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Moriarty Sifts Through The Ashes Of SOUTHLAND TALES!

Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. I’m glad Richard Kelly made SOUTHLAND TALES. Don’t get me wrong. I hate the ever-lovin’ shit out of the movie, and I think it’s a colossal waste of time. But I’m glad he made it. Because from now on, no one’s going to allow him to make another one of these films again. They’ll hire him to write and direct, certainly, because he has genuine raw no-shit talent. And sooner or later, he’s going to put it all together and make something undeniable. And if ambition equaled success, this would be the year’s most successful film. It’s every bit the failure that the early reports indicated. It’s the sort of film you only see once in a long while, a heavy-expectations over-indulgence that just misses in a fundamental way. There were other films this year that were equally ambitious, films like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE or I’M NOT THERE, films aiming at a sort of film-for-the-sake-of-film drunken abandon, and I think they hit the mark to varying degrees. But SOUTHLAND TALES is what happens when you can’t pull together your reading list into something more than the influences. I gave the film every chance. I read the prequel graphic novels that he says are required for you have the full experience. I would disagree. The prequel comics exist in a sort of stutter mode where nothing really happens. Characters from the film appear, and there’s a lot of set-up to get you to the moment where the film begins, but the information you learn in the comic books doesn’t expand on the information in the movie... it just repeats it. Relationships are established and then established again in the movie, and nothing additional is really added to anyone or anything. The graphic novel treads water. Richard liberally sprinkles in phrases like “The Neo-Marxists” and “Liquid Karma,” peppers in some familiar ideas like time travel, and it all sounds like it should add up to something. But it doesn’t. If I literally explain the climax of the film, it would sound like I’m making fun of it. The film is so busy being crazy and eccentric that it fumbles the fundamentals of storytelling. I don’t really know Richard Kelly the way some of the guys in the geek press seem to. I met him for the first time at Sundance, just before the first screening of DONNIE DARKO. I liked the film. I thought it was really interesting and promising. There were other films that year at Sundance that I found far more exciting, and by the time I left the festival, DARKO was not what I was really excited about. I heard that there were people poking around, thinking about distribution, and I heard they were testing some other cuts of the film. Harry came to town, and we saw a new post-Sundance cut. Then a few months later, we saw another cut. And that was pretty much the theatrical cut. And I thought that all the cuts were pretty much just pushing the same film into slightly different shapes. The film was the film was the film. I can’t imagine someone seeing the original Sundance cut and saying, “I hate this!” and then seeing the theatrical version and saying, “Oh, wait, no I don’t! This is awesome!” I know that Harry knows Richard fairly well, and he loves his work. I think the best thing I’ve ever read of his is the script for THE BOX, the film he’s shooting now. It’s the first time I think he’s just gotten down to the business of telling a story. And I think it’s going to be really good for him as a filmmaker. I just think this one got away from him. We all grow up in love with DR. STRANGELOVE, and we all think it must be thrilling to make one of those great angry generation battle cry films, a sort of pop culture cartoon surreal assault. And we live in an age of information overload, so maybe you think the way to accurately lampoon the world outside your window is to make your movie so dense with characters and subplots and subtext as to be almost a wall. Make it all too much to digest in one viewing. It’s a fair idea, but you have to be a really nimble filmmaker to pull that off. And Richard’s work here is all a little too self-aware this time around, a little too willfully weird. Say what you will about DONNIE DARKO, but that is a sincere little film, heartfelt. Even if it doesn’t add up, it feels like it adds up. I can’t believe he has fourth-dimensional time travel technochatter play a part in his second film after how much it’s a part of DARKO. It seems to me not so much a continuation of an exploration of theme as a sort of narrative laziness. Time travel’s a nice way to explain a lot of random weirdness, but it seems pointless here. A device. Just something to make things weird, as opposed to any sort of thematic relevance. I doubt Richard can even distill the film into one thematic idea, and that seems to me to be a huge failing. If you listen to his various DONNIE DARKO commentaries, he becomes less and less sure what his film is about as he re-edits it, an occupational hazard, this rabbit hole of the era of the director’s cut special collector’s edition anniversary remasters. DR. STRANGELOVE isn’t just weird for the sake of weird. Far from it. It’s savage, and it’s well-observed, and it’s cartoonish in places and documentary-real in others. It is the greatest of all film satires, in my opinion, because it negotiates each of its radical shifts in tone with genuine grace. You never notice the film making these crazy right turns because it all seems to be of a piece. The insanity is what makes you believe it could be real. The more outrageous the moments, the more recognizable they are. There’s an age-old argument about the difference between homage and theft, but I think the more important distinction is between graceful homage and ham-handed homage. I’ve praised Tarantino in the past for making his films (specifically the KILL BILL movies and DEATH PROOF) feel like you’re sitting through a QT Fest at the Alamo, like you’re watching these crazy batshit little films together. I love the way he pulls off that party vibe, and I think it’s not easy to get right. I think Richard tries to do that here with his influences, but he does it in some very strange and even clumsy ways. I love Philip K. Dick’s work, and I can tell that Richard genuinely loves it as well, and I think it might be a colossal fucking idea for someone to hire Richard to make THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE someday. But to actually have a policeman fire a gun and say “Flow my tears,” and then to include characters in your graphic novel explaining it like a footnote (“Oh, you sure do love Philip K. Dick.” “Yeah! He wrote FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID, didn’t he?”) is just first-year-film-student loony. There’s so much of this film that you should have cut. Even with as much as I don’t like this movie, I think there’s a cut of it that would work as a film. I think it’s about thirty five minutes shorter. There is a nararative buried in there. And the cast is certainly game for anything. I’ll say this for Richard... he must be genuinely great with actors, because his entire cast seems like they’re trying some outrageous, extreme things, and he not only indulges them, he encourages them. Amy Poehler stands out in some of her scenes, and it’s impossible to watch the film without being acutely aware of Richard’s fetish for former SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE cast members, to the degree that I have to wonder is this like his BEVERLY HILLS 90210 fetish in DOMINO? Is that his thing now?. The Rock deserves credit for just how weird he’s willing to be, and Sarah Michelle Gellar matches him as a Bizarro Barbie, the laser-focused Krysta Now. She’s a self-made celebrity in full bloom, and if there’s any one target that Kelly hits directly, it’s Krysta. I would suspect Kelly’s met this girl in real life, possibly many times over if he lives in LA. There are a lot of Krysta Nows out here. The Rock’s more of a cartoon, and as much as I’m ready to call him Dwayne Johnson, it’s more fun to call him The Rock as he tics and twitches and geeks it up. You can tell that he’s ready to destroy his onscreen image at a moment’s notice. He’s game. Kelly certainly can’t be faulted for taking a chance on him. I think he gives everything he possibly can. I think Justin Timberlake’s far less successful. His musical number is my least favorite moment in the film. In fact, taken on its own, the musical number sums up exactly why I don’t think the film works. It is a speed bump, a nothing in terms of impact on the film. It’s well shot. It’s well-staged. But it’s just a dead end as a choice. The scene lays there between a couple of other sequences, doesn’t inform either in any way. Ultimately, I think it’s a cop-out when people dismiss this film by saying, “Oh, it’s too weird to describe.” The story does make a literal sense. Don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise. It’s not like Richard Kelly writes scenes where people have hair made of pudding or horses suddenly drive fire trucks. It’s not nonsense. It’s just that he gives every single character these wacky names and dresses them like gay Munchkins or MAD MAX extras, these really extreme cartoonish polar niche groups. I think the reason some critics gave up trying to talk about the plot is because of how crazy it sounds. So at the end of the film, Ronald and Roland come face to face and they cause a rift in the time-space fabric, and that makes the ice cream truck fly up in the air, where Martin finds himself in the perfect position to use that surface-to-air missle... See what I mean? That is literally what happens at the end of the film. Martin stands up and fires the missle and it blows up the giant superblimp. I don’t think this is a film like David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE where it leaves literal narrative behind in order to create a vocabulary of dream. I think this is a film with a narrative so jampacked with wacky that it doesn’t work. More than anything, as I watched it, I wondered how it would look if he could start all over now, knowing what he knows. I’ll bet you he’d shoot it differently, design it differently, and even fundamentally write it differently. Like I said... I’m excited about THE BOX. I actually think I saw a film that successfully accomplished what SOUTHLAND TALES set out to do. I think someone made this satire and got it released, and it tanked. Like SOUTHLAND TALES, the film was long-delayed and tinkered with quite a bit before it hit theaters. It’s not an old film, certainly, but it’s not quite brand new. If you can guess which film I’m thinking of, I’ll give you... something. Some prize that I will announce here in the next week. First person to e-mail me the right answer wins. In the meantime, I’m feeling a lot of Dick. Errrr... wait. That sounds different than I thought it would. It’s just that I have noticed that this fall, there’s a name I’ve been hearing more than normal. Thanks to the Blu-Ray/HD release of BLADE RUNNER, in part, and the theatrical run, in part, and Philip K. Dick. Fine by me. I’m a longtime fan of his work, and he was one of the guys who influenced me most when I was just starting to write fiction back in the mid-80s. I think his relationship with Hollywood’s been a strange one. They love to make movies based on his stories. But... based loosely. Very loosely in some cases. I was greatly encouraged by Linklater’s A SCANNER DARKLY, as faithful a version of one of his books as I’ve seen. Right now, another one of his books is in front of the camera somewehere. Another very faithful adaptation... and I’m going to be taking a look at it as one of my projects for the week, along with more reviews for you as I keep trying to catch up with the holiday deluge.

Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:59 a.m. CST


    by R L S


  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6 a.m. CST


    by R L S

    What a way to start a Monday! My first FIRST!

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:13 a.m. CST


    by meatygoodness

    really that psyched about the film, but surely a slight spoiler warning about giving away the ending would be in order?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:15 a.m. CST

    How about a spoiler warning, you utter c**t

    by GilesT

    Just 'cause you hated "the ever-lovin’ shit out of the movie", doesn't give you carte blanche to REVEAL THE FUCKING ENDING. Some of us still intend to see and make our own minds up about the movie.<br> <br>Oh yeah, and missile has two i's in it, you hack.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:19 a.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

    "It’s just that he gives every single character these wacky names and dresses them like gay Munchkins or MAD MAX extras" One of the better things I've read here in the past 10 years.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:20 a.m. CST

    Are you referring to Repo Man? Because that seemed...

    by rbatty024

    like the most direct ancestor to this film to me. Anyway, great review and I'm glad you gave the actors their props because some of them do a fine job despite the fact the movie falls apart.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:25 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    I put a spoiler warning on the article when I posted it. The red box. The same spoiler warning we always use when an article has spoilers. So I'm only a partial cunt, technically.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:28 a.m. CST


    by Gozu

    Is that it?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:28 a.m. CST

    Good review but....

    by Madines Sideshed

    I'm still gonna see this. My hopes aren't exactly astronomical but it just seems so different than the cookie cutter bullshit that's kicking about just now that it deserves a couple of hours of my time.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:33 a.m. CST

    Remember when

    by Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World

    For a short time, Moriarity used to begin his articles with some sort of ebonics lingo like "Y'all know me, y'all know how I do." or some shit like that? Or was that Quint? Anyway, what the hell was that all about?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:35 a.m. CST


    by micturatingbenjamin

    That's the funniest post I've ever read. Oh, you're not being ironic.<p> I think that very sentence describing the ending of the flick shows that the film is out of control, and not in a good way. If I ruined the end of say, Donnie Darko, or the Sixth Sense, you'd have the right..nay, the DUTY, to call me a cunt. And without the little infantile stars, too!<p>Here's why the sentence isn't seems like the fever dream of one of the characters in 'Spun' mixed with a paragraph from 'My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist' by Mark Leyner. The term is 'stream of consciousness', but I won't elaborate on it...from what I've seen of Southland Tales, it's more like 'stream of diarrhea'.<p>Send the coal miners, and let's get Kelley out of his own ass for ten minutes, drag him out into the sun away from the editing suite, and rub his nose in this shit.<p>It's gonna tank, and I'll own it on DVD. Twice if the new Joel Hodgson 'MST' series watches it. Best thing for a piece o' filmic bowel cancer like this one.<p>I get it, he's trying to make a semi-lucid Leyner novel/Dick novel/balls-out David Lynch Sci-Fi flick...And failed spectacularly. Hurry up and come to DVD, already.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:38 a.m. CST

    this years gotta eat a cooked book w kurt an benico

    by ironic_name

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Southland Tales

    by micturatingbenjamin

    Is Kelly's 'Rocket Car Over Snake River Canyon'. A beautiful disaster, a spectacle that lots of people will remember for its horrifying misses, but won't actually have seen it. It's going to be a cultural meme for 'Wow, THAT'S what indulgence of the 'hot new thing' looks like'. I sincerely hope that Richard Kelly made this laughing the whole time at his patrons, spending their money on gold-plated dildos for the half-chinese rent boys with dwarfism who cause a rift in the space-time continuum as they blow their loads into a crystal goblet engraved with the script for 'The Wild Bunch'.<p>Fuck, let ME make the next Southland Tales!

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Hey Moriarty

    by EdmundoDupont

    Were you referring to that film 'Until the End of the World' by Wim Wenders. From what I have so far read about Southland Tales, they seem to share thematical similarities as well as being total and utter messes.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:43 a.m. CST

    Until the End of the World...

    by micturatingbenjamin

    No, you could encapsulate all of that movie with a few sentences that /wouldn't/ sound like something Ted Geisel muttered on his death bed. It's a good flick, I remember seeing it in the middle of the night on Cinemax between 'Near Dark' and Emmanuelle 9: The Erotic Dream of Electric Sheep Dong.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:46 a.m. CST


    by micturatingbenjamin

    Hey man, I get you, you don't want to see the 'same old Hollywood bullshit'. I get a hankering for some avant garde cinema sometimes too, but I'd advise renting Lucas' THX or Strangelove.<p>This sounds like over-budgeted indulgence.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:47 a.m. CST

    last night

    by ironic_name

    was the best end of world movie.<P>sandrah oh is in it, sos the red head cylon guy.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:52 a.m. CST

    Oh, I've got it, it's not Repo Man, it's Dune, right?

    by rbatty024

    The film wants to be a Lynch film, among other things, but doesn't quite make it

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:56 a.m. CST

    come on

    by harold_maude

    it wasn't that bad, i'd rather see this then fred clause or whatever that movie is. If you intend on seeing this... the first twenty minutes are unwatchable but then it gets better, i thought much better and i might go see it again, it was enjoyable even if it was a mess, so what a much

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Thank you Mori for not writing GEORGE MILLER or defending McG

    by reflecto

    Reviewers need to start cutting the fucking bullshit and call shit, or in this case overindulgent crap, what it is. Kelly's head got way too big way too fast and he got high on his own supply making and remaking and re-remaking Donnie Darko on the Internet for a cult audience, to the point that I now resent the original, simple, good film. In this day and age of "Lost" and "Southland Tales," so many products are heady with their own adolescent, overwrought mythos or subculture that they lose sight of actually telling a story, believing that the mythology and mytharcs are an excuse for being a jackass.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:07 a.m. CST

    My guess.

    by BGDAWES

    Mori, outstanding review...again. You, Capone, and Vern-O make this site great. Not that I don't enjoy Harold's writings but I find them amusing for other reasons. <br> <br> My guess for the movie you hint to is 'Howard The Duck'. <br> <br> Am I close? <br> <br> By the way I'm kidding, have no idea, but it's early yet and I haven't had much coffee. Give me a few minutes.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:08 a.m. CST

    Speaking of 'Until the End of the World'

    by tonagan

    Did they ever release the 4-hour (or so) cut of that on DVD? I liked that movie (and the soundtrack).

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:09 a.m. CST

    Is there a chance the spoiler box was post hoc?

    by GilesT

    Don't recall seeing it being there when the article had just been posted, and I wasn't the only one to complain at the lack of warning at the time, either. <br> <br>If I'm genuinely mistaken, then I've just insulted you again and for both counts I apologise. <br> <br> Benjamin, on the other hand, I'm only too happy to remove the asterisks for... 'cause you truly are a cunt.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:12 a.m. CST


    by Madines Sideshed

    I watched again THX recently and enjoyed it, although those CGI creatures at the end were pretty much a nonsense. I've been reading about this film for so long and I'm such an admirer of Donnie Darko that I HAVE to see it, even if it does suck balls. I'm sure that if I come out thinking it was a waste of time, there will be at least some part of it, even a scene, that I like. And for me that will be worth it cause the summer of sequels has put me off going to the cinema. On the other hand it may just be because we all slow down to look at car wrecks.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:18 a.m. CST


    by EdmundoDupont

    There's a 280 minute directors cut that's available in Italy and Germany... but, don't hold your breath for the original cut (it's over 8 hours long).

