Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Southland Tales - DVD Review

SOUTHLAND TALES (*1/2) - Starring Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Miranda Richardson, Jon Lovitz, Wallace Shawn, Nora Dunn, Amy Poehler, Holmes Osborne, John Larroquette, Bai Ling, Cheri Oteri, Will Sasso, Christopher Lambert, Kevin Smith, Wood Harris, Lou Taylor Pucci, Curtis Armstrong, Sab Shimono, Beth Grant, Joe Campana, Michelle Durrett, Jill Ritchie and Zelda Rubenstein.
Written & Directed by Richard Kelly.

Ebert once said of Death to Smoochy, it take truly talented people to make a movie this bad. That quote came to me during the movie's only brilliant scene, when war vet Justin Timberlake takes a hallucinegenic and start lip-syncing to The Killers' "All the Things That I Have Done." If the writer/director had more scenes like that, and had cut an hour of running time, this might have been a good movie.

The one scene happens at the 1-hour-15 mark, and that's only halfway through. It's staggering that the final cut was two hours and thirty minutes and adds up to so little.

I won't deny there's a lot going on. Kelly has about 50 ideas and he's trying to smash them all into one picture. We get several minutes of narrated set-up to understand this slightly futuristic 2008, but the deeper we go in, the mroe the story tries to take shape, the less interesting it becomes. Two-thirds through the movie is not the time to start introducing rifts in the time-space continuum. All that does is signal to the viewers that things are going to find a way to get even more confusing and incoherent.

The movie bounces around from sci-fi to comedy to thriller to satire, commenting on politics, music, corporate greed, movies, but rambling in its commentary. This might have worked better as a 600-page book. As a film, it takes the largest, wackiest cast in years and squanders them.

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