Southland Tales

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Southland Tales

Promotional poster for Southland Tales
Directed by Richard Kelly
Produced by Sean McKittrick
Bo Hyde
Kendall Morgan
Written by Richard Kelly
Starring Dwayne Johnson
Seann William Scott
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Justin Timberlake
Wallace Shawn
Miranda Richardson
Mandy Moore
Christopher Lambert
Kevin Smith
John Larroquette
Jon Lovitz
Cheri Oteri
Amy Poehler
Beth Grant
Nora Dunn
Will Sasso
Zelda Rubinstein
Curtis Armstrong
Music by Moby
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (DVD)
Universal Pictures
Release date(s) May 21, 2006
Running time 144 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15–17 million
Gross revenue Domestic:

Southland Tales is a 2006 science fiction/drama/black comedy film, written and directed by Richard Kelly. The title refers to the Southland, a name used by locals to refer to Southern California and Greater Los Angeles. Set in the then near future of an alternate history, the film is a portrait of Los Angeles and a comment on the military-industrial news-tainment complex. The film features an ensemble cast. Original music for the film was provided by Moby. Samuel Goldwyn Films in partnership with Destination Films and Sony Pictures released Southland Tales.

The film premiered May 21, 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a negative reception.[1][2] After significant edits, the final version premiered at Fantastic Fest on September 22, 2007.[3] It opened in limited release in California on November 14, 2007 and in Canada as well as nationwide in United States, in just 63 theaters,[4] on November 16, 2007. The film opened in the United Kingdom on December 7, 2007.[5]


[edit] Plot summary

El Paso and Abilene, Texas have fallen victim to twin nuclear attacks on July 4, 2005 – a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions which has sent America into World War III. The PATRIOT Act has extended authority to a new agency known as US-IDent, which keeps constant tabs on citizens – even to the extent of censoring the internet and using fingerprints in order to access computers and bank accounts. In order to be able to respond to a newfound fuel shortage in the wake of global warfare, the German company Treer designs a generator of inexhaustible energy which is propelled by ocean currents, called "Fluid Karma". Unbeknownst to anyone but its inventor Baron Von Westphalen and his closest associates, the generators alter the currents and cause the Earth to slow its rotation, ripping holes in the fabric of space and time.

In Los Angeles, a city on the brink of chaos overshadowed by the growth of the underground Neo-Marxist movement, the film follows the criss-crossed destinies of Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson), an action film actor stricken with amnesia; Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), ex-porn star in the midst of creating a reality TV show; and twin brothers Roland and Ronald Taverner (both played by Seann William Scott), whose destinies – on one evening – become intertwined with that of all mankind.

[edit] Cast

[edit] Principal cast

  • Dwayne Johnson as Boxer Santaros/Jericho Cane: An amnesiac action star whose life crosses paths with Krysta Now.[6] Santaros is married to Madeline Frost Santaros.[7]
  • Seann William Scott as Roland Taverner/Ronald Taverner: A U.P.U. police officer at Hermosa Beach, California[6] and an identical character who is a neo-Marxist[7]. Although the film is ambiguous, it is implied that the two characters are one and the same; the second Taverner was created by the first's passage through a rift in the fabric of the fourth dimension.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar as Krysta Now aka Krysta Kapowski: An adult film star who is working on creating a reality TV show.[6] Gellar met with Kelly and was drawn to the original ideas in his script for Southland Tales.[8]
  • Mandy Moore as Madeline Frost Santaros: Wife of Boxer Santaros and daughter of Senator Bobby Frost.
  • Justin Timberlake as Pilot Abilene: A disfigured Iraq War veteran.[9] He narrates the film and also performs a musical number.[7]
  • Nora Dunn as Cyndi Pinziki: A porn director and principal member of USIDeath, an organization with plans to destroy US-IDent.
  • John Larroquette as Vaughn Smallhouse: An advisor to Senator Bobby Frost.[7]
  • Jon Lovitz as Bart Bookman: An LAPD cop, secretly working with the Neo-Marxists.[7]
  • Miranda Richardson as Nana Mae Frost: The ambitious antagonist of the film, Boxer's mother-in-law is the head of US-IDent.
  • Wallace Shawn as Baron Von Westphalen: A villain who utilizes ocean waves to create a source of power.[7]
  • Kevin Smith as Simon Theory: A legless Iraqi War veteran who works for Baron Von Westphalen.[10]

