Southland Tales

Never mind the lore of Donnie Darko writer-director Richard Kelly’s follow-up feature getting booed out of Cannes, or whether war-veteran Justin Timberlake is less or more plausible than porn-star Sarah Michelle Gellar. Don’t worry over the wisdom of mounting a post-modern pop epic on the square shoulders Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and the knifelike jaw of Seann William Scott. Let the Kelly cultists decide if Southland Tales is the tacky-weirdo masterpiece they’d hoped for, or even if it’ll hold up as a time-capsule of early ’00s L.A. kitsch. Know, though, that the plot is pre-apocalyptic, and the dialogue tends toward dumb, sun-baked, weed-addled, sex-minded and stiffly expository. For someone who often makes things so obvious, Kelly sure seems coherency-challenged. Showing signs of minimal but enthusiastic exposure to Karl Marx, the Bible, ’80s movies, a few lines of Robert Frost, and lots of probably degrading porn, he’s himself like a character Wes Anderson might make a movie about, and that would wear out its welcome, too. Even with well-placed Saturday Night Live has-beens and a sort of late-period Orson Welles impression from Kevin Smith, there’s not a single sincere performance here. All of that said, Wired magazine might’ve been right to suggest a new Oscar for Best WTF?!