memphisheat’s review published on Letterboxd:
What an absolutely nonsensical, near-meaningless, utter piece of trash that I am absolutely enamored and energized by.
I can't say that Donnie Darko did anything particularly special for me. It's good, don't get me wrong, but besides the engrossing mood of an incoming apocalypse, the rest of it just felt like normal, solid movie. It wasn't some new-Lynchian work, it was just a movie that had some weird ideas. Hearing about how much of a mess this film was, though, I got a feeling that I would somehow vibe, and I did.
Not at first, though. The tone flip-flops nonstop between that one mood from Donnie Darko and some bizzaro near-comedy, one starring Amy Poehler strangely enough (I had a hard time getting over that). You are thrust into non-stop exposition that makes NO goddamn sense, along with a plot that STILL won't make any sense, and by the time you've at least become accustomed to that feeling, you'll start to realize the characters themselves make, you got it, NO GODDAMN SENSE.
Here's where we cross through the space-time continuum, though, and say straight up... does it matter if things make no sense?
Yeah, whatever, movies are a storytelling medium. "Mood pieces", which people often call empty, still have to have some sort of coherent plot in order for people to say they're good. Lynch films, even in their dream logic, have a logic and a meaning. This is not the case here at all. Nothing makes sense, and even if it did, it still wouldn't, if THAT makes sense.
What I'm saying is... you just have to roll with it. You've gotta be okay with what would generally be considered one of the biggest offenses to cinema to be able to enjoy this. If you somehow ARE able to go with it, it isn't an ironic like. Despite sitting somewhere between awful YouTube short film with trash early-2000's aesthetic and cgi and serious movie with nonstop political messaging, there's just a feeling that creeps up and makes you want to watch the entire thing over again in hopes of capturing whatever feeling you had as the film came to a close.
People tend to limit film's artistic worth to having to be meaningful, and if it doesn't fulfill that it needs to be popcorn blockbuster-style fun. Why can't we just accept a feeling? I'm sure Richard Kelly failed his artistic goal, but I often wonder why we can't just accept the emotion we get out of a film to be all we need from a film. If it makes you feel something, ANYTHING, then it's done something. It doesn't just exist, it inhabits and morphs the world around it. Southland Tales is bad on a normal scale, but as something to experience? It's one of a kind.
I almost want to rate this higher, while at the same time I keep thinking back to all the stuff that just seems stupid. I'm leaving it as is for one reason- I came out of it with an obsessive need to talk about it and rewatch it. I haven't yet, but I will. It's something else.