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Southland Tales: A Flawed Tale with Touches of Brilliance

Updated on September 18, 2008

Southland Tales

This week, I got the chance to watch Southland Tales. This is a sci fi movie from the same director as Donnie Darko. Like Donnie Darko, it doesn't quite make sense on first watching. Unlike Donnie Darko, when you have time to think about it and watch it again, it still doesn't make sense.

The movie has numerous flaws. The writing is at times cliche. The acting is over the top. Throughout the story, there are large doses of profanity and sudden violence. The profanity especially is out of place and feels more like a sophomore movie effort than a film that was presented at the Cannes films festival.

The violence to some extent has a place in setting the post-apolyptic tone but I found it excessive, mean, and at times, disruptive of the story line. Too many people are killed and the violence, in my opinion, takes away from the feel of the story.

There is a surprise twist but after you think it through, unfortunately, there is really little pay off. When it is done, you wonder why the director bothered. The quotes from Jack Frost and the statements about the End of the World, in my view, don't add up. There may be ideas here that are worth thinking about but they are not clear.

Even so, there are touches of brilliance in this movie. There are scenes that work so well that you wish the whole movie could be filled with them. I especially liked the music video sequence. The tone of the movie and the costumes work well. But in the end, this is not enough.

The movie narration, the needless violence, the overacting, and the pointless ending left me empty and wondering why I bothered to watch the whole movie.


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    • Urban Farm Girl profile image

      Urban Farm Girl 

      8 years ago from El Cerrito, California

      I watched this movie and was completely lost. :p

    • larryfreeman profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Fremont, CA

      Hi Darren,

      Thanks very much for your comment! I believe that there is a lot of interesting ideas in the film. I will check out your take on it.

    • Darren Moverley profile image

      Darren Moverley 

      9 years ago from Wales

      . I seem to be the only person who actually liked South land tales. I think the film is an indictment of the media age we live in. It’s a pastiche of the nightmarish tactics employed by television. One of the many great ideas in the film was that there seems to be a sort of underground war fought between the fascist corporate media and an left-wing neo-Marxist group, who both are seen manipulating cctv cameras for their own ends. I think the film has genuinely subversive edgy rarely seen in American cinema. Checkout my review for a positive reflection on the film and an explanation for why I think the film has a great deal to see about the nature of celebrity.


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