DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Richard Kelly
Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott
Writing Credits:
Richard Kelly

An action star stricken with amnesia meets up with a porn star who is developing her own reality TV project and a policeman who holds the key to a vast conspiracy.

Rated R/NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 145 min. (Theatrical)
159 min. (Cannes)
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 1/26/2021

• Both Theatrical and Cannes Versions of Film
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Richard Kelly
• “It’s a Madcap World” Documentary
• “USIDent TV” Featurette
• “This Is the Way the World Ends” Animated Short
• Image Gallery
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Southland Tales: Limited Edition [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 29, 2020)

Back in 2001, Donnie Darko made virtually no impact at the box office. However, during those golden years of DVDs, it found an audience on home video and turned into a major cult hit.

Writer/director Richard Kelly took five years to fashion his follow-up, 2006’s Southland Tales. Despite Darko’s success, Tales made even less money in theaters, and I don’t sense that it inspired anything close to the cult notoriety of its predecessor.

That said, someone must like Tales or else this new deluxe Blu-ray set wouldn’t sit in my player.

After a nuclear attack in Texas circa 2005, World War III ignites. This leads to a virtual police state in the United States, though democracy remains alive enough to set up a tight Democratic/Republican race in 2008.

California becomes the swing state, but Los Angeles finds itself in a chaotic situation, partly due to the rise of neo-Marxist groups. In this situation, action film star Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) disappears but mysteriously gets found in the desert, albeit with no memories.

This becomes more significant because Boxer is married to Madeline Frost (Mandy Moore), the daughter of Vice-Presidential candidate Bobby Frost (Holmes Osbourne). As Boxer works through his issues, he becomes entwined with porn actor/aspiring reality TV star Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and mysterious twins Roland and Ronald Taverner (Seann William Scott and Seann William Scott), as their fates connect to the bigger picture.

As I write this in late 2020, we’ve not seen hide nor hair of Kelly at movie theaters since 2009’s The Box. Like Tales, The Box flopped at the box office, and it deserved to fail, as Kelly churned out an incoherent mess of pretentious claptrap.

Tales received poor reviews and a bad reaction from the audience members who saw it. Those factors made me fear that Tales wouldn’t work any better than the awful Box, but hope sprung.

Alas, these dreams failed to come to fruition. Whatever cinematic promise Kelly revealed in the compelling, intriguing Darko went bye-bye quickly via the messy, absurd Tales.

In theory, I don’t mind the muddy narrative and lack of great character clarity. After all, Darko didn’t offer the most concise tale, but Kelly overcame its issues with the intriguing and compelling world he created.

This doesn’t occur with the scattered Tales, though Kelly tries to make the movie into another absorbing universe. That may become the biggest issue with the film: the sense of semi-desperation that Kelly gives off, as he seems overly eager to create A Big Important Statement Film.

He doesn’t, though again, Kelly works overtime to achieve his grand goals. Clearly Kelly wants to make Tales into a commentary on the then-modern society of 2005, and he picks on easy targets along the way.

Darko came with social elements and satire as well, but Tales lays these elements on thick, and they come across as witless and dull. It seems less than clever to pick on the excesses of politicians, reality TV and pop stars, but Kelly feels the need to go after these.

Of course, Kelly wasn’t the only filmmaker to focus on the creeping fascism of the era – “Patriot Act” and all – but he can’t find an insightful way to touch on that topic and other topical matters. Kelly’s approach seems witless and clumsy.

The same goes for the movie as a whole. Tales relies heavily on stiff voiceover from Justin Timberlake as Iraqi War veteran Pilot Abilene, a role that exists for little reason other than to give us the narration.

While Timberlake’s comments do allow the film to come together better than otherwise would become the case, that doesn’t make Tales even vaguely coherent. At his heart, Kelly wants to go Altman on us and create a sprawling story of connected characters united by a theme, but he can’t get it to work.

Rather than a broad epic of these loosely-linked lives, Tales feels like a bunch of unrealized story snippets tossed into a blender. Try as he might, Kelly can’t join the material together into a workable package, so the movie stutters from one semi-pointless scene to another without much to let the material connect.

All of this becomes an even bigger disappointment because Kelly packs Tales with a fairly amazing cast. In addition to Timberlake, Johnson, Gellar and Scott, we find Wallace Shawn, Cheri Oteri, Miranda Richardson, Amy Poehler, Jon Lovitz, and a slew of other notables.

They occasionally threaten to give the movie some life, primarily when we get Saturday Night Live alums Oteri, Lovitz and Poehler all in the same scene. Their tendencies allow the movie to show the push toward comedy that might let it go somewhere,

However, most of the actors just feel wasted, as they can’t do anything with their underdone parts. They’re left adrift to stumble through this messy melange of nothingness.

