Okay, so we all love Donnie Darko but what the hell happened after that? Richard Kelly's directorial debut is now considered a cult classic and anyone who knows anything about notable films of 2001 has probably already seen this time and time again. But what became of Richard after that? He wrote the story for the Tony Scott directed Domino that came out in 2005 but it wasn't until 2006 that he returned to the director's chair once again, with the highly anticipated Southland Tales.
Now... I honestly don't know what to say about "Southland" - it feels like a very strange and misguided piece of cinema and it probably deserves a much smarter audience. And I'll tell you why. Southland Tales is one of the first (if not the only) movie that I've seen, which left me completely mindboggled when people came up to me afterwards and asked me what I thaught of it.
It's just... I mean... you know... like, timetravel and The Rock, weird twins, Sarah Michelle Gellar as some kind of prostitute... uhm... some big musical number... eh... the end of the world, WHAT THE FUCK!? To put it the easy way, Southland Tales took the strange parts of Donnie Darko and pumped them full of acid to the brink where everything we see on screen looks like one hell of a film but what we're seeing is so hard to figure out in terms of "where the hell is this going?" that the film leaves you with a complete sense of "Well, this was either the worst film of all time or a complete masterpiece!" once the end credits start rolling...
... and I think that's pretty much the only way I can explain it. So my suggestion is that you go into Southland Tales not trying to understand it but rather just try to look at it as an atmospheric and bizarre blend of interesting cinema combined with a bit of tongue-in-cheek irony that's supposed to go with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar's preformances.
Because that's the other thing that's so weird. I have NEVER really watched a film where either Sarah or Dwayne (yeah, that's his REAL name in case you didn't know - but this is the first film where he was ever credited as something other than "The Rock" so go figure) gave what I would call "a serious" preformance - I mean I'm not saying that they're bad actors but they're not exactly Oscar-material if you look at what kind of roles they usually play.
But then came Southland... and I think that's also part of why this film is so hard to take in. Sarah Michell Gellar and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnsson are just so out of place and so far from anything they have EVER done when starring in this film so for me it was close to impossible to get a grip of what I was watching. Is it good? Is it bad? Are they trying to be ironic or are they just wrong for the part? And why are there two identical cops running around? JUST TELL ME WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE! "Have A Nice Apocalypse"!? What does that even mean!?
Okay, I'm drifting away again but this is the kind of impact the film had on me. I was completely blindsided, I couldn't make up my mind about it. And did I mention it also has Justin Timberlake in it? Oh yeah, Justin Fucking Timberlake and Seann William Scott - and they both do a great job with whatever the hell is going on.
SO GET TO THE POINT!
Of course, and here's the thing. Southland Tales isn't even why I'm writing. I wasn't gonna talk about that film at all but I just had to mention it in order for you to understand where this guy is coming from. Because yesterday I sat down to watch Richard Kelly's latest cinematic riddle. The film is called The Box and it stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden in what appears to be the first of an entirely new type of strange in Mr. kelly's portfolio.
The Box is a very strange and mysterious film but it differs to Southland Tales in the sense that I actually knew what I thaught afterwards. Was I able to grasp it all? Absolutely NOT! But it's still a very interesting film and makes me think of David Lynch just as much as of Richard Kelly, which I think is a very interesting mixture. The film is based on a short story called "Button, Button" and revolves around a couple who recieve a strange wooden box with a button on it from a mysterious man with a horrific face deformation. He tells them that if they push the button, someone (whom they don't know) will die and they will recieve a cash payment of 1 million dollars. If they don't push the button the offer and the money will go to someone else and they have 24 hours to decide. And if they discuss the matter with ANYONE the offer will be withdrawn and there will be "consequences".
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie but it turned out to be one of the most mindboggling things yet... but in a good way. The tone of the film feels very David Lynch:ian but the storyline still has a lot of ingridients that I've now come to associate with the director himself, such as timetravel, alternate realities and the ever so overshadowing end of the world.
So if you're looking for a movie that requires a lot more brainpower than what the average moviegoer is capable of this might just be the thing for you. And if you also want to see the mysterious characters that you'de commonly find in a David Lynch film misplaced into the dark and moody locations of David Fincher's Zodiac (alongside a couple of places that feel more like something out of the X-files) then this is just what you need...
... or so I'm guessing...