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:18 a.m. CST


    by Lloytron

    Personally I read AICN headlines through an RSS reader. The red spoiler box may appear on the site but I never see them as I don't go through the homepage, and I'm sure many others don't too. How about clearly marking the actual article with spoiler warnings as well as a box on the homepage?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Spoiler warnings

    by Eyegore

    Maybe you should have levels of spoiler warnings. There should be a difference between revealing a bit of the plot and ruining the ending of a movie that hasn't even come out yet, which is a total dick move despite the teeny spoiler box on the front page. Maybe take a hint from Hercules and use invisotext when you just need to ruin a movie for some people. At least they have a more clear choice, and you don't have to make lame excuses about the inadequate spoiler box.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:30 a.m. CST

    Southland Tales was better when it was called....

    by cookiepuss

    Idiocracy that's my guess anyway

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:37 a.m. CST

    Inland Empire.

    by C Legion


  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:41 a.m. CST


    by axemurder

    do not ever , ever apologise for calling someone a cunt, saying sorry for that is the most cuntish thing you can do

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:42 a.m. CST


    by Messiahman

    Closest film I can think of, anyway.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:49 a.m. CST


    by William Landis (remove spaces if any) Also, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, two Stifler's, The Rock and Michael Jackson Mark II in one movie is a new type of unbearable so that AND this review from the ever-reliable Moriarty compounds my lack of box office contribution.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Duh... BRAZIL, of course.

    by ArchCarrier

    Am I wrong?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:26 a.m. CST

    cookiepuss is right

    by RipVanMarlowe

    I immediately thought of "idiocracy"

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:29 a.m. CST

    BTW- How 'bout that big Redacted BO

    by SkinJob69

    Looks like Capone and Massawyrm were the only ones who saw this crap. <P> NY Post November 25, 2007 -- IT'S hard for Hollywood pacifists like Brian De Palma to capture the hearts and minds of America if Americans won't see their movies. While the public is staying away in droves from “Rendition," “Lions for Lambs" and “In the Valley of Elah," audiences are really avoiding “Redacted," De Palma's picture about US soldiers who rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, then kill her and her family. The message movie was produced by NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who insisted on deleting grisly images of Iraqi war casualties from the montage at the film's end. Cuban offered to sell the film back to De Palma at cost, but the director was too smart to go for that deal. “Redacted" - which “could be the worst movie I've ever seen," said critic Michael Medved -took in just $25,628 in its opening weekend in 15 theaters, which means roughly 3,000 people saw it in the entire country. “This, despite an A-list director, a huge wave of publicity, high praise in the Times, The New Yorker, left-leaning sites like Salon, etc. A Joe Strummer documentary [of punk-rock band The Clash] playing in fewer theaters made more in its third week," e-mailed one cineaste. “Not even people who presumably agree with the movie's antiwar thesis made the effort to see it."

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Thanks EdmundoDupont

    by tonagan

    I'm both intrigued and frightened at the prospect of an 8+ hour version, though.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:41 a.m. CST

    So basically Moriarty, in other words...

    by James Westfall

    ... Southland Tales is the inbred, retarded younger brother of Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:08 a.m. CST

    Spoiler Box....

    by judge dredds fresh undies

    I only just noticed they say spoiler on the right, I always wondered what those boxes were for. Bad design....

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:25 a.m. CST

    He'll bounce back from this.

    by Lashlarue

    It's a fairly common mistake of young writers to try and cram too much into one story. If cinema has any rules, then this is one of them: Keep it Simple. Not simple minded, but simple natured. Take any great film, and a simple idea is behind it.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:28 a.m. CST

    you can't spoil it

    by gredenko

    You really can't spoil Southland Tales by revealing a plot point anyway. If the plot and how it plays out is what you're interested in, Southland Tales is going to be a high disappointment anyway. I think that if Mori actually laid out the plot scene for scene, it would actually make the movie MORE appealing because you'd read that and say "there's no way that's all happening in the same movie" but it does.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:34 a.m. CST

    Hope they don't

    by Series7

    Daywatch this movie, and only show is for like one weekend and 4 theaters. Daywatch was a crazy ass movie which would have been awesome to see on the big screen. This movie seems like its crazy for the sake of crazy and I would be cool to see on the big screen. Hopefully it will get decent release. Still don't know how Daddy Day Camp played thoughout America and I had to wait for DVD for Daywatch. Also this movie sounds like Caligula in how is just a crazy mess, just Caligula was trying to be an Epic movie/porno, but at times it looks like a Sci-Fi movie.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:43 a.m. CST

    where Martin finds himself in the perfect position to use that s

    by BMacSmith

    I'M SOLD! sounds cool. the trailer looks good.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:56 a.m. CST

    It's the descendant of "The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T"

    by C.K. Lamoo

    The greatest absurdest satire on art ever filmed.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:03 a.m. CST

    I can't believe people are complaining about 'spoilers'.

    by raw_bean

    Absolutely ridiculous. How could it possibly have spoiled it when we have (unless you guys comprehended something in that nonsense that I didn't) absolutely no idea what any of it was about?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Graphic novels

    by Maniac Cop

    Well, there is one plot point involving a bleeding tattoo that will make no sense whatsoever if you haven't read the comics. Otherwise, it is fairly redundant.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Are you refering to Fight Club


    Coz this sounds like this Kelly Dude's trying to make a hip generation X kind of movie like that only he has to throw in some time travel wormhole bullshit into all his movies to make them seem more complex and worthy than they are!?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Southland Tales

    by The Alienist

    Maybe it is a disaster, a "beautiful" disaster, a bumfucked failure...I don't know and I don't care. I LAUGHED, unstopped, through the first half of this film, delighted by it, with a dizzy/happy smile on my face when I wasn't giggling. I eventually grew weary of laughing (it reminded me of my original reaction to "Wild at Heart") and then sat in contented wonderment through the rest (there's an interpretive dance number that is actually a plot point!!!!!!). Plus, politically, I liked it. Its your worst (worst!) Republican nightmare made real. It's as if Ann Coulter's perverse philosophy had suddenly been made real. I liked that. But mostly, it was the funny. The very very funny funny...I had a hell of a time at this oh-so-odd film. Plus: Three generations of SNL female comediennes??? I was so there in every sense.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11 a.m. CST

    Until The End Of The World

    by Simon Moon

    That's my guess - and a personal favorite.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:14 a.m. CST

    Die Hard 4 Unrated

    by Alex Trevelyan

    Thats my guess. Lenny is a genius.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Darko director makes a bad movie?

    by Some Dude

    Duh. Two for two.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Moriarty is a moron

    by IKnowStuff

    You clearly missed the entire point of this film and have no religious background to speak of (or anyone to fill you in.) It's clear this film completely slipped your grasp, but that's okay -- it's not for everyone. As an example: to say that Timberlake's dance sequence doesn't add anything to the film indicates you just didn't get it. See, as corny as this may sound, Timberlake might just possibly represent God, and after he says, "take this and you'll see God and his disciples," and then he takes it and we get the dance moment, means that... yeah. Timberlake could possibly represent God. There's a lot going on in this film that you don't seem to be aware of. Your so called review touches on none of the religious context of the film. Therefore, you said nothing important. So keep your fucking mouth shut and lick my balls. :)

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:02 p.m. CST


    by SAVOIR_faire

    Dunno about Justin being a God-rep...gotta think about that one. - - Also It's practically impossible to really 'spoil' this flick (unlike Darko) - - And my guess is 'Brazil'...Although Idiocracy didn't do well, mostly due to Fox's sabotage.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:03 p.m. CST

    IKnowStuff, you succeeded in...

    by Lenny Nero

    ...making the movie sound even worse. JT might be God? Perhaps maybe there could be ANOTHER way for him to represent God, which I presume we could figure out without the sequence?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Partial cunt

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Best laugh i've had today Moriarty, cheers for that.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Justin Timberlake as god

    by palinode

    RIP my fabled nerd boner for Southland Tales.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:25 p.m. CST

