If you've been tracking the progress of Richard Kelly's long-in-development Southland Tales, you've probably heard about a certain screening it had at the Cannes Film Festival. There were walkouts throughout its near-three-hour running time and a few movie critics ripped the movie (and Kelly's talents) to shreds in their reviews.
Well, as its theatrical release date looms and last week's debut of its trailer, I'm already getting ticked with how writers are writing about this movie. Why? They make walkouts and harsh reviews seem rare for a movie. Folks, this stuff happens all the time with all kinds of movies. I'm just puzzled why people are using this as a copy point. Maybe it's in hopes this builds up a underdog motif for Kelly. At this point, buzz is building by the day and I think it's working in favor of the film.
In the case of Southland Tales' screening at Cannes, Kelly has said that it wasn't the kind of film for the Cannes audience. It probably would've played better at a comic book convention and I agree. But I think it's worth noting about a certain film that got an overwhelmingly positive response from an advance screening at a comic book convention: Mallrats.
Yes, it seems ages ago when Mallrats came out theatrically and was a box office dud, leaving execs to wonder if that was the best way to roll out the film. But that was 1995 and a lot of things are much different today with releasing movies like these. So maybe it was good for Southland Tales to screen at Cannes. You can only go up from there, right?
Well, I think this will do OK in a theatrical run, but it will really find its audience on DVD. And that's not meant to be a slam against it.
From the reviews I've read online, this film sounds quite polarizing with people that were really looking forward to it. This is definitely not a mass appeal movie even though there are some big stars in it. The movie contains a lot of information in its now two hour and twenty-four minute cut. Chances are good you're not going to understand it in one sitting. So, the eventual DVD release will be a great way of processing the information. Besides, this is how I still go about with Kelly's first film, Donnie Darko. I still have questions about that movie, but I gain more insight with repeat viewings. This said, I've always enjoyed that film as a whole. I hope this is also the case with Southland Tales.
I'm not trying to psyche myself out or go in with low hopes here. This is the kind of movie I'd like to see on a big screen -- and as longtime readers know, seeing something in its theatrical run is a rarity for me. It seems like the kind of picture worth seeing on the big screen and again on DVD. And no amount of good or bad reviews -- and same copy points -- are really going to stop that.