Southland Tales review 49 of 52.

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WOW!?!?

Not since my first viewing of Southland Tales have I ever been as confused by what I had just watched. Keep in mind the first time I watched Southland Tales I was so high I thought everyone was playing multiple characters. For this movie I was just a little drunk and even after sleeping on it I’m still not sure what I watched.

It all started when I was looking for a Southland Tales blog that I found when I was away from my home computer that I didn’t get a chance to bookmark. I would share which blog this is but I can’t find it. I can’t even remember if it was Southland Tales Specific or a Richard Kelly fan page, so I give up.

In the process of this search one blog caught my eye comparing Southland Tales to Pinocchio. I was intrigued so I made a mental note to watch the two movies and see for myself. I’ve yet to read the blog because I want to avoid any spoilers but I'll read it and make comments after I’m done climbing out of the bizarre rabbit hole I’ve now gotten myself into.

I started to search for a copy of Pinocchio when I found this…

Not wanting to rip the guy off who came up with the Pinocchio theory I figured I’d credit him for giving me the idea and then watch this adaptation of Pinocchio instead.

I just spent the day hanging out with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in a while and was a little buzzed, but by no means was I too drunk to be able to follow a story, so at 11:00 in the pm on Sunday January 19th I fired up 964 √PINOCCHIO.

I was expecting it to be weird only weird would be an understatement. It started with soft core porn and brain surgery and that's not the weird part. Between trying to read the subtitles, trying to watch the movie, and while playing my version of Where’s Waldo, hunting for elements of the movie that remind me of Southland Tales, I may have missed a few things due to all this sensory overload. Luckily there wasn’t much dialog.

I know for a fact that the brain surgery was to remove 964 √PINOCCHIO’s memory. Here’s where I’m a little confused. I think 964 √PINOCCHIO was a failed gigolo for some crazy ring of sex workers. There was some lady who was on the hunt for someone with a constant erection and 964 √PINOCCHIO failed and was sent out into the world without a memory.

For those of you who have seen Southland Tales you may already see what I see here. A man without a memory is sent out into the world where porn and pop culture co-exist, while others are on a quest for a power source that runs off of perpetual motion.

I also thought I had the story figured out and how it was going to relate to Pinocchio.  I figured as 964 √PINOCCHIO learns to get his memory back it’ll be like he’s becoming human again making him a real boy, a real boy with a boner that’ll play into the climax of the film (I’m not sure whether or not the pun was intended here.)

Nope as you’ll discover; I was WAY off.

Again there wasn’t much dialog in this film so I was mainly looking at imagery to try and piece together any connections between the two movies. The first person that we meet outside of this sex ring is a women dressed in camouflage searching for something through a pair of binoculars. The image reminded me of Justin Timberlake surveying the land atop his watch tower.

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She spots 964 √PINOCCHIO and then takes him in as if to be his protector. She also seemed to have an ulterior motive. Again I was guessing this was going to be similar to Sarah Michelle Gellar taking in the Rock, caring for him while at the same time using him. That theory was solidified when the man who created 964 √PINOCCHIO urgently demanded a manhunt to track down his missing experiment.

WRONG.

She takes him in and that when the wheels fall off this crazy train. I wish I was high for this part, but for some reason the girl wake to 964 √PINOCCHIO violently vomiting while blood sprays from his nose and then he begins to sweat nacho cheese, or he’s melting, I don’t know what it was but there were all kinds of fluids coming out of everything on this poor man.

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The girl then starts vomiting this chunky yellow cottage cheese looking stuff that apparently turned her evil. Though they would check in from time to time with the sex ring people, that storyline becomes less important as we now follow this weird battle between 964 √PINOCCHIO and this now evil woman.

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From that point on I was too caught up in trying to piece together the story, how it relates to Southland Tales and better yet how the fuck it related to Pinocchio, to be able to understand any of it. Luckily it ends with an explosion that brought me back to my initial goal of comparing 964 √PINOCCHIO to Southland Tales . They both end with bang!

I was thoroughly entertain by how lost I felt but had to find my comfort zone, so at 1:00 in the am on Monday January 20th I fired up Southland Tales for the 49th time.

Who’d of thought anyone would ever say that they had to turn to Southland Tales to make sense of this world?

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I watched the Cannes Cut and it worked at putting me at ease. By the time the ice cream truck lifted off the ground leading to the explosion of the Mega Zeppelin I was ready for bed.

This morning I woke up and am still interested in the Pinocchio connection to Southland Tales and even more interested in Pinocchio’s connection to 964 √PINOCCHIO?

