Southland Tales…A Wave of Mutilation

southland talesBy: Grainne Rhuad

“This is how the world ends” is how this movie begins and we are reminded of it throughout the movie…for those of us that thought a movie with a higher than normal Saturday Night Live alum cast and Sarah Michelle Gellar was cause for a big splif  before watching.

While I generally would not admit to enjoying, never mind recommending a movie that includes both Justin Timberlake and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  In this case I was taken off guard and surprised.

I happened upon this movie during my summer long recuperation.  I had already passed it up several times based on the synopsis offered by Cinemax, but was running out of viewing options that day and figured what the heck.

What I got was a diamond in the rough.

Set in an alternate post nuclear future; Southern California is presented as sort of a City-State.  The government, of course is the root of all evil and Hollywood, well hasn’t changed much.  Pumping out movies that support the status quo and canoodling with the political big-wigs.

At the center of the plot is a race to find a new way to produce energy, which a scientist played by Wallace Shawn…I know “IN-CON-CIEVE-ABLE!!” has just about figured out.

However Venice Beach has become a hotspot for a radical neo-Marxist terrorist group run by Saturday Night Live Alumni Nora Dunn, in a highly clichéd Lesbian Radical character.   In fact much of this movie is highly clichéd and it is for that reason I think it works.

This movie directed by Donnie Darko’s acclaimed Director Richard Kelly embodies the type of off the scale Cheeze that somehow contains a very real message.   It reminds me a bit of Idiocracy.  Ridiculousness for the sake of social commentary.

It is the jagged turns and Cheeze that garnered this movie a lot of downturned thumbs.  But I’m no snobby critic.  I love Cheeze in movies and sometimes, this being one of them, Cheeze is the binding ingredient that makes the whole plot work.

Dwayne Johnson did a stellar job playing a confused and out of it movie star, it almost seemed as if he didn’t have to stretch much…hmmm.  But it is the supporting cast that makes this movie enjoyable.  Keep an eye out for John Larroquette who delivers quite nicely and even Janeane Garofalo makes a cameo which I think is kinda like a subversive thumbs up.

Ultimately what we end up looking at is a very realistic scenario where science and religion are intermeshed and the strings are being pulled by our IN-CON-CIEVE-ABLE scientist, the aforementioned Wallace Shawn who of course wants to bring to pass the prophecies of the Book of Revelations.

When you are able to pull back the layers of Divas played by the likes of Mandy Moore and Porn Stars played by Sarah Michelle Gellar; and provided you can get past the lazy monologues of Justin Timberlake who does nothing besides sit beside a gun off the coast of Malibu spouting lines from the Book of Revelations and lip sink to “The Killers “; what you are left with at the core is frighteningly close to our current American Climate.  Complete with Fashion Shows for Politics and Terrorist Cells made up of our neighbors.

Intentionally written and captiolizing on post 9/11 sentiments, what Southland Tales Achieves is a sort of subliminal education in “The World As It Is.”