Chapter 1: Backstory.
This movie came out in 2007 and for some reason I had never watched it. I like the director’s first movie, [W:Donnie Darko], but something had been stopping me from actually sitting down and watching [W:Southland Tales]. I heard that it was bad, but I’ve liked bad movies before (The Island, Terminator Salvation). Laurel was working on Friday night so I decided that I was bored enough to watch it.
I was unprepared.
To say this movie is bad is a disservice to other bad movies. You know when a movie is so bad it’s good? (Road House) Well this movie was heading there then it would snap back to good for a second, then dive headlong into a shit storm of terrible, then it would try to redeem itself, then it would snap off into a vat of crazy.This movie is so insane that it will make you question your own sanity.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here
Chapter 2: The descent into madness.
About 20 minutes into watching this movie I decided that I’d better start taking notes or I would be able to remember all this. At this point in the movie they’ve already introduced about 15 characters, 35 plot points,Â and nuked small Texas town. If you don’t want to know some major spoilers then I suggest you skip ahead to chapter 3.
I’ve made a color coded key to my notes on the movie, Somehow I think that will make them make more sense.
Questioning the Plot.
Questioning the Director.
Southland Tales NotesÂ 12/11/2009 9:11pm
How many layers can one movie have?
I can’t tell if this is a genius piece of film making or fucking horrible shit. I can’t tell if at any moment they’re all going to snap out of it and start acting like they have in other movie. If this keeps up till the end of the movie then the director gets some kind of award for the most consistently bad acting ever featured in a movie that didn’t have gratuitous amounts of sex in it. This has looped back on itself like 4 times already. I’m barely hanging onto all this knowledge that’s been dumped on my brain. Is it a bad sign when you can only get comedic actors to play in your movie? Every single one of these people, [W:Sean William Scott], [W:Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson], [W:Cheri Oteri], [W:Amy Poehler], [W:Will Sasso], [W:Justin Timberlake]… All Comedians… [W:John Laroquette], [W:Kevin Smith].,… Was this a stroke of genius or a horrible sign. It’s like an art film in that he decided only to make the movie about plot twists. It’s been 30 minutes and they’ve only had twists and exposition. [W:Sarah Michelle Gellar]! Is this satire? or does this movie take itself seriously? The twists are only interrupted by bad dialog. I can’t even tell if the characters are smart and faking this or stupid and in over their heads. Is every character in this movie a mastermind? Boxer really is a wanted man? Why? Was he acting like a fucking weirdo in the car? Maybe this movie should be called “When Characters Act”
… A GIANT FUCKING TOILET.
I’m hanging on by a thread to this plot. These two prosthetic nosed actors are just ACTING THE SHIT OUT OF IT…and then… [W:THE CRITIC]?? Too many Layers. “When Actors Attack” I think the director got a bunch of comedy actors together and filmed it like it was “Bad Boys 2”… Is Bad boys 2 responsible for this? [W:Will Smith] and [W:Martin Lawrence] are both comedy actors…. This is Bad Boys 3! Too many Layers. Is this all inside someone’s head? S.W. Scott’s character, maybe? WHAT THE FUCK. Did I miss Stiffler taking the drugs? These people can’t even skate on their “sweet all terrain rollerblades”. Is this a movie, Inside a Movie, Inside another movie? How is the woman obsessed with the screenplay now in on this. WHAT THE FUCK. Is that commercial serious? Is this a Joke? the Villain from the [W:Princess Bride] is acting again? [W:Bai Ling]? [W:Mandy Moore]? Did this movie just loop back on itself and is “The Rock” playing an actor playing a character in the screenplay that he wrote. Because he has amnesia? WHAT THE FUCK. They were the same as the [W:Neo Marxist Underground]? They can’t act smart? How could they be the heads of an underground terrorist cell, they’re all fucking retarded. Do they know something? Cheri Oteri is a double agent or something?? Every time you think that this is actually is a satire some fucking ultra violent thing happens that is actually impact-full. Codename dream or Stagename Dream? [W:Christopher Lambert], The Highlander? It’s Total Recall mixed with Bad Boys 2…. So The Rock is a bad actor who writes the world’s best screenplay and then lost his memory. Who now thinks that he’s a character in his own screenplay and this porn-star is really fucking him but he doesn’t remember that…
When all this bad acting is around then even good speeches look retarded. ONLY TWISTS. I think that soap opera just broke out. It’s like mental gymnastics just to follow this movie. The nurse is calling him and reading lines from his own screenplay to him? WHAT THE FUCK. Did Justin Timberlake say earlier that his screenplay would forcast the future? now is PBV (Princess Bride Villain) some kind of evil sorcerer/ scientist experimenting on soldiers in Iraq? Now he has unstoppable power? WHAT THE FUCK. What would he want with a finger? OR A HAND? VIOLENCE! is he just some kind of sadist? Is Justin Timberlake some kind of actor or just some fucked up Iraq war vet turned junkie on the experimental drug designed by the Baron Harkonen? (DUNE) Same trippy drug effect here , does that mean this is what SW. Scott was on? WHY DOES A MUSICAL NUMBER BREAK OUT!?
