Southland Tales

Southland Tales ★★★

Southland Tales: The Cannes Cut

After watching this mess of a movie for the 2nd Letterboxd Festival, I found myself flabbergasted. I wondered how in all gods' names did this not manage to remain lost in that part of everyone's brain where all terribly mediocre and bland movies go to die? How did it manage to remain latent in our memories?
Then I read all those positive reviews by fellow Letterboxd-ers. I couldn't believe we had watched the same movie. The one I saw was nothing more than a YouTube poop 2-hour long video. What was I missing?

And so, I set out looking for the graphic novels that serve as chapter I, II, and III as well as the infamously horrendous Cannes Cut. I found all this porducts and, after taking in consideration everything Cole Bradley stated in his review, I decided to dive down this southland path again.

This second, more complete viewing, was better than I thought.

For starters the awful ten minute exposition dump at the beginning is blissfuly absent. In fact, every instance of this kind of TV exposition scenario is missing.
Then, most of the sequences that created plot holes right from the moment they appear onscreen, are in its rightful order. No longer does Krista ask Cindy to produce her new talk show when that very thing is on the air. No longer do we wonder what the hell was Serpentine doing all along in this movie. The power of actual editing explains all this. Heck, most of the scenes that were cut out for the theatrical version do explain most of the questions that I had during my first viewing, like the fact that Boxer finds a weapon on the blimp for some contrived reason. It is explained, through a terrible voice over narration, but explained nonetheless.
Even Janeane Garofalo scenes (which I still do not understand why were they cut) help carry the story forward, as well as Simon's point in this whole mess. Truth be told, Justin's so-called "sarcastic original narration", actually drives better the theme of lies that Cole pointed out.

Now, does all this mean the movie stops being an utterly stupid mess? Absolutely not. The idiotic thesis that a "pimp" is the most badass person on earth is still present. The mere idea that war veterans would enjoy being called pimps still baffles me. The slow-mo deaths that are supposed to be dramatic for some reason are still there, in slow-mo. The altogether uselesness of Pilot and Christopher Lambert's character is still there. The pointless film-stopper music video is still there. Fortunio is still as unimportant and undeveloped, as is the punk-hairstyle guy. Nana Mae still spends all her screen time sitting down watching TV. That woman that wants to give a BJ to Boxer and knows stuff that she shouldn't know, and gets killed for no particular reason is still unexplained. The ATM is still called an Automated Teller Machine machine. And the ice cream truck still floats to destroy the 4th dimention.
Heck, a second viewing even makes it that more obvious how terrible most of the casting choices were, and how awful these people are while acting something that isn't actually a comedy (much as Richard Kelly would like to think this movie is), but most of the questions that arise during the viewing of the theatrical cut are addressed on this cut of the movie.

And, as bland as the artwork was on the graphic novels, I do believe it is a must read for anyone wanting to experience this story at its fullest. That is, if one is about to watch the Cannes cut. If not, the comics are just a waste of your time.

As much as it pains me to say, after going through chapters 1-6 of this multimedia experience as they were originally intended to be seen, it almost makes this a good movie. Almost.

At the end of the day, Southland Tales is nothing but the pretty stupid story of a mad scientist that wants to conquer the world through alternative fuels (and if that is something you enjoy, I would recommend watching Cars 2 instead, it does it far better. Yes. I just said Cars 2 is better than Southland Tales) woven inside a pretty idiotic and unnecessary retelling of The Book of Revelations, but at least this way, is mildly enjoyable. At least, one can appreciate the effort Kelly did to achieve this much... so as to enjoy it even more when noticing how far away from his objectives he fell, face down to the floor.

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