I get the feeling that the tale of the making, unmaking and remaking of Southland Tales will be far, far more interesting than the actual movie itself. That tale has a new chapter today, as Richard Kelly has announced that Sony has opened up their wallets to give him some FX he’s been clamoring for. On his MySpace blog he says, "we have finally gotten the greenlight from Sony for the additional round of visual effects for Southland Tales. This is VERY GOOD NEWS for the film! We will now be able to finish the film properly. Phew! The film will be completely finished for the first public screening sometime mid-summer."
Here’s a recap for those of you have already forgotten what the heck this movie is: Southland Tales is Kelly’s long-awaited follow-up to Donnie Darko, a near-future (ie, 2008) edge of apocalypse story set in Los Angeles, starring The Rock, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore and Kevin Smith. And it’s also a musical. And Gellar’s a porn star. And it’s sci-fi.
Anyway, the movie played at Cannes in 2006 and it got fucking creamed. Just savaged by critics. The movie looked dead in the water, but Sony for some reason swooped in and bought it. After that things became more speculative. The studio didn’t want to release the Cannes cut and Kelly went back into the editing room, where he’s been for the last year. In the meantime lots of rumors came and went, the most believable of which was that Sony was going to dump this one on video.
Sony spending some dough on FX makes that less likely. I do hope that when the DVD is out the Cannes cut is included – I am endlessly fascinated by filmmaker hubris, and Kelly is by no means the first director to get Icarus syndrome early in his career. I would compare him to Michael Cimino, but that would imply that Donnie Darko was even half as good as Deer Hunter. Or Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. The misguided, missing the point of his own movie director’s cut of Donnie Darko really argues to me that Richard Kelly’s success was more of a fluke than anything else. That said, nothing would make me happier than having the final release of Southland Tales surprise the shit out of me.