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PHOTOGRAPHY
SOUTHLAND TALES
Blu-ray review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 145 minutes/ 158 minutes, audio commentary (theatrical cut), documentary, featurette, animated short, image gallery, theatrical trailer
VIDEO: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) 1080p High Definition
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH

STUDIO: Arrow Video/ Universal Pictures/ Cherry Road Films/ Darko Entertainment/ Wild Bunch/ Inferno Distribution/ Eden Roc Productions/ Persistent Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: 1-26-2021
ANALYSIS (updated to add new thoughts to my original review):
SOUTHLAND TALES is a weird and wonderful film. It is the type of film destined to achieve cult status. SOUTHLAND TALES with it's wonderful dialogue and ideas is a mix of genres from sci-fi to action to comedy to political satire (focusing on Homeland Security, the war in Iraq, and the Patriot Act). Boxer Santaros (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is an action star with amnesia. He has hooked up with Kystra Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a porn star who has a reality show. Together they have written a screenplay called the power. During the course of SOUTHLAND TALES, the story happens like the screenplay Boxer has written. The world of SOUTHLAND TALES is an alternate 2008 where state borders have tightened security due to nuclear terrorist attacks in Texas in 2005. USIDent has been set up to filter information. People can cross into other states without travel papers. Also the oil crisis is heightened as the search for alternative fuel results in Fluid Karma which can beam energy by capturing the motion of the ocean as energy. In the middle of these events, Neo-Marxists, Officer Roland Travener (Seann Wiliam Scott) who is searching for his twin), an illegal weapons dealer named Walter Mung (Christopher Lambert), an action star turned soldier/ drug dealer (Justin Timberlake), and a senator who is running for President have their paths collide with Boxer, Krysta Now, and Fluid Karma's developers as a rift in time threatens to end the world as we know it.

SOUTHLAND TALES mixes commentary on today's world in a very absurd way with many different genre elements. It is a people very much about now as Homeland Security and the Patriot Act along with the upcoming Presidential race is very much in the minds of US citizens. Real ID is way of supposedly tightening ID standards to prevent terrorists, but many see it as an invasion of privacy and a step too far. Many United Sates governors (including the one from Montana) have objected to Real ID. Then you have the war in Iraq and the rising gas costs. SOUTHLAND TALES entertains while making the viewer think about the direction the USA is hiding to or might lead to. SOUTHLAND TALES focuses on now like STRANGE DAYS did a decade earlier (about the fear of the upcoming millennium). SOUTHLAND TALES has an agenda. It is an agenda to open our minds about the issues that may already be on the minds of US citizens.

Watching SOUTHLAND TALES today gives me new insight that it is a movie that is like a Philip K. Dick novel with its mix of philosophy and questioning of reality. SOUTHLAND TALES is like what if the works of David lynch and Philip K. Dick had a love child. It also has the questioning of reality by some protagonists while other characters want to bring the end to reality. Dwayne Johnson gives a performance different from the rest of his roles. This movie has an amazing cast which also includes Bai Ling among others and they bring their A Game to their performances.

Richard Kelly has an overly ambitious movie with SOUTHLAND TALES. He envisioned SOUTHLAND TALES as a nine chapter saga. The movie is the middle three chapters while the graphic novels are the first three chapters (I wish Arrow could have included the graphic novels or a preview of them with the set). Richard wants to revisit SOUTHLAND TALES and tackle the final three chapters. I wish him luck and you should check out the movie (or check it out again whether you love it or hate it) because this movie is a work of love done by a director on a limited budget and schedule. The producers wanted him to cut things, but Richard pushed on to get everything shot. The bad thing is he debuted the Cannes Cut in hopes he would get more movie to finish the special effects. However, a negative reaction caused him to cut the movie down and it was dumped into theaters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
The Arrow Video edition of SOUTHLAND TALES does add some new extras like the 158 minute Cannes Cut which has never been released to DVD or blu-ray in addition to a new three-part retrospective documentary on the making of the movie called IT'S A MADCAP WORLD: THE MAKING OF AN UNFINISHED FILM. The documentary details the origins of the movie, the struggles Richard Kelly had during the making of it, and how the special effects weren't finished. It is a documentary you should watch to see how he fought to get the movie made the way he wanted even when it meant some scenes were done in one take (like some of the stunt scenes) or two takes.

Audio commentary on the theatrical cut by Richard Kelly
USIDENT TV: SURVEILLING THE SOUTHLAND which is a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at SOUTHLAND TALES. A few of the actors don't understand the script as it is very complex.

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS animated short.

There is also a limited edition booklet with two essays on SOUTHLAND TALES- No Sophomore Slump: The delirious Heights of Richard Kelly's Southland Tales by Peter Tonguette and Filling The Post-Donnie Darko Void: The Southland Tales Website by Simon Ward

FINAL ANALYSIS: SOUTHLAND TALES is an overly ambitious movie. I loved revisiting it and finding out about its production history. I thought the Twilight Zone ending ruined DONNIE DARKO while I really love what SOUTHLAND TALES was trying to do. It tapped into the time it was made while also still being tied into what is going on in the USA today. If you're a fan of Philip K. Dick, you may want to give this one a spin.

This review is (c)3-13-2021 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to feedback@enterline-media.com and check for further content at http://enterlinemedia.tumblr.com