I can just hear the director saying “Smear the blood on your shirt like it would say ‘AFFLICTION’ on the top and pound Budweisers” Is this some kind of jab at the ultra violent, beer swilling MMA culture?
You spend a long time in the dream sequences that you could forget what “layer” you’re on.
So some sadistic scientist created this perpetual motion power generating machine that is capable of changing the world, just to cut people’s hands off and give power to this right-wing patriot act type of administration?? Is this other actor a real porn star, because she ‘really’ can’t act. Now SW. Scott gets high on the drug and just happens to find the only other person that’s also on this drug. It’s like the blind leading the blind. I think Richard Kelly does a lot of drugs and writes movies. It’s like he thinks you actually have to loop a characters plot onto the script of they will fall off. Is this bitch financing this whole thing to finance her independant movie?? WHAT THE FUCK. NOBODY ROCKS THE COCK!? Why do all these drug trips have people chugging beer. Did the Rock and SM Gellar write this? because the dialog just dropped down a level. It’s like these comedic actors are the only ones who while reading the script for this movie can’t see that it’s retarded… they’re probably smoking too much weed and just give up in the middle, but since it’s ‘complex’ they think it’s ‘smart’, so they agree to do it. And porn stars… becaue they’ll do anything! VIOLENCE! Why a shot of spring break? R. Kelly is trying real hard to give this move a message. Beer drinking republican voting college kids are responsible for everything that’s wrong with America and G.W. Bush.Â While he’s so smart to write this movie… TWIST, DOUBLECROSS… NeoMarxist, like the LaRouchies call Obama? HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE PLOT FROM TOTAL RECALL! This whole thing is like a comic book because the plot moves too fast for the image, but just like a comic book each image is well composed and looks good. This movie is twisty like the WANTED comic book and by that I mean overly twisty for such a short book. So they have all this ultra advanced technology but they can’t tell the difference between S.W. Scott and Jon Lovitz? WHAT THE FUCK. If the titles had said “written and directed by Bai Ling” I wouldn’t have been surprised.
This movie is a visual overload.
Kevin Smith looks like Marx in the Marx suite? Nail on the head, Dick. So the Marxists are trying to rig the election, i guess? TWIST! (unnecessary affair double cross coming). WHAT THE FUCK… what is this mega zepplin supposed to do anyway? Just float there and be awesome? So is this part of Boxer’s movie or the real plot of the movie? WHAT’S GOING ON? [W:4th dimension]? Like as in the 4th wall? MONKEYS IN THE 4TH DIMENSION? In the end are they going to say that Boxer is really a character in yet another screenplay, titled “Southland Tales” and they’ll start following around Dwayne Johnson on some reality show? Are they saying that the transporter strips the soul? I’ve always thought that would happen! So now S.W. Scott is the product of transportation and his past before going through the space time rip is all a jumble? SHOT IN THE FACE! VIOLENCE! loop, loop, loop. Rove credit Union, come on…FUCK, MUSIC BREAK! [W:Vanessa Del Rio], I think she is a porn star… she is!Â Theory: If plot points in major tv shows and movies have been advancing in complexity over the years ([W:Freakanomics]), then is this movie just ahead of it’s time? Will this be a disney movie for kids in 30 years? If not, then this is like [W:Girl Talk]’s First album, you have to be on drugs to enjoy it. These are pretty good effects for a shitty movie. So that’s why neither of them can figure it out? They are both fucked on time sickness? So S.W. Scott split in two? You have to kill the twin, it dosen’t transport you it CLONES YOU… and your soul? I think I had a dream about this… No wait, its just [W:The Prestige] MIXED WITH [W:Timecop]! It’s like we’re all on a trip together S.W. Scott, The Rock, and My mind.
Are all of these people actors in our world because they were in this movie? Is this that who comedic actors can never pull off dramatic roles, because they are some kind of soul-less 4-dimensional clones from inside “Southland Tales”? Time tunnels again Kelly? Maybe this movie is a mash-up movie, it’s the Girl Talk of movies. Are they going to dance it out “[W:Romy and Michelle] Style” OH MY GOD THEY ARE! Is the fluid karma generator causing everyone to go CRAZY PILLS? It’s like this must be a parody movie, but everyone is taking it stone cold serious. It’s like the beginning of Austin Powers 2. Is the truck really floating? HAVE A NICE APOCOLYPSE!… ARE THEY GOING TO WAKE UP IN [W:The Rundown]?! Every time they have a plot twist it’s like [W:Girl Talk] changing the song. WHAT THE FUCK.Â Is this movie quoting itself? As the plot points are looping back on themselves they are getting crazier and crazier. So S.W. Scott shook his own hand, thus joining his soul, thus ending the world. So did S.W. Scott forgive himself for shooting Justin Timberlake earlier? Was this whole thing inside Stiffler’s head on one long drug trip/spiritual journey to reach that conclusion? So where does that leave us? I think my 13th Floor subplot would have been cooler.