    I called it months ago

    by skimn

    when I said this will be this years The Fountain. Thanks for the straight-up review Morrie. None of this "its a failure, but a fascinating failure" bullshit.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:27 p.m. CST

    I doubt it's Idiocracy

    by Freakemovie

    ...on the basis that I finally saw it on HBO and thought it was a complete waste of time. I was hoping for unheralded brilliance on the Office Space level and I got a fairly boring, mostly unfunny non-movie. Strange Days is a good guess, fits the time frame and theme, but was it a satire? Hmm maybe I'm reading into this too much.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Timberlake IS God

    by Darth Busey

    He banged Mary (from 7th Heaven), didn't he?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Terrible, terrible film.

    by Mostholy

    There's really very little to say that's good about it. Also, Iknowstuff, the more stuff you know about Revelations, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, PKD, etc., the more shallow and facile this film becomes. ( It's the exact opposite of the best film of the year, I'm Not There, which rewards Dylan trivia like there's no tomorrow.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:31 p.m. CST


    by Mostholy

    Moriarty is NOT talking about Brazil, because comparing this film in any way to Brazil dishonors the movie gods and will invoke their wrath.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 12:37 p.m. CST

    IKnowStuff doesn't.

    by s00p3rm4n

    That was pretty much the shittiest post on this shitty movie that I've seen so far. Trying to defend Justin fucking Timberlake as representing God as he pours beer on himself.<br><br> Well done, retard. Well done.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 1:10 p.m. CST


    by TheKingofallOpinions

    this movie may suck and it may not but thanks for the spoiler anyway You suck cock by choice

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Land of the Blind?

    by grungies

    Just a guess.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 1:29 p.m. CST


    by billyhitchcock

    ...was my guess too. thought it was pretty good!

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Sex Lives of the Potato Men?

    by William Landis

    Idiocracy seems too obvious.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Donnie Darko "Director's Cut" is for morons...

    by Zardoz

    I like the theatrical version of DD much better than the so-called "director's cut" version of the film. For one thing, the soundtrack is better in the original and all the stuff that they added to the DC was just for idiots that couldn't follow the plot of the original version. I was curious about Southland Tales but I guess I'll wait until it's out on DVD. It's only showing in one theater at one time/day here; too bad...

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:01 p.m. CST


    by ironic_name

    what are we talking about?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:08 p.m. CST

    partial cunt

    by ironic_name

    their new album rocks.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:10 p.m. CST

    shouldn't have been a movie

    by Matthew Martinez

    Honestly, I felt this might have worked as a single-season TV series for HBO. That would be the only way Kelly to develop the plots adequately. True, he would have lost Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar, but he probably could have retained the rest of the cast. (After all, what else is Jon Lovitz doing these days?) Apart from that, he would most likely have been working with other writers who could have held him back or at least come up with good ways for the excesses to make sense. Aside from that, I really thought it was lame how only two characters (technically one) were really involved in the climax of the film while all the rest just happened to be nearby. (I.e., by my estimation, Santaro really had no bearing on anything that happened at the end despite being built up as some kind of messianic figure.)

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:14 p.m. CST

    "Didn't get it"

    by Tourist

    Sometimes, as is often the case with Lynch films, there is nothing there to get. Some people just don't like them. Moriarty has always had a taste for the blandness and comfortable predictability of shoot for the middle cinema. This is just not on his wave length. It's not something he would understand, or, as is probally the case, wants to waste time "understanding". I don't see the point attacking him for his disinterest in this film, since the whole point of reading reviews, at least for me, is to see what other people, who view the world in a different manner, think of a film and contrast it with my own opinion. Thats why I enjoy reading Christian Spotlight On Entertainments reviews. Even though I'm a sleazy, morally bankrupt athiest.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:15 p.m. CST

    what RU talking about?

    by Zardoz

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:34 p.m. CST

    i said this before, and i will say it again-

    by dr.bulber

    i said this before, and i will say it again-

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:45 p.m. CST


    by ironic_name

    you had me at "the gun is good"

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 2:48 p.m. CST

    jon lovitz is crying into his teddy bear..

    by ironic_name

    and masturbating.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 3:43 p.m. CST

    Nonsense, Tourist...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... the "didn't get it" battle cry is horseshit. It's perfectly possible to "get" something and not like it anyway. If you look at the films I spotlight at the end of each year as my very favorites, "shoot for the middle cinema" is about as far from a description of those lists as possible. You have me confused with someone else.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 3:44 p.m. CST

    This film's been labelled as SHIT for eighteen months

    by palimpsest

    Since Cannes 06 at least. A bit harsh on Mori to lay on him for his reiteration of what is, let's face it, is old, old news. Kelly, on current evidence, is a doofus who struck lucky with his first film. He's since messed up with the DARKO re-edit/s, the DOMINO screenplay, and now this. The ball's in Kelly's court. Let's hope this new project works out.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 3:56 p.m. CST

    It has nothing to do with not getting it

    by Lovecraftfan

    It has everything to do that its boring thanks to underdeveloped scattershot ideas and paper thin character nobody cares about.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:03 p.m. CST

    The Geek Press

    by Laszlo Vilsay

    Drew: I can’t say I stand a ghost of a chance to win your trivia challenge, but I appreciate you writing about “Southland Tales” with a literate, witty and above all, rational pen. Good work. I can respect anyone who feels this movie is a misunderstood masterpiece – wherever they are - but the comments I’ve seen from kids hopped up on Mountain Dew screaming “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT!” need to go away. Far away.<p>I saw this a couple of weeks ago and feel it’s every bit the disaster that “1941” or “Dune” were. If Spielberg and Lynch can survive a spectacular bomb early in their careers, I’m sure Richard Kelly can. I agree that “Donnie Darko” was a really good film and Kelly is a talent. But the producers of “The Box” really owe it to the rest of us to keep the director from wandering off the path and getting lost in the moors again.<p>p.s. How can I tell if a critic is a member of the Geek Press? Is he unemployed by the mainstream media? Does he begin each article with a review of what he had for breakfast? Does he hang out with Eli Roth a lot? What are the tells and giveaways for the geek press corps?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Loved reading your review, Mori.

    by a goonie

    I still haven't seen Southland Tales, but as soon as it hit theaters somewhere near me, I'll be there. I suspect it won't be any good (the word pretentious has been popping up and boy do I hate pretentious cinema), but it's one of those things I have to see to believe and see how I react on my own terms. So anyways, I have no idea if I'll agree with your opinion or not, Mori, but I wanted to congratulate you on an incredibly entertaining and articulate review. I like your writing, usually, but this was pretty top-notch stuff. You argued your points with intelligence and maturity. I really enjoyed this review and can't wait to read it again once I see the movie.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:29 p.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    You'll notice I didn't use that word once in the review. It's not a critical word I approve of. I don't think it means anything. It's an arbitrary term used to dismiss something. I think people mean "ambitious" when they say "pretentious" sometimes, and I don't agree that they're interchangeable.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:29 p.m. CST


    by nate-ford

    A brilliant, misunderstood film. Where are you Casper Van Dien?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:39 p.m. CST

    my take on Southland Tales

    by drave117

    Southland Tales is, without the slightest doubt, the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life. Worse than Catwoman, worse than Super Mario Brothers, worse than Epic Movie, and yes, even worse than that early-nineties Fantastic Four movie that was too horrible to even release in theaters. It is such a colossal failure on every level that I am still reeling from the experience. It literally made me physically exhausted to watch this film. I feel vaguely as if someone spun me underwater in a gyroscope for two and a half hours, while someone else used a potato gun to fire human feces at all of my senses. It is so thunderously bad that, although I have never struck another human being in anger, I swear on the graves of all four of my grandparents that, if I ever meet Richard Kelly, I will attempt to slap him in the face for making this petulant, masturbatory, wrong-headed abortion of a film; a film about which the most charitable thing that can be said is that at least it is twenty minutes shorter than it was when it was booed off the screen at Cannes.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:43 p.m. CST

