Southland Tales (2006, USA/FRA/GER) C-145m. SCOPE *** D: Richard Kelly. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Janeane Garofalo, Beth Grant, Christophe rLambert, John Larroquette, Bai Ling, Jon Lovitz, Mandy Moore, Miranda Richardson, Wallace Shawn, Justin Timberlake, Zelda Rubinstein, Curtis Armstrong. Writer-director Kelly's follow-up to his cult hit DONNIE DARKO (2001) has a similar science-fiction scenario. In (the near future of) 2008, our society is on the brink of upheaval. Presidential election campaigns are overshadowed by a quasi-terrorist movement, and two main characters' lives are examined in this setting: Johnson, a movie star with political ties, suddenly suffers from amnesia, and private Scott, who seems to have a twin brother, is a pawn in a clandestine operation. And there is Liquid Karma, a new invention that works like a perpetuum mobile, and an intriguing rift in the time-space continuum. Difficult to follow at times, with a Bible-quoting stream-of-consciousness narrative, but fascinating, even hypnotic all the way, referencing enough cult movies to satisfy buffs. This can best be compared to the works of David Lynch. Good score by Moby. Film's release was accompanied by the publication of three graphic novels (by Kelly), which stand as prequels to the story told here. Originally premiered in Cannes at 160m.

© Ron Altman