Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Southland Tales

Southland Tales
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Seann William Scott, Mandy Moore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nora Dunn,
Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Miranda Richardson, John Larroquette and Wallace Shawn

Rated: R for language, violence, sexual material and some drug content
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: December 7, 2007 Released by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Richard Kelly, auteur of the way-out cult hit Donnie Darko, has made something extremely taxing on the viewer with the futuristic folly, Southland Tales, now in its "revised" theatrical form.

Incoherent on so many levels, the director has assembled a diverse cast led by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (The Game Plan) and Seann William Scott (Mr. Woodcock).

Narration, for what it's worth is provided by a vigilant Iraq War veteran, played by the busy Justin Timberlake.

In the near future Texas has been struck by terrorists, and the actor Boxer (Johnson) has disappeared; then turns up having lost his memory. His wife (Mandy Moore) is left behind and he's now "shacked up" with an ex-porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar). She's in cahoots with a radical Marxist underground group to overthrow the totalitarian government.

Scott fills the roles of twins of the enforcement revolutionary variety, while Saturday Night Live past and present members like Nora Dunn, Cheri Oteri, and Amy Poehler are rebels involved in this scheme.

The other notable cast members include Miranda Richardson and John Larroquette, as well as a heavily made-up Wallace Shawn as politicians and a mad scientist, respectively, who concern themselves on a new energy source.

The vision of what's happened may initially provide some intrigue, but soon the constant befuddling nature of the enterprise makes it hard to endure. The actors appear to engage the slapstick and melodramatic flourishes in something that is so overstuffed, even in the slimmer running time.

Kelly tries to make something topical, especially when it comes to on-line surveillance, justified through the Patriot Act. Some may find sequences appropriate, comical and emotional, but the direction might even throw someone like a David Lynch off course. Perhaps the ones who possibly are able to convince the most in this bewildering escapade that glibly trusts the space-time continuum are Scott and Timberlake.

For those who take this experimental eye-catching blather in, the bold, fragmented result is much more oppressive than fascinatingly cataclysmic. The visual, narrative, and character elements of this potpourri help make Southland Tales bipolar cinema at its finest.

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Southland Tales       F       F

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