    Original Visions

    by Larry of Arabia

    Whatever happened to original visions in Sci-Fi films? It seems to me that everyone now is "informed" or "in homage to" Strangelove (sci-fi by the Bradbury Rule), Blade Runner, Star Wars, Alien, or 2001. I yearn for original visions and hoped that this would be one. It turned out to be a mess, but I'm glad he tried. I'll take ambitious disasters over Daddy Daycare any day. It begs the question, though, of who is making the next great original sci-fi vision? Even Speilburg's sci-fi comes from good ol' Phillip K. now, and he was one of the great hopes of the genre. Curon's Children of Men is the closest thing we have, but will it inform the future of sci-fi? Is it Del Torro? Aranofsky? Or will an unknown come out of nowhere to inspire us?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 4:58 p.m. CST

    Not every movie is Pretentious

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    Knowthyself, the definition of pretentious is literally: characterized by assumption of dignity or importance, or making an exaggerated outward show. Not all movie makers aim to do this, a silly ass comedy has no amount of self importance or dignity, it aims to please a different sense, the funny bone. But I don't believe the filmmaker is aiming to make an "important" movie, just an entertaining one. Here is how I would draw the line regarding pretentious or ambitious, if a filmmaker attempts to make a movie that is "important" they are ambitious. If it fails utterly, yet they still believe this movie is "important" purely for the sheer audacity of what it attempts, that is pretentious. One of the biggest critiques with many a critic that write here, not necessarily Mori, is when they talk about "what the filmmaker was aiming for" Who cares what they were aiming for, they missed, and so the movie missed. I pray to the good lord every night that Lucas had hit is target in what he was "aiming" for with his prequels, but whatever it was, he missed, the movies missed, and now the whole damn franchise missed. Maybe they didn't miss as far as other films, and maybe the target was a bad idea to begin with, but still he missed, and any sense of grander importance that Lucas wants to heap upon Attack of the Clones is purely pretentious.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:06 p.m. CST

    SLD is DD part 2

    by BrightEyes

    When Donnie Darko went back in time to have the jet engine fall on him, he opened up a space rift and changed the way the world would unfold, Bush lost, Dukakis won presidencey and the fututre we see in Southland is the aftermath of Donnies Death. Basically Donnie is the cause of this sci fi type future because he opened up a wormhole. Donnie was Christ (last temtation of the christ) and either Boxer santeros or Roland( still trying to figure that one out) was the second comming of Christ. returning of christ to this world. Also some one else stated that all the neo marxist had frank posters around them and I believe Frank has become a myth of a messenger, maybe others besides Donnie saw Frank like in the bible , there were people who would hear from God( like the burning Bush) and translate his message, I believe others saw Frank and they are working directly under him , trying to follow his orders just like Donnie but now everything is on a biger scale.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:07 p.m. CST

    see it all makes sense now

    by BrightEyes

    don't get so worked up

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Is the satire movie Mori's talking about....

    by Neo Zeed


  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:12 p.m. CST

    pretty good definition mel

    by T 1000 xp professional

    That's a pretty good definition for a word that is kind of difficult to drop without becoming it....BTW your alias is great haha

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Bright Eyes ...

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    You make it sound way cooler than it really was. Did anyone else read King's Dark Tower series, I remember thinking after Wizard and Glass that this series was going to be amazing, heart stopping, unbelievable, that it was the most amazing conglomeration of post apocalyptic metaphorical prophecy in pop-culture sci-fi punk literature that I had ever seen. Then Wolves came out, things seemed to slow, it was okay though, then Song came, and I actually liked it, and it seemed really important, and then the final DT came out and ultimately what seemed important wasn't, and everything just sort of slid to the background of Roland and his damn quest. Looking back now, I still like the series, and I would still recommend it to a lot of people, but the theories, the endless possibilities that all us fans dreamed up prior to those last three books swooping in, were so amazing and the books just couldn't deliver on that type of hype. We had made this series too big, too impossibly important, and it was never meant to be.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Breakfast of Champions

    by Billy Goat

    Is that what Moriarty has in mind?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:23 p.m. CST

    My point is this

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    I realized that I didn't conclude the above. Kelly has stated that he loves King, I bet he was right there salivating for those final three DT books. His Southland Tales, and even DD, have this sense of the supernatural weaving through everything, of pseudo-Christian prophecy coming true, of "worlds COLLIDING Jerry, WORLDS COLLIDING!" Yet ultimately the setup of these super important events always build up to a conclusion that is less than. How can you sustain such impossibly important questions, with answers that will never be as good as the questions we ask. Kelly brings up really good questions with the possibility of some incredible thesis, but in the end even <he> doesn't know what he means, cause how could he, he isn't God. Its like being back in college and discovering brilliant philosophical concepts for the first time, and asking these impossible quesitons, and seeking those answers, only to come to the conclusion that you can't answer the questions, no one can. Either because it is beyond us, or because the answers already exist but we frankly just don't like what they say.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:25 p.m. CST

    I Heart Huckabees

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    Is that what you were talkin' bout Mori?

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:56 p.m. CST

    FYI, Mulholland Drive

    by smackfu

    consists of literally 50% literal narrative and 50% fantasy re-imagining of said literal narrative. There is a very specific chain of events that occurs, the 2nd half are the literal, abysmal details of Diane Selwyn's experience after moving to Hollywood, and the first half is her re-imaging of that experience in which everything works out for her that didn't in real life. The only thing that's really up in the air is whether the dream occured before she woke up and shot herself, or was her last moments of brain activity after shooting herself, or was the fantasy she was having while masturbating on the couch.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Neo Zeed...

    by Mostholy

    I MEAN IT. PLEASE DON'T DO THAT. Uh oh, they're starting to rumble...Now we're going to end up with Brett Ratner's HOBBIT.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 5:59 p.m. CST

    You disapprove...

    by JonQuixote

    ...of other reviewers using 'pretentious' and claim it doesn't really mean anything. That's a lofty stance taken against both other reviewers and dictionaries. In fact, one might even go so far to call it... aw, never mind. *** Anyway, I'm glad we're seeing a stand against Donnie Darko. It looked really cool, and had some great moments, but... well, I'll say, with help from Merriam-Webster, it felt as though Kelly was trying to express affected and unwarranted worth and stature. I guess I'll have to invent an adjective that means that - how about indulgidiculous? But hey, maybe I just didn't get it.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:22 p.m. CST

    Indulgidiculous...I LIKE IT!

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    Not bad Jon, but by creating talkback vernacular just because a certain reviewer has now and forever co-opted another, more appropriate word, seems a little indulgidiculous itself, doesn't it? Maybe Moriarty should just give back "pretentious", admit that he doesn't like the way reviewers misuse it, and agree that at times it is an appropriate response to a bloated, self important, overdone POS flick.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:41 p.m. CST

    Three Words

    by Duke of Hurl

    Natural Born Killers

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 6:41 p.m. CST

    casino royale...

    by phallix trebek

    that movie pulled the satire pull me off

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:14 p.m. CST

    Shakespeare's review of Southland Tales

    by drave117

    It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 7:37 p.m. CST

    That was a long fucking review....

    by The Dum Guy

    But, I'll still see this anyway.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:02 p.m. CST

    I agree, pretentious is overused and lazy writing.

    by rbatty024

    It's the same with emo as a pejorative. At one time it was apt, but it's lost all meaning as people applied it to everything. It's not that at one point these words had a meaning, it's that it has become devalued through inappropriately lazy usage. Everything these days can be labeled as pretentious or emo and all it means is, "they don't fit my sensibilities." If you use the words and don't explain what you mean by it, then it ends up saying more about the reviewer than the thing being reviewed.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:32 p.m. CST