[edit] Supporting cast

[edit] Production

Writer-director Richard Kelly wrote Southland Tales shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the original script involved blackmail, a porn star, and two cops. Since the attacks, Kelly revised the script. He described the update, "[The original script] was more about making fun of Hollywood. But now it's about, I hope, creating a piece of science fiction that's about a really important problem we're facing, about civil liberties and homeland security and needing to sustain both those things and balance them."[9] He has also described the film as a "tapestry of ideas all related to some of the biggest issues that I think we're facing right now . . . alternative fuel or the increasing obsession with celebrity and how celebrity now intertwines with politics".[11] With the film's premise of a nuclear attack on Texas, Kelly wanted to take a look at how the United States would respond to and survive it while constructing a "great black comedy".[11]

Kelly described the film, "[Southland Tales] will only be a musical in a post-modern sense of the word in that it is a hybrid of several genres. There will be some dancing and singing, but it will be incorporated into the story in very logical scenarios as well as fantasy dream environments."[12] Kelly has stated that the film's biggest influences are Kiss Me Deadly, Pulp Fiction, Brazil and Dr. Strangelove. He also calls it a "strange hybrid of the sensibilities of Andy Warhol and Philip K. Dick".[13] The film often references religious and literary works; a policeman says, "Flow my tears," in reference to the Philip K. Dick novel, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Pilot Abilene (Justin Timberlake) quotes Biblical scripture from the Book of Revelation in the course of narrating the film and allusion is made both to Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and an altered version of T. S. Eliot's The Hollow Men.

In March 2004, Kelly and Cherry Road Films began development of Southland Tales. Filmmakers entered negotiations with actors Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Lee, Janeane Garofalo, Tim Blake Nelson, Amy Poehler, Kevin Smith and Ali Larter to be cast into the film. Filmmakers also contacted musician Moby for the possibility of composing and performing the film's score.[12] While casting the film, Kelly consciously sought out actors that he felt had been pigeonholed and wanted to showcase their "undiscovered talents".[11]

Filming was slated to begin in July 2004, but after a year, filming had not begun on Southland Tales. Actor Dwayne Johnson joined the cast in April 2005, and principal photography was slated to begin August 1, 2005 in Los Angeles.[6] Filming for Southland Tales began on August 15, 2005, with a budget of around US$15–17 million.

Kelly sent the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival a rough cut of Southland Tales on DVD assuming that it would not be accepted.[14] Much to his surprise, they loved it and wanted the film entered in competition for the Palme d'Or. He stopped editing the film and was also unable to complete all of the visual effects in time for the screening.[14] Kelly's film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2006 with a length of 160 minutes.[15] Kelly describes the negative reaction at Cannes as a "very painful experience on a lot of levels" but ultimately felt that the film "was better off because of it".[14] After the film's festival release, Southland Tales was purchased by Sony Pictures.[16] Universal Pictures had originally optioned the U.S. rights, but after the Cannes screening, it was sold to Sony, although Universal still retained some international rights. Kelly sought more financing to finish visual effects for the film, and he negotiated a deal with Sony to cut down on the film's length in exchange for funds to complete the visual effects.[17] Kelly edited the film down to the basic storylines of the characters portrayed by Scott, Gellar, and Johnson. The director also sought to keep the musical number performed by Timberlake, based on "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers which he felt was the heart and soul of the film.[9] Editorial changes were made to restructure the order of the film's scenes, including re-recording all of Timberlake's voice-over. The director also added 90 new visual effects shots to the film and removed 20 to 25 minutes of footage from his initial cut.[18]

[edit] Soundtrack

The soundtrack for Southland Tales was released in stores and online on November 6, 2007. Amongst the songs not available on the soundtrack but featured in the film are Muse's "Blackout", The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done", and Blur's "Tender". Additionally, tracks from Radiohead, Louis Armstrong, Beethoven, Kris Kristofferson and several tracks from Moby's Hotel:Ambient are likewise absent from the album. The reason for the exclusion of some of these tracks, like the song by The Killers was as a result of a dispute with the record label.[14]

[edit] Release

[edit] Marketing

Southland Tales was initially planned to be a nine-part "interactive experience", with the first six parts published in six 100-page graphic novels that would be released in a six-month period up to the film's release. The feature film comprises the final three parts of the experience. A website was also developed to intertwine with the graphic novels and the film itself.[6] The idea of six graphic novels was later narrowed down to three. The novels were written by Kelly and illustrated by Brett Weldele. Kelly wrote them while making the film and found it very difficult as it pushed him "to the edge of my own sanity", as he remarked in an interview.[14]

