Saturday, December 08, 2007
Southland Tales is playing in one cinema in London. This may be one too many.
The follow-up to Donnie Darko is like going on a really bad date with a cheating lover. You love them. You want to believe their story. All your friends warned you about them, and you wouldn't listen, but gradually, horribly, the truth about them is revealed. And they keep on talking and talking and talking and you just want them to stop because your heart is choked with bile and hatred.
Over the 140 minutes/years/hours that the film endures I went straight from "Richard Kelly is a misunderstood genius", through "Richard Kelly, please shut up", and reached "Fuck you Richard Kelly" fairly quickly.
Kate and I did consider leaving. But when we booked two tickets the cinema offered us free popcorn and chocolate, which made us feel guilty about sneaking out. And Southland Tales is so distractingly odd that you keep watching. With giddy boredom.
Things happen that you'll tell your kids. There are the musical numbers, and the bit with an ice cream van and a zeppelin. These are all remarkable things. Not necessarily good, but remarkable. And when you talk about them, they sound a little bit amazing, and a lot more exciting than they actually were.
Normally, I hate people talking during films, but Southland Tales provoked its tiny audience into anxious murmuring. What was said most often, as a whisper, a whimper, or even a yell, was "What the fuck?"
It does actually end. There's a point when you think it can't possibly and that you will be trapped watching this insane babble until you die and your seats are taken by your children, the products of a brief, mindless rutting that failed to distract or console. And then your children, who have seen nothing else except darkness and Southland Tales, will settle down and watch the film while raising miserable halfbreeds of their own, mindless gibbering fools, mutants so pathetic and isolated that they'll actually enjoy Southland Tales.
Yes, it is that bad. The only consolation prize is Seann William Scott who spends the entire film looking like this: