Thursday, October 23, 2008

SOUTHLAND TALES (Richard Kelly, 2006, USA) Take a plot inspired by two great Philip K Dick works (FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID and NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR) add a dash of Roeg’s THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, a healthy dose of Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, spice it with pseudo-science fiction comedy and melodrama (trying to channel the Cohen Brothers) then add the final ingredient, THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION and what do you get? You get this fustercluck! Kelly’s sophomore effort is a real disappointment but I just admire the effort; this is a brilliant mistake, as Elvis Costello would say. The film’s first fault is with its structure. The film begins like the introduction to a video game with abundant exposition that transitions into small vignettes, with separate scenes spliced together to make an incoherent mess. The second fault is in character development. Kelly introduces too many characters and the story bounces around from one to the other leaving the viewer apathetic to any dramatic revelation. The acting is also cardboard and static with Dwayne Johnson having the emotional range of a Rock…it’s really cringe inducing. The whole movie plays like a badly written Saturday Night Live skit that just drags on for 2 hours and 15 minutes; it’s just not worth the five minutes of humor and wit. Kelly is adapting a Richard Matheson novel (my favorite writer after PKD) for his next film so I hope he’s over the sophomore jinx. (D)

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