They have been collected together into one single volume:

The titles of the parts in the movie are:

  • Part Four: Temptation Waits
  • Part Five: Memory Gospel
  • Part Six: Wave of Mutilation

[edit] Theatrical release

Southland Tales was originally scheduled to be released in the United States on November 9, 2007 in partnership with Destination Films and Sony Pictures.[19] The release of the film, in just 63 theaters, was pushed back five days to November 14, 2007.[20] The film was released in the UK on December 7, 2007 exclusively to UK cinema chain Cineworld in only very few locations. Southland Tales did not receive cinema release in Australia.

[edit] Home video release

The R1 DVD for the film was released on March 18, 2008, in the U.S. and the R2 release was on March 31, 2008, in the UK. The Australian retailer EzyDVD gives an April 30, 2008, release date on their website. Special features include a 33 minute documentary USIDent TV: Surveiling the Southland and a 10 minute animated short film This Is the Way the World Ends (not on UK R2 edition). On March 25, 2009, the R2 DVD was released in France.

Richard Kelly has claimed on his MySpace blog that he had very little time for the DVD as he was starting shooting on his next feature, The Box. However, he has stated several times that if Sony commissioned one (based on the sales of the current DVD), he'd happily be involved in a 'Director's Cut' DVD in the future with more special features and deleted scenes from the Cannes cut.

On September 8, 2008, it was announced that it would be one of the five movies being released on Blu-ray Disc on November 18, 2008. The only new special feature announced was commentary by Richard Kelly.

[edit] Reception

[edit] Cannes Film Festival

Along with two other American filmmakers (Sofia Coppola with Marie-Antoinette and Richard Linklater with Fast Food Nation), Kelly's follow-up to Donnie Darko was in competition for the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and was screened on May 21 at the Grand Lumiere Theater.[21]

Critical reaction to the movie in its original, longer form was almost entirely negative. Many critics responded unfavorably to the film's long running time and sprawling nature. Roger Ebert described the Cannes screening as "The most disastrous since, yes, The Brown Bunny."[22] critic Andrew O'Hehir called the Cannes cut "about the biggest, ugliest mess I've ever seen."[23] Jason Solomons, in The Observer (UK), said that "Southland Tales was so bad it made me wonder if [Kelly] had ever met a human being" and that ten minutes of the "sprawling, plotless, post-apocalyptic farrago" gave him the "sinking feeling that this may be one of the worst films ever presented in [Cannes] competition."[24] A handful of the American and European critics, however, were more positive.[25] Village Voice critic J. Hoberman, for example, called Southland Tales "a visionary film about the end of times" comparable in recent American film only to David Lynch's acclaimed Mulholland Drive.[26]

[edit] Critical reception

The film received wildly divided reviews from critics[27]. As of February 6, 2008 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 37% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 79 reviews.[28] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 44 out of 100, based on 26 reviews.[29]

Glenn Kenny, in his review for Premiere criticized the film's style, "Kelly's camera placement and framing are at best textbook and at worst calamitously mediocre."[30] In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Carina Chocano wrote, "You get the sense that Kelly is too angry to really find any of it funny. It's easy to empathize with his position, not so easy to remain engrossed in a film that's occasionally inspired but ultimately manic and scattered."[31] David Edelstein's review in New York magazine criticized the film's writing, "Kelly aims high and must have shot off his own ear, which is the only way to account for the dialogue."[32]

On the program Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper and guest critic Michael Phillips gave the film a negative review. While Roeper called the film "Two hours and twenty four minutes of abstract crap", Phillips felt that "the film has a head on its shoulders despite that fact that it can't find any direction."[33]

However, J. Hoberman defended the film, yet again, in his review for the theatrical cut. "In its willful, self-involved eccentricity, Southland Tales is really something else. Kelly's movie may not be entirely coherent, but that's because there's so much it wants to say."[34] Manohla Dargis also gave the film a positive review in The New York Times, writing, "He doesn’t make it easy to love his new film, which turns and twists and at times threatens to disappear down the rabbit hole of his obsessions. Happily, it never does, which allows you to share in his unabashed joy in filmmaking as well as in his fury about the times."[35]

Nathan Lee of The Village Voice named Southland Tales the best film of 2007.[36] J. Hoberman of The Village Voice named it the third best film of 2007.[37] Manohla Dargis at The New York Times had it in her Best of '07 as well.[36]

[edit] Box office performance

Southland Tales grossed USD $275,380 in limited release at the North American box office, and $81,028 elsewhere, making a worldwide total of $356,408,[38] falling far short of the film's $15-17 million budget. It should be noted that this was with the film playing on only 63 screens (a standard art house release is 300 screens).

