Review: Southland Tales


I loved this movie, and chances are, you’ll hate it. It’s a science fiction movie staring The Rock, Stiffler, Buffy and Justin Timberlake. You won’t hate it for the reason you think you’ll hate it.

Richard Kelly’s second film, the first being Donnie Darko, was awesome in its own way. It didn’t make much sense and makes no apologies for that. This ensemble piece goes from political commentary to dark comedy to film noir to sci-fi and back again, without waiting to see if you’ve caught up. It’s probably better if you accept now that this director is smarter than you, and doesn’t care if you like his movie or even understand it. It’s Magnolia, with extreme violence and political drama.

Set in 2008, after a nuclear attack in Texas, we see America as a facist quasi-police state, where the government controls the Internet and all law enforcement agencies were folded into the ranks of the NSA under an even more oppressive version of the Patriot act, and the strongest resistance lives in a Southern California beach town. We never find out who bombed us, but we’re occupying a lot of sandy countries, so they no longer sell us oil. A mad scientist has created cheap, plentiful, clean energy but with cosmic consequences. A not so distant future, and a not so stretched situation painting republicans as evil fear-mongers might be off-putting to some… not me though, so I’ll continue. In the first few minutes, we get a brief history of an alternate earth from 2005-2008, which is presumably a recap of the graphic novels concurrently released with the movie. Since the books are chapters 1, 2 and 3, the movie is divided into 4, 5 and 6, which is very familiar. It goes on with political commentary and satire that are about as subtle as that Neil Young album, kills a few characters we hadn’t yet grown attached to and then finishes with an ending even more confusing and convoluted than the end of Donnie Darko. This is all set to a soundtrack by Moby, which is about the first project of his I’ve ever liked. The music went great with the film and Sarah Michelle Gellar has her own song about Teenage Horniness, which I was shocked and delighted to find out was actually sung by her.

Justin Timberlake narrates with heavy, pretentious lines and bible scripture, as he watches the world from behind a machinegun turret off the shore of a beach town. His acting wasn’t just good considering; it was actually good. This has to be The Rock’s best performance yet, which is ironic, because he no longer bills himself as The Rock. Do you smell what The Rock is cookin’? A legitimate acting career as Dwayne Johnson, I’d say. He has amnesia after a mysterious event left him stranded in the desert and spends the rest of the movie playing two characters trapped in one muscular, swarthy body. Buff… er… Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a porn star trying to launch herself into a brand, a la Martha Stewart or Oprah, and provides a lot of comic relief while not exaggerating in her satire. Stiffl… er… Sean W. Scott has a dual role, playing a cop for the fascist state who is tied to a chair, and a person who is suppose to be impersonating that cop for the bidding of the left-wing resistance group. Wallace Sean and Curtis Armstrong do what they do in everything they’re in: they make you say “Hey, it’s that guy!”

Go see this movie, if only to spend over two hours saying “Hey, it’s that guy from that thing!” or “Oh, rad, Saturday Night Live chick!” There were so many cameos, I was shocked Chris Walken didn’t show up mid-film during the big musical number. Yeah, musical number. With so many characters, no one has much time to develop dimension, but I think the screening I saw was 20 minutes shorter than the directors cut, so I’ll be looking forward to the DVD. Still, it’s forgivable, because the movie isn’t about the people, but the situation the people are in.

It would be easy to hate this movie, and even I’ll admit, it comes off as a little sloppy, pretentious and self-indulgent, but honestly, how can you have a rocket propelled grenade launched from the top of a levitating ice cream truck make any sense in a movie that isn’t all those things?

Go see it anyway!

Web 2.0 Gets Out of Hand


This is a site that will make you a stereotypical web 2.0 logo with aqua effects, reflections and even a beta badge.  It was created as a joke to make fun of the pervasive shiny logos of misspelled words.

Some people clearly don’t get the joke…

Word of the Day: Tonsillolith


I had no idea what they were, but I noticed one coming up every month or so.

It’s a small white chunk of… something. It’s pale, and vaguely resembles the texture of grape nuts cereal. Most of the ones I’ve found are the size of a large grain of salt, but the larger ones have been large grains of rice. I cough, and feel it in my mouth, so I spit it out. In the past, I’ve grabbed it on my finger to examine it, and found it to be very, very pungent, stinking up everything it touches. I made the dire mistake of squishing it with my finger, to see how solid it was, and I could smell it from a foot away. Once I accidentally chewed it, and it tasted like I’d woken up after drinking for two days straight without brushing my teeth.
I asked my friends on the TiVo Community Forum, and a couple of them knew immediately what they were.