Southland Tales review 41 of 52.


This week went so fast… too fast almost.

Minus the daily trip to the store to grab lunch, and avoid being a total shut in, I don’t think I left the house. Since my last review I just sat here writing at my compute.

I’m in the process of adapting five of my feature screenplays into one novel and using the nanowrimo event as my motivation/excuse.

Nanowrimo challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I got a late start but because I haven’t had any work lately I've been able to catch up pretty quickly. I’ve been at it for 19 days now and am at 54,649 words. Again between the not having to work and the fact that this is an adaptation I’ve been able to get a lot done every day. It’s probably going to end closer to a 130,000 word count.

I share this here because the whole reason I started this blog was to get out of my comfort zone and start writing more than just screenplay. So I’m pretty proud to share that I’m branching out.

I also share this here as an excuse to why this week’s review may seem ill prepared, then again it’s also week 41 and about half of these review have been ill prepared.

You try to do this, it’s not that easy.

I can’t complain though. I’m still having fun doing this experiment no matter how convoluted the connections between the review and the actual movie may end up being.

This week I broke down and bought a physical copy of Southland Tales to see what’s going on with the special features.

I would have done this much earlier if there was a commentary track, but when I saw that there was just a featurette and an animated short I figured I’d wait.

Well, the waiting is over.

Today, I watch the featurette!

The first thing I realized is that I haven’t watched a physical DVD in years. I thought I was going to break my computer when snapping the disk into the computer's disk tray, and then the nostalgia of auto play trailers and navigating a title menu set in.

I definitely need to get high for this!


Alright I’m back, having gotten high, watched the featurette and the DVD copy of theatrical release of Southland Tales.

Getting high was the usual good idea. I even fit in a quick nap!

The featurette was fun. It’s entitled USIDent TV: Surveilling the Southland. It’s a half hour behind the scenes / making of mini documentary filled with interviews of the cast and crew during the making of Southland Tales.

I think I would have gotten more out of this documentary had I watched it earlier in the process. I had already read a lot of the information covered in the interviews in other supplemental material while preparing for other reviews, but it's still worth watching if you're a fan of the movie and have or haven’t been studying it for the past 40 weeks.

Most of the time, when it comes to behind the scenes / making of documentaries, I’m more familiar with the documentary than the actual movie being shot, like Lost in La Mancha, American Movie, and The Best Worst Movie. So it was fun to watch a behind the scenes video for a movie that I am more than familiar with. I always knew where they were, what scene they were set up for and knew exactly where the lines being delivered fit into the story. That added a little layer of charm to the featurette that I wasn’t really expecting.

The featurette had an affect on me that I wasn’t expecting, and this is probably because of the drugs. Being that this wasn’t a feature documentary the camera work had a little more of run and gun feel to it. The actual behind the scenes moments seem to catch some of the more mundane moments on set, so I felt like I was there. I kept feeling touches of irrational anxiety that the camera would catch me setting up a piece of equipment wrong or doing something stupid, at least that’s the theory my mind came up with as to why I was feeling anxious.

And then BAM.


They cut to the shot of the Rock sitting in front of the US flag that is so intense I couldn’t follow what he was saying. Well, I could, but I don’t remember so I’m going with the intensity of the image for the distraction. Remember I was high.

He was probably talking about the same thing all of the actors were talking about. I had to laugh because every time this featurette cuts away to an interview with an actor or actress they look lost, confused as to how they got there and why they are being interviewed. They also all seemed to be a bit defensive as to why they chose to take their roll even though they had and most still have no idea what the story is about.

My favorite parts of the featurette are when they follow the art department around and we get a better look at some of the strange set pieces.


And then, my actual favorite part. This happens when they interview one of the women from wardrobe and she points out that Nana Mae’s top is supposed to look like the Evil Queen from Snow White, pointing out that she even has her seven little people.


Finally! I know the reason behind the USIDent midgets.

The featurette ended with a trippy little visual recap that also justified my drug use at such an early hour.

Then at 2:45 in the pm on Tuesday November 26th I fired up the DVD version of Southland Tales for my 41rst viewing, and for the first time in a while did not multitask. I just relaxed and watched the movie.

Today was a good day.

See you next week.  

Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.