I sat down to watch the Southland Tales clip with it's director R. Kelly in tow. But it just wasn't happening. The DVD player wouldn't read the Southland Tales disc and the crowd was getting quite upset and unruly. The thing would start, and then stop, and the jerks in attendance would mock applaud as if to say, "Way to go, Douche bags." It was kind of funny and reflective of the way things have been going for this film. First, Richard was taken off a plane and accused of being a Terrorist while trying to get to the film's premier in Cannes. Then many critics ripped into the film seen there, calling it a bloated disaster and a vanity project that would kill your spine.
I wanted to see the clip. I'm a fan of Donnie Darko, and I'm anticipating this film even if the critics haven't been too kind. But it just wasn't happening. I guess we weren't going to get a look Kelly's latest cult craptasterpiece. I thought maybe he was doing this on purpose because he didn't want to show it to a room full of Darko geeks and get the boo. Its a well known fact that he took the movie back from Cannes, where it was acquired by Sony, and chopped the living sh*t out of it. But would it be any better? Any different? I wouldn't be able to tell. And you can make any given clip look like it belongs to a good film, so what gives? Maybe it just plain sucks.
After about twenty minutes, Kelly arrived on stage, "I apologize for the delay. I'm sorry you had to wait so long."
Then he introduced his producing partner, Sean McKitrick, who never spoke a word. It was sort of surreal, the feeling in the room. Especially when Kelly introduced the rest of the speaking panel as a Improve group known as The MECHANICALS. I wasn't sure this was for real, as he stood there and told us how they were a huge part of the film. Each member had been given an important role to play.
Richard went on to describe the film as, "An unconventional Epic shot on a low, Independent budget." He then went on to explain how the film is taking a while to get made. And how he gets depressed. And when he gets depressed, he turns to the comedy of the Mechanicals. See, that's kind of weird. I still think it was a joke on us. The whole discussion seemed off. And of another world.
Richard went through the history of the Mechanicals, how they'd all met as Groundlings. Then one of them started imitating Will Ferrell. But it didn't seem like a conscience mocking. It almost seemed like the guy didn't know he was doing it. Richard had first seen this group preform in Vegas and found them fearless. They came with a great Social commentary and a practical sense of humor. They would cheer Kelly up when ever he seemed low, and soon he was offering all of them different roles in Southland Tales.
Kelly continued to describe the film as best he could, "I have taken actors, or rather personalities, that are Pop Culture in and of itself, and then I put them into what I consider a piece of Pop Art. The film is based on the T.S. Elliot poem. The World doesn't end with a bang. It ends with a Whisper. I turned that into a comedy. I believe I have created a film that has the potential to pinch a nerve."
There are three graphic novels that lead into the story told within Southland Tales the Movie. But Kelly is a procrastinator. He has slowly been getting the script pages to the editor of the comic. It has been a decidedly slow process. There are 6 chapters to the Tale as a whole. The first three chapters are told in these novels. The rest are what make up the film. Kelly described it as a new experience for film goers. A type of mixed media. He claims that it has added many layers to the story at hand.
He then finally shows the clip. It is of Justin Timberlake singing The Killers "I've got Soul, but I'm not a Soldier" while he chugs beer and dances with 1940s pin-up girls in an arcade. It is interesting, to say the least. But I thought maybe he was showing the wrong clip. I couldn't figure out why he was showing a music video. Or what appeared to be a music video.
After the clip was over, Richard offered the fact that what we had just seen was indeed inspired by the likes of Kurt Vonegut, Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spelain. That Southland Tales was a hybrid of genres. That it wouldn't fit into any one catagory. He called it Sci-fi, comedy, and a social satire. "We're hoping to use comedy to engage an interest in people. In what this country is going through right now." He then went on to answer some questions...
Is Trent Reznor still doing the soundtrack?
Richard Kelly: No, that was a rumor. Moby is actually doing the soundtrack for the film. And it's an amazing score.
When are the next two graphic novels coming out?
Richard Kelly: They should be coming out in the next 4 weeks. We're having a little bit of trouble with getting the story just right.
What about a Donnie Darko grachic novel?
Richard Kelly: I have moved on with my life. And I want to make more movies. Maybe one day I'll go back to that story. But for now I have to move on.
What is the release date?
Richard Kelly: Sony is still trying to decide on that. But we will know soon.
What inspires you?
Richard Kelly: Did someone say drugs? i think I'm mentally ill. A psychopath. It all comes from my fears and anxiety. I just need to express myself. I put my thoughts into a word processor and then my friends help me out.
You do know that when you're on your death bed some kid will be asking you to sign his Frank figure?
Richard Kelly: Hey, I'll sign it. If I can get someone to lift my hand. But I hope that's a long way off. Unless you're planing on killing me?
I left all my guns at the house.
Richard Kelly: Good.
Can you tell me about the different version that was shown at Cannes?
Richard Kelly: What we showed at Cannes was a work in progress. We ran out of time and money. And we are working to get it right at this moment in time. I think the graphic novels will help the audience understand the story better. And we're excited about showing it to you guys.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Richard Kelly: Kubric. He's the greatest filmmaker that has ever lived. And he influenced everyone who has come after him. His commitment and attention to detail are what I strive to be about. I hope to continue to crank out movies that I want to make. I should be starting production on a movie as soon as I can. Then I will get ten more in the can.
Do you plan on working with Kevin Smith anymore?
Richard Kelly: Kevin is in Southland Tales. He plays the Veteran of the first Iraq war, and you won't recognize him. I made him shave his beard and lose some weight. I showed it to a couple of people and they thought he was John Voight. I think he's a brilliant actor, if he wants it. I think he will continue to do great acting work. And he put all of his money into making the Southland Graphic Novels.
Kelly continued on with a few more fan questions before playing us out of the room with the clip that he had already played. All in all, I have to say I'm intrigued. Kelly has called the film an Algebreic Equation. And that's exactly what it's looking like.
Folks, we're going to have to do our homework to really enjoy this one.
Slave # 7, out...
Please Movieweb, don't beat me...