There is no other movie quite like Southland Tales. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that it is one of the most unique and perplexing pieces of cinema that has ever hit the local cineplex. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma, sold as high art disguise as Drive-In B-Movie sci-fi madness. It has gained a strong and loyal cult following since it was released in 2006. Now, Arrow is celebrating the legacy behind the movie with a new 2K restoration that will hit retailers and streaming outlets on January 26. We recently caught up with director Richard Kelly to talk about the movie’s long and storied history.
Though Southland Tales took a nose dive at the box office, and has been faced with much criticism over the years, Richard Kelly stands by his masterwork. The movie ushered in an era of ancillary media, with graphic novels completing the story that is still, to this day, unfolding. Kelly breaks down the path of completing his epic, which he plans to continue with a possible sequel or other forms of storytelling. The director takes us through a breakdown of the past, present and future for this interesting franchise.
Southland Tales was a follow-up to Richard Kelly’s undeniable classic Donnie Darko. But it didn’t face the same kind of praise that was lavished upon his directorial debut. The movie premiered at Cannes unfinished. And it wasn’t met with the response expected. In fact, it had one of the most notorious Cannes debuts in the history of the film festival. Arrow’s new release offers fans of the movie a chance to see the cut that was shown at that time.
Kelly takes us through that wild experience, while also discussing the much derided sequel to Donnie Darko called S. Darko, which he still has never seen. In his discussion with Paulington James Christensen III, the subject of a true Donnie Darko sequel does come up. But you’ll have to watch the video to see Richard Kelly’s reaction to the idea of Donnie Darko 3
In 2001, writer/director Richard Kelly achieved cult status with Donnie Darko, an assured debut feature exploring deep existential questions through the lens of 80s nostalgia. Five years later, he followed up with a more ambitious and even more beguiling sophomore effort, in which forces of totalitarianism and anarchism collide against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic, near-future world – the beguiling and baffling Southland Tales.
Los Angeles, 2008. As the city stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental chaos, the fates of an eclectic set of characters – including an amnesia-stricken action star (Dwayne Johnson, the Fast & Furious series), an adult film star developing her own reality TV project (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Cruel Intentions) and a police officer whose identity has split in two (Seann William Scott, TV’s Lethal Weapon) – intertwine with each other and with the whole of humanity. A darkly comic futuristic epic that speaks as presciently to our turbulent times as it did to the American socio-political climate in 2006, Southland Tales receives a fresh – and timely – lease of life with this new, director-approved restoration.
The new 2K restoration by Arrow Films was approved by director Richard Kelly and director of photography Steven Poster. The High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) contains presentations of both versions of the film: the 145-minute theatrical cut and the 160-minute “Cannes cut”, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. Richard Kelly provides audio commentary on the theatrical cut. and there are several featurettes that go deep into the making of this cult classic. Fans can pick up the release this January.