Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales took quite a whomping at the Cannes Film Festival recently, with some people calling it among the worst films ever made, and critics walking out in droves during the film’s TWO HOUR AND FORTY MINUTE runtime. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I do believe this may confirm the suspicion I began to harbor after seeing the remarkably missing-the-point-of-his-own-movie director’s cut of Donnie Darko: this emperor is at best wearing nothing but Speedos.
The catastrophic reaction placed serious doubts about the ability of the film to get a domestic distributor, and now Kelly confirms to the Village Voice that he’s re-editing the film. "I certainly would imagine that when this movie is seen in theaters it’s going to be significantly different," he says. "I think I have no choice in the matter because I want this movie to be seen… But I want to make sure that we can hold on to the complicated structure because it’s very, very thought-out. We spent years designing it, and I think upon first viewing it rushes over you and leaves you in a daze."
Actually, disappointed seems to be the key word, Richard. Some people on the web have assumed that the reaction to Southland Tales is another case “snooty film festival-itis,” which maybe would make sense if Guillermo Del Toro’s genreriffic Pan’s Labyrinth hadn’t been such a huge hit. And if Southland hadn’t been the kind of movie these people usually eat up – complicated and aiming critiques at the modern American security state.
In the end, Kelly sounds like the reaction has really done him in. “I can see how easy it might be to be defeated by the system," he continues, "because maybe I’m being defeated by it right now. But at least I got to make two movies the way I wanted to." And if you want to see this movie the way he wanted to make it, you’ll probably have to wait for DVD.