So either the whole thing was in SW scott’s imagination OR Boxer is… “A bad actor that’s written a screenplay that just so happens to mirror what’s going to happen in the future, who’s part of a govenment conspiracy that has kidnapped him and forced him through a 4th dimensional vortex in the desert and when he wakes up he’s trapped in a cloned/transported body and his memory has been replaced by a screenplay that he wrote… that just so happens to mirror the future.” I think So that makes the whole rigging the election subplot real… and… OK…. IÂ lost it… [W:Jon Lovitz].
Is this movie [W:Showgirls] as narrated by H.I. McDunnah? So when you’re actually supposed to be watching the movie and you think… this writer must have been on drugs beacuse none of this convoluted plot makes sense. It’s because it was all in S.W. Scotts head and we were really watching a drug trip. Are you every supposed to know what’s real? ([W:American Psycho])
He must be charasmatic, because how could anyone give him $20 much less 20 million after he explained this to them. The script pages must have been laced with LSD. I’ll bet that he tricked all these comedic actors into appearing in this movie for free and pocketed 20 million! Dont you see that this was all a distraction from a bank heist. ([W:Loose Change])
This is the most complicated movie ever made.
I’ll bet this was written as a comic book series. The plot is like squashing the whole series of Battlestar Galactica into a 2.5 hour movie.
Richard Kelly needs an Editor.
Chapter 3: What the hell just happened? I blacked out.
After I finished this movie I was actually a little bit crazy. I sat there on our couch wondering if the screenplay that Laurel and I had planned to write would someday come true and therefore the world would end in a plague of wealthy zombies.Â Luckily Laurel called and wanted to get a drink after work so I had to get off the couch and take off my tin foil hat to leave the house. Later I went back and read the Wikipedia entry on the movie and found out some interesting facts.
- So apparently this whole thing is really about how celebrities like Oprah and Brad Pitt can get someone elected… say Obama. And what that means to America. That’s too simple, come on, dream big Kelly.
- This movie made $275,000 but cost $17,000,000… HOLY SHIT, sell stock in that production company NOW.
- So is Richard Kelly insane, yes.”Writing this pushed him to the edge of sanity”, it’s because of the drugs! Stop doing the drugs! or just do less drugs and hire an editor.
- It premiered at Cannes with Mary Antoinette and Fast Food Nation, two other overly-long mixed up films. This might have been the worst triple bill of American films ever to show in France.
The movie is so disjointed that I wouldn’t be surprised if he filmed the whole movie with one direction in mind, then got a horrible review at Cannes and decided to throw in the whole 4th dimension ending as if to say “Just kidding guys! I’m not really a weirdo!” This is like the skinny kid in the locker room saying “Hey there guys, I’m like you, I like monster trucks too”
Kelly described the movie like this “This will only be a musical in a post-modern sense of the word in that it is a hybrid of several genres.”Â So this movie is essentially a slapstick comedy filter on an apocalyptic drama? Richard, do know what happens when you mix all the colors of paint together, it looks like shit. While watching the special features on the DVD it’s pretty clear that nobody really knows what’s going on. Bai Ling refers to it as “The southland in China”. I’ll bet she didn’t even realise that she had filmed a movie. Curtis Armstrong said that the script “had his assistant in tears” but that “He can’t understand it”. Lovitz straight up admits that he has no idea what’s going on in the overall plot but that “He can understand the scenes that he’s in… when the director explains it to him” Did Richard Kelly write a movie so complicated that it would be impossible to follow the plot? Therefore, is the point of this movie to stop questioning the plot and start questioning reality? This whole thing is like a CIA experiment in psychological warfare. It should be played over and over to inmates at Guantanamo Bay.
Chapter 4: My Conclusion, thus making all other chapters obsolete.
My conclusion is that Richard Kelly has written and filmed and un-writable and un-filmable movie. It’s about everything and nothing everything. In a ‘regular’ movie, if you don’t see a character’s mom, then you wouldn’t need to tell the audience what the character’s mom had for breakfast. In this movie you NEED to know that the character’s mom was having an affair with the son of a Marxist German dictator and had just talked to him on the phone while thinking of her sister who is living in North Dakota on an organic farm. Because If you don’t know all these things then the 4th dimension will collapse on itself. This is the difference between fiction and reality, in reality an infinite amount of things are happening at once. In fiction is is the author’s job to select the right amount of details that will make the audience want to know what will happen next.
There is something about this giant mess that’s still exciting to me. In art terms the direction might as well be by [W:John Cage] (chesspiece). The scattershot plot is like a [W:Jackson Pollack] painting. The visual style is like [W:Robert Rauschenberg] sculpture, it’s barely organized chaos mixed with reality. These plot points are not new they are only newly arranged.
If you REALY REALLY want to know exactly what is going on in this movie then you can read the Salon.com analysis. But even after that I challenge you to REALLY know what’s going on.
Schu-Review : 0 out of 5 Schus
Schu-Review : 5 out of 5 Schus
I still can’t tell.