Southland Tales ★★★½

If you put Magnolia, Donnie Darko, and God Bless America into a blender, mixed that shit up, and flushed it down the toilet… what comes out the other end of the sewer would be Southland Tales.
Presented to all of us in a milkshake cup.
Because why not?
I'm like Daniel Plainview in this bitch. I drink it up!

I'm pretty convinced Donnie Darko wasn't just a fluke for Kelly and that he has some actual story-telling ability. However, his true strength is in ideas much more so than ability as an auteur, kind of like Phillip K. Dick. Where he fails in Southland Tales is in connecting the characters and story arcs together into one cohesive film. It's totally okay for films to be confusing and have hidden, obscure meanings. I like opaque, weird, mind-blowing mind-fucks. Southland Tales wishes it was at that level, but sadly, it falls extremely short. It just seems to be a poorly structured mess of ideas that are probably all great on their own, but don't need to be together in the same film.

I'm not even going to attempt to summarize the plot, because that would be a useless exercise. I did have some favorite scenes, though:

-Justin Timberlake's lip-syncing of the Killers/dance number was phenomenal. The change in his facial expressions and the subsequent tone in one take was astounding.
-Any scene with the Rock shirtless. Damn, that man is FINE.
-The sniper shootings
-The stretching exercise
-The ice cream truck

Oh yeah, and the score is amazing! It was wasted on this film that no one seems to like, though.

Southland Tales gets major points from me for originality and straight-up balls. It loses points because the narrative is unfocused and it's chock full of caricatures instead of characters. I was laughing out loud for quite a bit of this film, and I was also enthralled by a good bit of it. It's really weird how I enjoyed a film I hated so vehemently. I've never had such a mixed reaction to a film in my life during/after just one viewing.

I watched this as the fifth film in the second letterboxd festival

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