Movie Review: Southland Tales

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405336/ 

I’m waffling on this one.  Part of me wants to give it a bad review, part of me wants to give it a decent review. 

The good:  It looks pretty.  Honestly, the shots are great.  The camera work is interesting.  The “motif” I guess you would call it, was kind of art schoolish, but kept your attention. 

The performances were good, and it was really good to see some well-known actors be totally out of character.  The Rock still continues to surprise me, because you would think that somebody who came up as a professional wrestler would be a mediocre actor, but every performance he’s done has been good.  Sean William Scott is good as usual (I also think Stifler is underated).  Buffy the Vampire slayer is passable as a dimwitted porn star.  Justin Timberlake was better than expected, but then for some reason does a musical number, or something. But the best performance was to see Jon Lovitz playing a murderous scumbag.  Plus, Jon Lovitz punched out Andy Dick, in real life, so Jon Lovitz rocks. 

The bad:  The plot is disjointed, and even though I know that’s what the director was going for (come on, this is the guy that made Donnie Darko) this one was just a touch much.  It was too long.  Like way too long.  It started to drag in parts where the multiple-personality plot twists just went on and on. 

And worse than that was the social-commentary.  It was heavy handed and obnoxious.  If you’re going to have social-commentary in your film, even if I disagree with you, fine, whatever, but do you really need to keep smacking the audience in the face.  “Look how edgy I am!  Republicans are bad!  Elephants humping!  SUVs humping!  BAD!  BAD!” 

So the film tries to comment on the Iraq War, George Bush, politics, the environment, energy concerns, the news, terrorism, the Patriot Act, and the media, all during a plot about time-travel, drugs, magic energy machines from the ocean, blimps, marxist terrorists, the end of the world, none of which is actually explained, and I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out if Sean William Scott was supposed to be Jesus.   It feels like it is trying to be serious, and then it morphs into Hudson Hawk. 

So overall, eh… I’d say see it if you’re a movie nerd.  Most of my regular readers will roll their eyes and get sick and tired of the social commentary (look flag draped coffins!  EDGY!) wheras people that live in Berkley will nod as if they get it, (but I don’t really think there’s anything to actually get).  If you’re not a movie geek, save your time and rent something with zombies in it.  Yes, weird, artsy, sometimes annoying, and about 30 minutes too long, even by my relatively patient attention-span standards, my review gives it an ambivelent thumbs sideways. 

4 Responses

  1. The Mrs and I watched the 2008 version of “Day of the Dead”. Don’t confuse it with the Romero original. I’d say it’s worth watching for free, maybe for a dollar at RedBox. A better choice would be to watch the original or read the script. A lot of great ideas didn’t make it into the movie.

    Ever read anything from David Wellington? (Monster Island/Nation/Planet etc?)

  2. I haven’t. But I’ve heard good things about his work. He got started in internet fiction also.

  3. I tried to watch this. Wife rented it because she thought I would like it. After the first few minutes I could tell that I was not going to like it. I can appreciate a certain amount of commentary in a movie (even if I don’t agree with it) but make it interesting and I’d prefer to have to figure it out rather than a straight up attempt at indoctrination. I had decided that I was going to tough it out because she had tried to do something nice by renting a movie she thought I would enjoy. She isn’t even the least bit political and within fifteen minutes she said “I’m sorry, I can’t watch anymore of this stupidity”. I was so very relieved.

    I’d much rather have a movie that just tries to entertain. Slither, for example. We both love that one.

  4. I saw the whole film, and toughed it out, watching it all. Bad decision. I kept waiting for it to get better, but there was only one cool part in it.
    Some Neo-Marxists were trying to fabricate a scene for reality TV where a racist cop shoots an interracial couple, nut a real cop (Jon Lovitz) shows up, and actually shoots the conspiratorial commies.
    I thought that was funny.

    Yes, the anti-republican thread that ran through it was more like a steel cable that transfixed the body of work to left wing dogma. I mean, they had the whokle thing; everyone who was a veteran was either crazy, strung out on drugs, crippled, or all three.

    Total, utter, absolute crap.

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