george’s review published on Letterboxd:
Managed to catch the last chapter of this again. Southland Tales is a movie unlike any other. It could be described as a mashup of Blade Runner, Brazil, Strange Days, Repo Man, Pulp Fiction and Mulholland Drive. It's the kind of movie that can only be made after a filmmaker makes a very successful movie, in this case Donnie Darko.
I eagerly anticipated this movie when it was coming out, bc I was obsessed with Donnie in high school. This movie was to work in tandem w 3 prequel comics and the US-IDENT website. I went to this website many times when I was in college, as I often had little else to do.
Then they showed it at Cannes, and the hype went downhill from there. It was dumped onto DVD w terrible artwork (the artwork seen here, and yeah its bad.) I went to Wal-Mart at midnight to acquire my copy the day it was released. I was supposed to wait until the next day to take the DVD to my friends house so we could watch it. I couldn't wait, however, so I put it on when I got back home and watched the first hour.
Well. It was terrible. I hated most everything about it. The viewing experience was only matched by the watch the next day with my friend, who hated it even more than I did.
Southland Tales is a very lugubrious experience. It's entirely devoid of energy, and also very potent. The editing and storytelling is the exact same as the horrendous Donnie Darko directors cut, which I've still never finished. It seems like it needed 10 million more to make this actually look good (some parts do look good, other parts no.) It alternates from being alienating and intoxicating at any given moment (at the height of it's BS it decides to throw a guy projectile vomiting for nearly a minute.)
But then I kept watching it. My need of this continued to raise, and now I see it as the only place I can go to get these actors, these scenes, and these themes. Anyone looking for lack of pretention and logical human decisions needs to stay away from Kelly. His movies are all about characters being led to their destination, instead of them making the decisions themselves. His plots are overstuffed and messy, but all in the service of weird digressions and dialogue that no other movies can give.
I can't describe how much I want the Donnie Darko theatrical style edit of this movie. If/when Kelly decides to fix this movie, which might be soon, I hope he makes radical decisions.