Rather than wait until next week when I would completely forget all the details of 964 √PINOCCHIO it’s now 11:45 in the am on Monday January 20th and I’m about to fire up Disney’s version of Pinocchio just to see what happens.

BRB.

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And I’m back.

I haven’t seen that movie in damn near 30 years. Based on the title of this guy’s blog I was hoping that Southland Tales would be almost a beat by beat remake of Pinocchio, but like almost every movie I’ve done this with, the connections are mainly drawn from genre conventions, character prototypes and themes that have been used in story since the beginning of time.

First I’m going to attempt to predict the main argument for the connections and then list some bullet points of my observations.

I’m guessing that the big argument for there being a connection between the two movies is that they are both about the destructive power of lies. Of course everyone knows that Pinocchio is all about the damage done to this little puppet as he learns that lying is bad. In Southland Tales everyone other than the Rock is lying to someone and all of these lies are eventually what leads to the end of the world.

Unlike Pinocchio who gives into sin against the advice of his conscious, the Rock is trusting and follows the advice of whoever he comes in contact with, holding off on moral judgments until given a reason to not trust. Sure he cheats on his wife with a porn star but that is only because he is unaware that he is married, and he is loyal to said porn star. If you think that him drinking beer is immoral then 1) your gauge on what is and what isn’t moral is way off and 2) he pours more beer on his shirt than into his mouth. When Pinocchio gives into vices these vices are set up to be things that he should avoid and take place in shady areas where it just seem wrong.

Those are the main connections that I found. Now time for some bullet points. Keep in mind these are thoughts that came to mind as I was watching the movie without a filter of putting the entire movie into prospective.

  • The way the closing credits being old school and actually happening at the beginning of the movie it felt like there was some time travel stuff going on.
  • The actual puppet for of Pinocchio reminds me of the Rock’s lifeless body in the Mega Zeppelin.
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  • Sarah Michelle Gellar has to be Jiminy Cricket does that mean Will Sasso is Geppetto?
  • With all the clocks I can’t help but think of time travel.
  • Geppetto’s cat is pretty feisty it must be Cheri Oteri.
  • Is the Baron’s mother supposed to be the fairy that brings Pinocchio to life? She does help invent the technology to make all the Fluid Karma hence creating this new future the Rock.
  • The Rock and Pinocchio both have the same youthful zest towards life.
  • And here is the song and dance.
  • Okay I think this fox guy is Will Sasso
  • I don’t think there is a Geppetto equivalent in Southland Tales; no one seems to care about the Rock without using him for something.
  • No strings = wireless energy.
  • Right off the bat they turn Pinocchio into an actor, or as Zelda would say, “A movie star.”
  • Favorite line, “What does an actor want with a conscious anyway?” – Jiminy Cricket
  • The cat the hangs out with the fox = Jimmy Hermosa?
  • The guy that runs the puppet show = the Baron exploiting the wireless technology.
  • Pleasure Island = the beach where the Rock dumps beer all over his shirt, or the entire Southland Tales world?
  • The house that the kids are destroying in Pleasure Island reminds me of the Neo-Marxist compound.
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  • Once the Rock is reunited with Mandy Moore it almost feels like we are in a bit of a different world kind of like Pinocchio and Jiminy finding themselves in the new world under the see on their journey to the Mega Zeppelin, I mean giant whale.

So that’s that as far as the connections between Pinocchio and Southland Tales as far as the connections between Pinocchio and  964 √PINOCCHIO I think that entire movie must be inspired by Pinocchio’s transformation into a donkey but I am really reaching to come to that conclusion.

One last step and I am out of this rabbit hole. It’s now time to read the blog that started this whole venture and see if I was close.

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So I started to read the blog. It starts out by describing the backstory of Southland Tales. I decided to just scroll right past that, having read my fill of Southland Tales material covering the fact that there was the cut that I just watched and theories as to why it was a flop. Not to say that it’s a bad part of the review it’s just an introduction that’s required to explain to reader who may not be up to speed.

He then goes on to do a detailed summary and review of the movie. Again I don’t need that; I need to find out about this Pinocchio Theory, so I did a search for Pinocchio. The first instance of the word Pinocchio was way down in the comments.

It turns out Pinocchio Theory is the name of the blog and not a Southland Tales/Pinicchio Theory, this was just a movie review.

That has to be the best way for this week’s review to come to a conclusion.

Well, now I'm out of the rabbit hole with only three weeks left!!!

See you next time.

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.