    The Actual Truth

    by emvan

    Moriarty, you say you read the graphic novels, but your reaction to them is so far off base that I wonder whether one of two things happened: either you approached them with a sense of duty or even resentment, or (and I strongly suspect this) you read them after you saw the movie, which is amazingly ass-backwards and pretty much makes it impossible to judge either one fairly (e.g., when a story’s central mystery is revealed, the power of the payoff is a direct function of the time spent setting it up; you can’t read the setup after the payoff and expect to have the same visceral reaction to the story as story). There's a hell of a lot of story in the novels, and a lot of things in the movie that only make sense in light of them. SPOILERS START HERE. There's important stuff like the fact that Fluid Karma does not work on tidal drag (that's just a cover story), that Krysta gained her psychic powers by flying above the rift in the space-time continuum, that she wrote the screenplay herself and it is specifically a decoding of the Book of Revelations, that the aforementioned rift is believed to be an "intelligent communication" from the source of Fluid Karma (God, actually), that Martin Kefauver has been prophesied to be “the executioner” ... to relatively minor but still important things, like the Killer's song that Pilot lip-synchs to being the song that was playing on the IPod Roland loaned him when Roland accidentally nailed him with the grenade.<br><br>ST is actually quite satisfying as metaphysical science fiction; there have been a ton of stories asking what would happen if you went back in time and met yourself, and I actually think that the answer here -- that the doubling would give you Messianic / Godlike powers (especially if both of you were high on a divine drug that gave you powers to look forwards and backwards in time -- oh, yeah, that's another crucial thing from the novels that's barely mentioned in the movie) is novel and cool. SPOILERS ARE OVER, OPINIONS START. Basically, the graphic novel plus the movie is every bit as coherent as its detractors claim it’s incoherent.<br><br> Now, here's where I'll agree with you wholeheartedly. Richard Kelly had to be insane to write a story this dense and divide it into a graphic novel that you had to read twice (I read 'em three times, and took notes) and a movie sequel (which I saw twice). I'm flabbergasted anyone gave him money to do this. As a 6-part Showtime mini-series whose episodes people could re-watch on Demand or DVR, this would have been astounding. As a graphic novel + movie, it asks way too much of the audience in terms of making sense. No wonder why you’re sure you “got it” when you quite evidently didn’t.<br><br>The other dirty secret about ST is that audience reaction is much better than reported. The two audiences I saw it with laughed their asses off, and at all the right places. On IMDB, it has a higher percentage of "10" votes than MICHAEL CLAYTON or EASTERN PROMISES have 9 and 10 combined (and of course a very high level of 0's that bring down the overall rating into the merely solid). And (very tellingly) there is an incredible skew by age in the ratings; under 18's almost all love it, more geriatrics than most hate it. That's your first tip-off that the movie will play much better ten years from now.<br><br>ST is my second favorite movie of the year so far, getting massive points for uniqueness of vision, originality, and sheer wild entertainment value (the Treer Saltair commercial is worth the price of admission) that more than make up for the occasional moment that doesn’t quite work. Your praise for the comic value of the performances makes me wonder whether you would have had the same reaction if you thought the story was hanging together as satisfyingly as I did (I think one of the reasons why kids love this is that they’re just not putting on the critic hat that demands “good storytelling”; I would agree that *absent the graphic novels*, and with the back story thereof referenced inconsistently, the storytelling is a mess). I agree that the handling of satirical tone isn't at the level of surehandedness of DR. STRANGELOVE but it is plenty good enough to connect with an awful lot of people.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 8:45 p.m. CST

    Oh Yeah, and Re DD

    by emvan

    Anyone who complains that the music in the Director's Cut is a downgrade is instantly revealing themselves to be someone who's going to be hugely biased in favor of the first version of anything they encounter. Because, in fact, the music of the DC is a *restoration* of the original soundtrack that the film was cut to but had to be redone when they couldn't secure music rights.<br><br>The original vs. DC argument re DD is one of the most pointless artistic debates in the world. The original cut is somewhat open-ended, mysterious, and Lynchian, the DC is (as per Kelly's original intention) a rigorous science fiction movie that's no more subject to interpretation as to what really happened than, say, THE MATRIX. All the DC detractors are doing when they dis it is stating their preference for the former over the latter. But the DC is tremendously great as rigorous sf.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 9:42 p.m. CST

    emvan & audience laughter

    by necgray

    I was sitting in an audience of people watching American Beauty and they laughed at Annette Bening slapping herself. Were they "supposed" to laugh there? That can be argued. And let's talk about the under 18s or the "younger" crowd's reaction. Given the popularity of shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Tim & Eric Awesome Show, the popularity of Jackass stunt videos and Youtube videos, I would argue that the "younger" crowd is exposed to more nonsensical narratives than traditional narratives and so are not put off by these leaps. This doesn't mean that nonsense is good, it just means that they're used to it. Which depresses the ever-loving shit out of me, personally. And there's always the great chance (and I'm sure you'll accuse me of condescension, but fuck it, I don't care) that these younger viewers are "playing along" because they think it makes them look smarter to "understand" ST. I trust Mori as a guy who gives a shit about narrative.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:22 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I thought so.

    by Zappary

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who hasn't drunk the Kelly Kool-aid.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:35 p.m. CST

    Mori! C'mon!

    by BGDAWES

    What the hell movie is it you're thinking of! Dammit, this is killing me for some reason! Arrrgh! <br> <br> I keep thinking Heaven's Gate, but I think that's just because I finished reading Final Cut a couple months ago (great book by the way).

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 10:57 p.m. CST

    emvan & intention

    by necgray

    Also, I think it's rather silly to state what Kelly's original "intention" was since Kelly's commentary reveals his own inadequacy at explaining himself. So kudos on your psychic powers. As for "rigorous" sf, you're kidding, right? I mean, calling Donnie Darko rigorous sf is like calling Straw Dogs risible comedy. If you want an example of rigorous sf, I suggest 2001 or Contact.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:05 p.m. CST

    AND "critic hat" comment

    by necgray

    Additionally, I think it's very telling that the "kids" aren't wearing their "critic hats" that demand "good storytelling". Gee, call me crazy for wanting narrative film to contain a coherent narrative. I guess I should take off my "critic hat" and forget that I'm in fact capable of critical thought. I guess I should give an ambitious movie a pass and not apply all those darn standards I've developed. This is the kind of art-school apologist bullshit that drives me nuts about independent or "art" films. You CAN'T remove narrative critique from narrative film.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:16 p.m. CST

    Great review and talkback

    by WillowFan2001

    The review: Seriously great. Count me as another DD fan who had already been suspicious of this movie. Now I have confirmation from someone I trust that my intuition was on. I can get pretentious theater and film down the road at my local university for need to spend money. The talkback: Wonderful, solely because of all the people who failed to notice the spoiler box, or who came in off another site, and spent their virtual breath railing against Moriarty for spoiling the ending. Dudes, it's not his responsibility if you: didn't notice the box, didn't understand what it meant, followed an unmarked link, or think the site is badly designed. But thanks for helping me get a laugh.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:47 p.m. CST

    Re "Critic's hat" and Storytelling

    by emvan

    I agree that it's probably not a good thing than kids no longer demand good storytelling. And I agree that kids universally loving the film despite its storytelling failures would not be a defense if those failures were ultimate and final. What the many "10" ratings tells you is just how wonderfully entertaining the film is if the apparent storytelling lapses don't have you fuming in your seat.<br><br>So there are two or three ways to enjoy this movie:<br><br>1) Turn off you critical faculties re storytelling (or fail to have any such faculties to begin with) (not recommended)<br><br>2)Read the graphic novels before you see the movie. Preferably twice. In which case there are no storytelling lapses and the only minor annoyance is the frequency with which you're told information you already know. And the movie absolutely rocks.<br><br>3)Have someone you're dating tell you a little about the graphic novel, and then go in expecting there to be some apparent storytelling gaps and don’t let them bother you (and have your date fill in the gaps afterwards). In which case, I'm told, the movie is thoroughly enjoyable.<br><br> The whole notion that the <i>unfamiliarity of the audience with the first half of the story</i> has nothing to do with the movie’s difficult reception is, when you think about it, absurd. Hopefully, the DVD will have some kind of slide show / animated version of the graphic novel, and not as an “extra” but as an advertised first half.

  • Nov. 26, 2007, 11:50 p.m. CST

    Maybe shoot for the middle is wrong...

    by Tourist

    ...But I get the feeling from your reviews you seem to hold the highest appreciation for quality craftsmanship, as opposed to throw it all out and hope it works type film making, which can be hit and miss sure, but when it hits, I usually find it more satisfying then something expertly tuned. I didn't mean to say you didn't get it in the traditional sense either. But, as I said, maybe its just not tailored for one with your tastes. Like lynch for me. I "get" his films, but I just don't think they are very interesting. Yet others love them. So I certainly don't get what they see in them at all. Although, your review seems to mirror almost everyone elses opinion though, even those who loved Darko. I hope it doesn't scare him off taking chances, or people taking chances on him though.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 12:02 a.m. CST

    emvan- You still havent explained why the audience should care

    by Lovecraftfan

    I find it hysterical how people are consistently and desperately trying to figure this movie out when it doesn't really matter. No matter how coherent the film gets the characters are still thinly sketched and still dull. Theres no reason to care about awesome metaphysics when the movie is dull. DD had an emotional through line. This doesn't.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 12:44 a.m. CST

    So, this is going to be a cult hit in the future.

    by The Dum Guy

    <br>If you can’t actually keep a cohesive train of thought in relation to reality, then a movie that has Justin Timberlake breaking out into a song and dance, while having various SNL members pop-up, will be great… on psilocybin mushrooms.<br>

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 12:59 a.m. CST

    Emvan, I'm sure you've heard

    by comedian_x

    the expression about, "if you have to explain the joke it probably isn't funny." Well that applies to this movie. If I have to read three Graphic Novels twice to extricate any sort of enjoyment from the film, then the film has failed -- period. <p> Take 2001, when I watched that film I didn't really understand it completely, but I was affected on an emotional level. I could have stopped there been perfectly happy without reading the novel or other interpretations. <p> If people have a non-reaction to the film then no amount of parsing panels of comics or "note taking" will bring them back.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 1:50 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... sounds like you felt like doing homework. Great. I think it's preposterous to tell an audience that a film won't work unless they've read three books beforehand. Either the film works or it doesn't. If Kelly couldn't tell his story as a movie, he shouldn't have bothered. There's a reason some stories work best as novels or as television shows or, yes, as comics, and the storyteller should embrace the medium in which that story will work best. As a standalone movie, SOUTHLAND TALES is, put bluntly, a disaster. This is the way the world ends... not with a whimper, but with bad reviews and a lousy per-screen average.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 2:07 a.m. CST

    Those damn kids

    by Laszlo Vilsay

    I never thought I'd hear a critic take flak for appreciating narrative finesse or technical craftsmanship in a movie. Well, for everyone who believes film is art and doesn't need to adhere to any lame rules, I submit to you "Southland Tales". This is the movie you've been waiting for. <p>Based on Metacritic's polling of 25 national film critics, it pulled a 43 out of 100 score. Playing on 29 screens in the U.S., it's grossed $227,000 over two weeks. The budget was over $17 million. These Talkbacks are about 10% positive, 90% negative. To say it’s “connecting” with audiences is a bit of a stretch.<p>But that's all right, because it's art, and if you didn't like it, that was because either you didn't understand it, didn't read the graphic novels, or you’re some square who likes his movies middle of the road, not ones that take risks. This is the only defense I'm hearing so far from people who enjoyed the movie.<p>And emvan, if “the kids” turn off their capacity for critical thought when they buy a movie ticket, “Natural Born Killers” would have been the biggest box office sensation of all time. Instead, “the kids” flocked to see “Pulp Fiction”, a movie that not only had a story to tell, but three, and told them with narrative finesse and technical craftsmanship.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 3:24 a.m. CST

    On pretentiousness.

    by a goonie

    I can see where the various sides are coming from on this issue, but I personally consider pretentious to be a damning critique. For me, pretentious movies are the result of filmmakers focusing so hard on creating a lasting piece of art that will win awards and critical acclaim and be remembered forever as a great work of genius that they lose sight of the importance of telling their story. I do not equate pretentiousness with ambition, although they can be similar. I am always excited to see a moviemaker try something new, step out of their comfort zone, tackle a project on an overwhelming scale, and if they fail, well, hopefully a lesson learned. What really drives me batty is when a filmmaker takes a shortcut and just assumes that by tweaking their creation in absurd and awkward ways just for the sake of doing it is taking the road to high art. Movies wouldn't be movies without filmmakers that think and dream larger than life. I am just bothered by the notion that great art can be concocted from a lazy formula.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 3:26 a.m. CST

    But of course...

    by a goonie

    ...I still haven't seen Southland Tales. So I have no idea if I'll be accusing Kelly of being pretentious or not. I just wanted to give my take on the word.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 4:28 a.m. CST


    by Tourist

    Natural Born Killers did very well.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 4:31 a.m. CST


    by Tourist

    This does look alot like A Scanner Darkly, from its promotional material. That was a flop of a film, commercially, and for me, artistically. Just flat out pointless stoner jokes and a mess of a story that went nowhere. Philip K Dick seems so hard to get right, since, even when they do, it seems so wrong.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 5:18 a.m. CST


    by IAmMrMonkey!

    It was one of my favourite movies of last year. Not only did was the rotoscoping technique perfect for the storyline but I enjoyed all of the performances too. That was a wonderful movie and I'm proud to own it.<p>I'll probably check this out. I have a wierd habit of liking stuff most other people think is shit.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 6:53 a.m. CST

    IAmMrMonkey!, I'm not going to try and stop you, but...

    by rbatty024

    people aren't disliking this movie because it's weird, they dislike it because it's poorly put together. I too loved A Scanner Darkly (as well as The Fountain) from last year but those were well crafted, well thought out pictures that were unique. Southland Tales really is all its detractors say it is, so when you go in please keep your expectations low. There are a handful of funny lines (that's being generous) and I actually liked the music video in the middle but that's about it. Oh, and Goonie, I think that's a great definition of pretentious, but since it has been deflated through improper use you pretty much have to recreate that paragraph in a review to get the point across instead of just using the word. Too many people have used it as a short term pejorative to mean the movie "doesn't fit my sensibilities." I don't have anything against the word per se, just how it has been misused which in turns affects everyone using the word.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 8:30 a.m. CST

    heaven's gate

    by ironic_name

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 2:25 p.m. CST

    A note on Prententiousness

    by drewlicious

    Not planning on Southland Tales, sounds like utter shit so I'm not going to bother. In my opinion the pretentious crap on earth resides in student films. Go to a casting website, there a tons of scripts that ponder some pseudo-intellectual philosophy with no regard for actual story. It's garbage and it benefits no one, especially the actors who agree to be in them. It turns them into props where the director wants emphasis on emotion but none on actual character because there is no character arc to speak of. If it sounds like I'm venting I am because this junk makes me want to vomit and Southland Tales sounds no different. Also, just for kicks would anyone care to note the most pretentious student film they've ever seen. I'm sure you've all seen quite a few. I'll start it was called "War Cry." A couple of Angels in military uniform go door to door informing and comforting the families of fallen soldiers. One of the angels flips out, decides he can't take it anymore and strips down butt naked running down the streets vanishing into thin air with his companion calling after him. This qualified for a short film festival at the Arclight by the way which just goes to show how far up it's own ass the film community is.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 3:26 p.m. CST

    Moriarty and "Pretentiousness"

    by NoDiggity

    I find it odd that Moriarty doesn't approve of the word, and then claims a more obscure usage of it (as a synonymn for ambitious) which would actually flatter most people if applied to them. When people try to dismiss certain words, it's a good indication that they have had the word applied to them, and resent it. And is Moriarty "pretentious" in the most common usage of the word? Does he write with an eye on inflating the importance of his reviews? He certainly does. Too many of his reviews are marred by a PRETENSE of a Godlike view of his subject, as he PRETENDS to be able to see the future career paths of the filmmakers, based on the one film he's reviewing. The same goes for the unnecessary details of his own film-watching history that he includes to supposedly inform the review, but which actually just serve to shine the spotlight on himself for being able to make these references. Mori, if someone calls you pretentious, take it like a man and try to remedy the flaw, don't start falsely accusing the word of having no utility.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 3:35 p.m. CST

    War Cry

    by drewlicious

    Nope. It was supposed to be serious. I would think just casting aside his medals would get the point across better but I guess they went with butt naked. They shot it in a suburb during the Oscar broadcast so no one really noticed a naked guy going down the street.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Mori, I was with you until the "preposterous" comment...

    by JimmyLoneWolf

    What, exactly, is so "preposterous" about making a film that requires reading three books beforehand? I actually got the idea a few months ago to write a novel that tells the first half of a story, a film that tells the second half, and an album of acoustic songs that can be played between each chapter. Kelly isn't the only guy out there who likes film AND literature/comic books <p> "A film should stand on its own"...not if it's the second half of a story that originated in another medium! I realize you have an issue with how "neccessary" the books are, but if they AREN'T neccessary that's a separate issue. AS INTENDED...this was a great idea, it just had a flawed execution.<p> Look, I'm not saying Kelly pulled this off or anything, because I haven't seen the film yet (it's playing in 2 theaters in Massachusetts), but where I have a problem with what you're saying is its discouragement of others to try similar "multimedia" projects. THAT was the most inventive thing about Southland Tales, and while I understand the financial implications (read: failure) of telling a story across different mediums, but I still think it's a noble, creative effort. Not "preposterous" at all.<p> Liking movies isn't an excuse to avoid reading, and when you can unite both of those interests in one project (even if the end result is mediocre), takes balls...and deserves praise, not condemnation.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 5:01 p.m. CST