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Review on". Retrieved on 2007-12-06. 
  2. ^ "New York Times review by Manohla Dargis". Retrieved on 2007-12-06. 
  3. ^ "Official Fantastic Fest blog". Retrieved on 2008-02-22. 
  4. ^ "Southland Tales (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2007-12-25. 
  5. ^ "Southland Tales (2006) - Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2007-11-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Cherry Road Films (2005-04-21). "The Rock Heads to Tales". Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Angela Doland (2006-05-21). "'Southland' Imagines L.A. Apocalypse". Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  8. ^ "Gellar Heads To Southland". 2004-10-05. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  9. ^ a b c Mark Peranson (2006-05-30). "Goodbye Southland, Goodbye". The Village Voice.,peranson,73376,20.html. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  10. ^ Hilary Goldstein (2005-07-26). "Before Southland Tales". IGN. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  11. ^ a b c Angela Doland (2006-05-21). "Southland Imagines L.A. Apocalypse". Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-06-07. 
  12. ^ a b Cathy Dunkley (2004-03-24). "Cherry Road hot for Kelly's 'Tales'". Variety. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  13. ^ Etherington, Daniel (2006). "Southland Tales preview". Channel 4. Retrieved on 2005-09-16. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Sean Gandert (2007-11-14). "Catching Up With . . . Richard Kelly". Paste magazine. Retrieved on 2007-06-07. 
  15. ^ Harlan Jacobson (2006-05-22). "'Volver,' 'Southland Tales' premiere at Cannes". USA Today. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  16. ^ Mark Bell (2006-09-12). "How The World Ends: Conversation With Richard Kelly". Film Threat. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  17. ^ Jeremy Smith (2007-07-28). "Exclusive Interview: Richard Kelly (Southland Tales)". Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  18. ^ Patrick Lee; Cindy White (2007-07-28). "Kelly Talks Southland Changes". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  19. ^ Addie Morfoot (July 24, 2007). "'Southland Tales' opens Nov. 9". Variety. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  20. ^ "Southland Tales (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2007-12-25. 
  21. ^ Jacobson, Harlan (2006-05-22). "Volver, Southland Tales premiere at Cannes". USA Today. Retrieved on 2008-06-06. 
  22. ^ Ebert, Roger (2007-11-16). "Southland Tales". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2007-11-19. 
  23. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (2006-05-22). "Beyond the Multiplex: Cannes". Retrieved on 2006-07-10. 
  24. ^ Solomons, Jason (2006-05-28). "Get set for Palme Sunday". The Observer.,,1784492,00.html. Retrieved on 2006-07-10. 
  25. ^ Links to many post-Cannes reviews, including multiple positive reviews by American, French, Spanish, Polish, and other reviewers.
  26. ^ Hoberman, J. (2006-05-23). "Code Unknown". Village Voice.,hoberman,73309,20.html. Retrieved on 2006-07-10. 
  27. ^ Southland Tales (2006) Recap @ the agony booth
  28. ^ "Southland Tales - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2008-02-06. 
  29. ^ "Southland Tales (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-02-06. 
  30. ^ Kenny, Glenn (2007-11-13). "Southland Tales". Premiere. Retrieved on 2007-11-14. 
  31. ^ Chocano, Carina (2007-11-14). "Southland Tales". Los Angeles Times.,0,970418.story?coll=cl-movies. Retrieved on 2007-11-14. 
  32. ^ Edelstein, David (2007-11-12). "Family Guy". New York. Retrieved on 2007-11-14. 
  33. ^ Southland Tales review on the At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper website.
  34. ^ Hoberman, J. (2007-11-06). "Revelation". Village Voice.,hoberman,78254,20.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-14. 
  35. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2007-11-14). "Apocalypse Soon: A Mushroom Cloud Doesn’t Stall 2008 Electioneering". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-11-14. 
  36. ^ a b "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-01-05. 
  37. ^ "2007 Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll". Village Voice. Retrieved on 2008-03-26. 
  38. ^ "Southland Tales (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-02-06. 

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