The River

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Southland Tales opens tomorrow in select cities

Apocalypse Soon: A Mushroom Cloud Doesn’t Stall 2008 Electioneering

New York Times, November 14, 2007


American cinema is in the grip of a kind of moribund academicism, which helps explain why a fastidiously polished film like “No Country for Old Men” can receive such gushing praise from critics. “Southland Tales” isn’t as smooth and tightly tuned as “No Country,” a film I admire with few reservations. Even so, I would rather watch a young filmmaker like Mr. Kelly reach beyond the obvious, push past his and the audience’s comfort zones, than follow the example of the Coens and elegantly art-direct yet one more murder for your viewing pleasure and mine [When I saw the preview in the theater, I asked my freind, "and I should care why?" -- ed.]. Certainly “Southland Tales” has more ideas, visual and intellectual, in a single scene than most American independent films have in their entirety, though that perhaps goes without saying.

Neither disaster nor masterpiece, “Southland Tales” again confirms that Mr. Kelly, who made a startling feature debut with “Donnie Darko,” is one of the bright lights of his filmmaking generation. 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. Only an American who loves his country as much as Mr. Kelly does could blow it to smithereens and then piece it together with help from the Rock, Buffy, Mr. Timberlake and a clutch of professional wisenheimers. He does want to give peace a chance, seriously.


There's only one thing wrong with the U. S. of A., it never existed outside of fiction.

And everyone but the conspiracy buffs have lost the plot.
That is no popcorn for old men.

I read the book, love the Coen brothers even when they're talking in their secret language like Poto and Kabengo, children lost on an island and raised by gibbons. All the same I wondered what the hell they were doing directing a Cormac McCarthy movie, particularly as I read the book, which is itself on the wrong end of a conspiracy theory.

Donnie Darko is far more uplifting, so I'll check out Southland Tales. I haven't forgiven you for Children of Men yet, but at least the title wasn't ripped off from a Blake poem.
"at least the title wasn't ripped off from a Blake poem"

Er, no, but the opening words are from an Eliot poem.

BUT, at least Mr. Kelly realizes we are in fucked up territory -- his Donnie Darko anticipated our hightened them-and-us jingoistic climate -- and he's making a film about it. It's satire, and I know the boy ain't stupid, so I definitely think you should go. I'm jealous, however, because I don't think it's going to open in Atl. I look forward to your reveiw :)

Did you ever take my advice on "How I Got Into College"?
Dear Mr. Springsteen,

Yeah, I caught the Eliot ref, and don't hold it against him, nor the Blake ref against McCarthy. Just thought it was funny they're out at the same time. One could make quite some PhD hay with comparisons of late-empire apocalyptic literature in Spain, Holland, France, England, and The stuff of Don Quixote and Candide.

Forrest Gump, for example, was the American Candide, chronicling epochal events which total up to restless catastrophe. Vietnam is where this country really went round the bend too fast and got caught by the state trooper with a radar gun.

D.Darko was definitely a film that scared me, scared me for being too true. To paraphrase Dilbert, it all came together for me when I realized how viciously our society hates children now. Particularly boys who feel and girls who think.

So yes, I will go see Southland, fer sure. And yes, I did take your advice on How I Got Into College at my video store (where Children of Men has been the #1 rental for about 6 months), but they didn't have a copy of it. They said, "Gee, we should have that one." So I'll check again.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the band!
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