Southland Tales review by Bobby Blakey
In 2006, Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly unleashed his film Southland Tales featuring an all-star cast including Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean William Scott, Justin Timberlake, Kevin Smith, Mandy Moore, Amy Poehler, Nora Dunn, Miranda Richardson, Wallace Shawn, Janeane Garofalo, Curtis Armstrong, Jon Lovitz, Christopher Lambert, John Laroquette and Bai Ling. The film was critically panned upon its release but has since found a cult following. Now Arrow Video is bringing an all-new edition home for fans, but how does it hold up all these years later?
Southland Tales follows Los Angeles, 2008. as the city stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental chaos, where the fates of an eclectic set of characters - including an amnesia-stricken action star, an adult film star developing her own reality TV project and a police officer whose identity has split in two - intertwine with each other and with the whole of humanity.
I remember seeing this film back in 2006 and being a fan of Donnie Darko was pretty stoked to see it, especially with the cast involved. I honestly don’t remember much of it from then other than some minor moments and feeling a bit let down. After revisiting it all these years later I must say it works a bit better for me now. Sure it is a bit convoluted and I am not a big fan of the end sequences with the ice cream truck, but beyond that I really dug the bizarre, quirky nature of it all.
Everyone here gives a fun performance with Johnson really standing out for me. You have to remember this was at a time when he was still on the rise in films like The Rundown, The Scorpion King, and Walking Tall. Those films showcases he could lead an action film, but this one brought more drama and some comedy to the forefront and while most probably didn’t expect it at the time you can see that spark of superstar shining through here. The always great and underappreciated Sean William Scott
is great here too in dual roles. Gellar was decent enough clearly trying to step out of the Buffy persona and was fun to watch. The rest of the cast were good, but most get lost in this bizarre world.
There is a strange mix of random over the top futuristic styles and post-apocalyptic insanity all infused with the real world that didn’t look much different than today. The film bounces all over the place between these strange characters and most of the time makes sense, but every so often goes off on some strange tangent before finding its way back to its strange journey. This is one of those films that for sure won’t work for everyone, but I found myself really having a great time with it this time around and wonder if it could have been ahead of its time or is it just so crazy it works.
If you have never seen this film then now is the perfect time to check it out with this new Blu-ray release featuring a new 2K restoration approved by director Richard Kelly and director of photography Steven Poster. This collection not only features the 145-minute theatrical cut but also the 160-minute “Cannes cut”, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. In addition to the film this release includes tons of bonus content including commentary, image gallery, trailers, featurettes and more. As if that wasn’t enough, this collector’s edition also offers up a limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Peter Tonguette and Simon Ward.
Grab your copy of Southland Tales when it hits Blu-ray on January 26th from Arrow Video.