    You Will Notice That Moriarty...

    by emvan

    pretty much copped to the fact that he read the graphic novels after seeing the movie, which means that his criticism of the novels is complete bullshit.<br><br> Furthermore, I completely *agree* with him that telling his story as 1/2 graphic novel and 1/2 movie was a colossal blunder, and that the movie alone, shorn of its first half, has storytelling problems out the wazoo.<br><br> So let us compare our experiences. I read a 350-page graphic novel and loved it so much I read it twice more, the went and saw the movie that continued the story and loved it so much that I saw it again (and will gladly see it a third time if it plays another week). Moriarty refused on principle to read the graphic novel, hated the movie only because the storytelling seemed so wretched, then went back and read through the graphic novels and failed to notice anything in them would magically change the experience he had already had.<br><br> I admit, Kelly dealt us a bizarre and arguably bogus hand, but I played the cards dealt me and had a rapturously good time. Moriarty took a stand and refused to play and was miserable. Which of us did the smarter thing?

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 7:26 p.m. CST

    Emvan, you rule!

    by IKnowStuff

    Emvan, thank you for being reasonable. Thank you for being knowledgable. Thank you for actually understanding and liking the movie. And thank you for writing like someone that knows how to read and write. Seems like most people here are so eager to bash this movie and compare it to some other failures, even if they haven't seen the actual film. That's pretty silly. Now, I can say, I didn't read the graphic novels, but I loved the movie. I absolutely intend to read them, only to enhance the film that I saw. And without the background required in the graphic novels, I still saw the movie twice, and loved every single moment of it. Maybe I was wrong in my own interpretation, but at least I made the effort to see something more. And I agree, the movie has easily become my 2nd favorite film of the year, just in terms of ambition, rewatchability, and sheer entertainment. But hey, Moriarty clearly has a better hold over the people in this talkback than we do, so it's probably all just a lost cause.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 9:27 p.m. CST

    emvan, you're stretching.

    by WillowFan2001

    First off, you can't claim on the basis of what Moriarty said that he didn't read the graphic novels first. All he said was that apparently you felt like reading them first. From the tenor of his writing, you can therefore infer that he didn't feel that way. And that's it. Just because he didn't feel like reading them first doesn't mean he didn't. Second, even if he did read the novels after he saw the movie, that doesn't make his criticism any less valid. I didn't need to read The Hobbit before I tackled The Lord of the Rings...and it didn't matter one bit that I knew Frodo's adventures before I got into Bilbo's. That's because they are complementary pieces of art...both can stand alone, and the trilogy merely enriched my experience of the "one-shot." If a viewer of Southland Tales really needs its graphic novels in order to understand what's going on, then the movie is not a self-contained piece of art. This seems like ample grounds for criticism, since there was nothing to indicate to the casual viewer that this would be so. Finally, as to which of you did the smarter thing, I think it's obvious--Mori was. He had the good sense to hold Kelly to the standard he set with Donnie Darko, which rewards extra work but doesn't require it. That is what excellent films should do. You, on the other hand, were uncritical enough to let Kelly get away with a particularly sloppy trick--"bogus" was the word you used, I believe. So you enjoyed yourself. That's lovely, and all very fine. But I would still rather be Moriarty dissatisfied than emvan satisfied.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 9:43 p.m. CST


    by WillowFan2001

    Your idea is the very definition of "pretentious." Projects that are united should be able to stand on their own as well. If one work is meant to enrich another, then everything's fine. But if one work is needed to understand another, then it's not. I shouldn't need to dissect "The Animatrix" to understand "Matrix: Reloaded," I shouldn't need to visit the Blair Witch website to make sense of "The Blair Witch Project," and I shouldn't need to browse a few graphic novels in order to make sense of a two-and-a-half hour movie. Plus, Southland Tales premiered at Cannes before the graphic novels were released, right? So how is that fair to the viewers there, who were clearly expecting a movie that stood on its own and weren't even forearmed with the OPTION of reading the graphic novels? Are you planning to release your film fist, then your album, and finally your novel? (Or album, film, novel?)

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 9:58 p.m. CST you?

    by WillowFan2001

    Despite what you think, it is not unreasonable to dislike a movie that only tells the second half of a story, and depends on three other works of art in a completely different medium to set it up. It is, on the other hand, extremely unreasonable to expect people to follow your lead and "[make] the effort to see something more" in an incomplete piece of art released in a medium that is known for releasing complete works. So I suppose people like me are indeed a lost cause, in that we want our art to give the appearance of making sense on its own terms before we spend our time on it. Bad us. As to whether people bashing Southland Tales without watching it are silly, well, I call bullshit. I don't have to drink sour milk to know that it's bad...really, all I have to do is smell it. Oh, by the way, you may have noticed that in my first post to emvan, I said "Mori was" when "Mori did" would be more correct. Also, in my second post to JimmyLoneWolf, "fist" takes the place of "first." You may decry these as grammatical mistakes, but they were not--they were part of a plan. You just don't get it because you don't have the context. To truly understand why I made these compositional choices in this set of three talkback posts, you will ned to red my eighteen-strip cartoon series entitled "Mr. Stuffypants," which will be released on in three weeks and which will fill in all this background for you. (HINT: There are two more "errors" in that last sentence, and the revelation behind my true purpose in "making" them will play a pivotal role in this post's climax. Also, there's a missile.) I now expect you to greet these posts with the same amount of awe that you are prepared to bestow on Southland Tales. That is all.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 10 p.m. CST

    I know talkbacks are for us weighing in, but jeez...

    by BadMrWonka

    how often do we go through this same senseless argumentation?<p>if I had a down syndrome cousin, and he got to see this movie before me, and said it sucked, I would take it for what it's worth. not a whole lot, since more than likely, we have pretty different standards for entertainment.<p>if, on the other hand, someone I have known my whole life, who shares almost all of my interests, tastes, preferences, etc. came back from the same screening telling me it sucked big time, I would take that as meaning a lot more.<p>Mori is far from retarded, and far from my best friend, so he falls in the middle. I read the review, take it for what it's worth, and make up my mind.<p>but the real point is, it's his JOB to tell us, without pansying around, exactly what he thought of the film. you don't like the fact he didn't read thirty pages of graphic novels beforehand? fine, but that is, to most people, not a reasonable expectation. you get the pass, you go to the theater, you see the movie, you take some notes, you write the review. because that is exactly what I would do (minus the passes, the notes, and the review, of course). <p>I applaud shooting for the stars, and I know that Mori does as well, but if something fails, it fails. even Pearl Jam covered "Last Kiss". everyone makes mistakes. <p>people ignoring the blatant, terrible stinkfest that was The Village, just allowed Shyamalan to retreat further into his bubble and make the EVEN WORSE Lady in the Water...<p>critics and fans alike side-stepping failures by over-reaching, yet talented artists, only ensures that they will continue flailing. the greater someone's talent and potential, the more should be expected from them. not just in output, but in input.

  • Nov. 27, 2007, 11:08 p.m. CST

    I choose Mori, here's why...

    by BGDAWES

    Not to kiss Drew's ass or anything (and I have definitely given him his fair share of shit before so I don't feel like a brown-noser) but he knocked it out of the park respective to this review. He most often does, but he's right about this one. <br> <br> I'm all for mixing media and I'm sure the graphic novels are really neat-o but that doesn't forgive the movie itself - you can't polish the turd that Southland Tales is with the pages of the comic book.

  • Nov. 28, 2007, 8:08 a.m. CST

    I feel SO bad...

    by minderbinder

    ...for all those whose appreciation of this wonderful movie is ruined by knowing that a rip in the time space continuum results in the ice cream truck flying in the air. What a tragedy. Or something.

  • Nov. 29, 2007, 4:38 a.m. CST

    Not to lose sight of the Big Picture...

    by Mostholy

    ...this film is really, really bad.