Perhaps Tales might work better with additional viewings, as maybe it comes together better with some viewer familiarity involved. However, the movie seems so meandering and dull that I feel little impulse to want to give it a second shot.

With Darko, I wanted to delve into the film’s meaning and culture. With Tales, I just want to find something else to watch.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Southland Tales appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mostly positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Occasional soft shots materialized – mainly during interiors – but the majority of the flick seemed fairly well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Noise reduction failed to become an issue, and I witnessed only a couple of small specks in terms of print flaws.

Despite the sunny Southern California setting, Tales mostly stayed with a subdued palette, one that favored teal and amber. These tones seemed adequate, if not especially vivid.

Blacks looked pretty deep and rich, while low-light shots offered appealing clarity. Ultimately, the image seemed to replicate the source appropriately.

In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed fine for the material. This meant a soundscape that lacked a ton of ambition, but it came to life on occasion.

That meant via the movie’s sporadic “action” scenes. These didn’t occur frequently, but they used the five speakers in an engaging way when necessary and gave the mix punch.

The rest of the track became less involving, though the soundscape managed to create a decent sense of environment. Music also use the channels well.

Audio quality seemed more than satisfactory, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Music showed nice range and impact, as the score and songs brought solid reproduction.

Effects offered accurate elements, without distortion or other concerns, and they showed positive low-end as necessary. The soundtrack worked out for this film.

This two-disc set provides two separate editions of Tales. Disc One houses the Theatrical Version (2:24:54) while Disc Two brings the Cannes Cut (2:38:32).

Apparently Kelly submitted Tales to Cannes before he finished it and figured they’d say no. However, they agreed to run it and showed it in an incomplete state.

This didn’t go well, and Kelly eventually got to finish the movie, a process that led him to trim about 14 minutes and change a few elements. Though these still left Tales as a mess, at least it makes more sense than the really scattered Cannes version.

Disc Two includes the “Cannes Cut” and nothing else, so all the set’s extras appear on Disc One. Alongside the Theatrical Version, we find an audio commentary from writer/director Richard Kelly. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters/themes, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, effects, and other production domains.

While Kelly gets into those aforementioned filmmaking areas, he mainly focuses on a discussion of the narrative and roles, with an emphasis on explanation. He did the same with his Darko commentary, and that choice allowed the Darko track to become an informative set of “footnotes” that added to the viewer’s experience.

No such elucidation occurs here, as Kelly’s additional background for the movie’s story and characters proves less than exciting. Some of that happens because he tends to narrate the film more than dig into nuances, but it also occurs simply because Tales offers a much less intriguing experience than Darko.

With the latter, I felt eager to know more. With Tales, I didn’t like the movie enough to care about these backstory issues.

I will say that Kelly explains the elements reasonably well for the movie’s first half, but after that, he becomes less interesting, as he tends to do little more than describe the action. Kelly offers enough info to make this a worthwhile listen, but the commentary seems less engaging than I’d expect.

A new three-part documentary called It’s a Madcap World fills a total of 50 minutes, 54 seconds. We get notes from Kelly, production designer Alec Hammond, producer Matthew Rhodes, and director of photography Steven Poster.

“World” examines the project’s roots and development, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, visual effects, editing, and the movie’s release/reception/legacy.

On the negative side, it seems like a shame that none of the huge cast appears here. However, despite the limited number of participants, “World” brings a nice view of the project.

Inevitably, some of the material repeats from Kelly’s commentary, but the added voices bring useful notes as well. This becomes a pretty effective program.

From 2006, USIDent TV runs 33 minutes, 48 seconds and provides remarks from Kelly, Hammond, Poster, Rhodes, Kelly’s uncle Larry Robertson, producer Sean McKittrick, stunt coordinator Tanoai Reed, Quantum Creation FX’s Justin Raleigh, costume designer April Ferry, electrician Dan Jones, and actors Will Sasso, Dwayne Johnson, Wood Harris, Todd Berger, Wallace Shawn, Bai Ling, Zelda Rubinstein, Justin Timberlake, Curtis Armstrong, Jon Lovitz, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Christopher Lambert.

“TV” examines story and characters, themes, sets and locations, cast and performances, stunts, effects, costumes,

The interview comments don’t tend to reveal a whole lot, and the program’s format can annoy, as it seems stylized for no logical reason. However, we get enough interesting footage from the set to make this a worthwhile show.

Another archival piece, This Is the Way the World Ends spans nine minutes, 12 seconds and gives us an animated short set in the film’s universe. It proves highly preachy and adds nothing to the Tales experience.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It offers 151 stills that mix shots from the film and promotional pics. It becomes a decent compilation.

After the promise of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly failed to create a fulfilling follow-up with Southland Tales. Rambling and dull, the movie flails despite an overqualified cast. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio along with a nice array of bonus materials. Tales flops.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main