SOUTHLAND TALES (2006)—Between a Rock and a Superposition State.


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On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists present Richard Kelly’s sleeper cult epic, 'Southland Tales' (2006). In 2006, the writer and director of 'Donnie Darko' (2001), Richard Kelly, released a very special film into a world that was simply not yet ready for it. Sprawling in scope but jam packed with content, “Southland” is an anti-linear mosaic of fervent energy, ineffable tones and bursts of mid range colors, all presenting the pieces of an encroaching apocalyptic puzzle whose full picture will likely never be fully completed. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to try and assemble it anyway. Requiring a prerequisite reading list of a multi-volume set of prequels, a handful of Modernist poetry, and The Book of Revelations—plus a viewing mandate of both the film’s original and theatrical cuts alongside Kelly’s own supplemental commentaries—this film might be our cruelest one yet. (And that’s pretty great).

Deep Dives include: The Cannes Cut vs. the theatrical release; breaking down “the doomsday interface”; the huge cast of characters’ prequel backstories; the bleaker critical readings of Robert Frost’s poetry; the inverted apocalyptic end of T.S. Eliot’s the Hollow Men; The Power screenplay(s); if the New York Times really said that god was dead; the dual endings provided by Southland’s use of 'Kiss Me Deadly' (1955); and how what Southland ultimately borrows from the book of Revelations, more than anything else, is actually its narrative structure.

Episode Safeword(s): “Linear Plot Structure

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