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Kelly Talks About Southland Tales

Southlandtalesgellar2 Anthony Kaufman wonders if he missed something in Richard Kelly's Cannes misfire Southland Tales. I don't think so. While Kelly throws out many catchy images and ideas, he doesn't organize them so that they make any sense. There are too many characters to follow; when the tough edit occurs, some of them should fall on the cutting room floor.

At the Southland Tales press conference, Kelly articulated what he thought he was doing: "I always throught the film would push buttons," he said. "I'm sure it will continue to. I think the film was meant to be a tapestry of ideas, all related, about some of the biggest issues facing us, whether it's homeland security or our increasing obsession with celebrity and how celebrity intertwines with politics. It's meant to be experienced like a puzzle. I wanted to approach the issues with a sense of comedy and gallows humor. It needs more than one viewing. There is no simple solution to our problem for our country or our planet."

"I wanted to construct a black comedy out of this to try and ask questions about where we are today," Kelly added. David Lynch has always been a "huge influence on my life," he admitted, but the biggest influence on his film was Robert Aldrich's 1955 "Kiss Me Deadly."

When selecting his large ensemble cast, "I wanted to find actors who have been pidgeonholed or put in a box and not allowed to express their undiscovered talents," he said. "They were all actors I was willing to help put in a different place."

When he read the sprawling script, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson said, "I had my own interpretation. I put all my trust in Richard's hands. I had a lot of questions. I knew the movie would unfold as the story was told."

Most movies are as good as their scripts. But many directors, from Gus Van Sant to Wim Wenders, have struggled to find their films' final shape in the editing room. This movie begs for a gifted editor. We will likely see the shape of Southland Tales to come in Toronto.


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