cannes, but there's absurd amounts of fun in attempting to connect it all together. The storylines overlap and interweave, like some strange, futuristic cousin to Pulp Fiction, and it all adds up, surprisingly enough. As a director too, Kelly succeeds. With a small budget for a potentially big budget idea, there's supremely innovative visual style on show here. The flight of the Mega-Zeppelin is a sight to behold, and the sometimes ropey CGI adds to the hazy atmosphere of the heat of the Southland.

I love this movie. I always liked it when I first saw it in the baking heat of summer 2012, but now, in the freezing cold of March 2013, Southland Tales is remarkable escapism.

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