Southland Tale review 50 of 52

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After the rabbit hole I crawled out of in last week review I wasn’t sure how I could top myself this week. I feel the Pinocchio review shut the door to comparing and contrasting Southland Tales with other movies. I’m over watching or reading other people’s theories on the movie then seeing for myself if these theories are sound. I’ve read books, I’ve listened to books and shared my discoveries. I’ve done it all.

This is my 50th review of Southland Tales. I know how I’m going to wind down the final two reviews of this experiment so I felt this review needed to be special.

Then it came to me.

I’ve used every other medium in this experiment except for one… Music. I haven’t really factored music into these reviews other than pointing out the musical elements of the film itself and the films in comparison.

I started to wonder if there was an album long enough to sync up with Southland Tales ala The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. So I went to the internet and did some a search for 1:44:00 minute albums. The first one that I decided to look into was The Clash’s three part album Sandinista! I went to the Wikipedia to find its run time is 1:44:09.

I like The Clash the times match up so I decided let’s see what happens.

I got my hands on a copy of Sandinista! and merged it with Southland Tales to make it easier to pause both at the same exact time in order to take notes. When the merger was complete I opened the new file to see if it worked. From the first beat of the drum to the fade in of the Samuel Goldwyn logo, a matter of only about :02 seconds I was already won over. I shut it down instantly to not ruin any surprises.

I couldn’t wait to see how this was going to play out, but I waited.

On Sunday January 26th at 7:00 in the pm I sat down excited to watch this crazy combination.

This could not be a sober experiment so I fired up some of my “medication” as well. I made myself comfy on the couch with my notepad ready to note the random event. I didn’t even get through the production company logos without realizing that I needed to be close to my computer so I could pause the movie and take real notes.

So I got all set up to do some real work and restarted the movie ready to explore.

Here’s what I found.

First off the Southland Tales and Sandinista! pair up almost magically. Without going into the specifics I never felt that a song didn’t work as the sound track to the movie. The themes, the tone, the mood, and the beat match up throughout. Some of these moments of synchronicity are worth noting some are not, but it really does work.

I’d never heard of Sandinista! until I did this search. Even the artistic concepts of these two pieces sync up. Sandinista! is an epic experimental blend of genre (everything from rock to reggae to disco) that gets down right strange at time (strange noises that seem random and even a song that play backward.)

If you are into weird things like The Dark Side of Oz then you definitely have to give this a shot.

And now for a list of my detailed observations.

Song 1 The Magnificent Seven vocals Joe Strummer

00:00:00 As I said the song starts with a drum beat as the Samuel Goldwyn logo fades in the two syncs up as more instruments join in just as the animated signature begins to be drawn out.

Granted I’m pretty sure that would happen with any song and any movie just from there being a starting pace that ramps up or ramps down as we ease into the story.

00:00:32 The vocals come in right as the Cherry Road Logo settles.

00:00:43 Joe Strummer singings about a miserable start to a day. The moment the he sings about, “getting out of this awful place,” is at the exact moment that the Abilene graphic starts to appear.

00:00:45 There some fun moments during the home video of the4th of July party that syncs up but up due to the found footage montage style of filming going along well with the music.

00:01:37 It sounds like Joe Strummer says something about war right before the explosion and then it sounds like he yells, “the world went bye bye,” right after the explosion.

00:01:50 He then sings, “wave bye bye,” as the crowd gathers to witness the mushroom cloud.

I wish I knew music well enough to better explain these moments and I wish I could understand the all the accents better, but I don’t so bear with me as I try to make sense of this. 

00:02:10 There’s a little break down just as the Doomsday Scenario Interface graphic appears. At this exact moment Joe Strummer sings “What do we have for entertainment,” then goes on to sing about how horrible the media can make your day feel, interesting timing as this is our introduction of the media delivery system of the Southland Tales world.

00:03:06 Joe Strummer sings “They killed???” something I couldn’t make out but it happens just as we see the image from the graphic novel of Pilot just after the friendly fire incident.

00:03:24 Joe Strummer sings, “What do we got,” as we see the image of two elephants humping as a way to bash the Republicans.

Throughout the entire newscast there are interesting moments because of the montage/quick cuts.

00:05:05 I swear a new ticking noise kicks in when we see the crawling toy soldier.

00:05:20 There’s a twinkling sound as the first song winds down with the cloud halo just above Justin Timberlake’s head. Great Transition.

Song 2 Hitsville U.K vocals Mick Jones and Ellen Foley

00:05:53 Justin Timberlake reveals an evil grin as all the instruments kick in for song two. This second song is much more upbeat but it fits in a fun way

00:07:42 Knowing the movie, this is kind of an ominous scene, but the upbeat music works because USIDent is very well lit. If I hadn’t seen the movie I would assume this was a happy place. There even a cute timing situations with xylophone dings and the lights turning on. Nana Mae looks like she’s lip syncing along at a few points.

00:08:46 I really can’t make out where they’re signing about in this song so I can say if any phrases match up to any of the actions but they do sing, “in your living room” at the exact moment that we cut to the bed room.  Wrong room but the timing made me think it was the living room and I’ve seen this movie 50 times.

00:09:12 They sing something about “boys and girls” just as the Rock cuddles up with Sarah Michelle Gellar

00:09:53 The song winds down in a way that matches the twisting of the map of Santa Monica Bay. Great Transition.

Song 3 Junco Partner vocals Joe Stummer

00:09:57 The song makes a funny noise just as the Fluid Karma logo pops up. This is kind of a reggae song so it fits with these weirdos on the beach (the Baron and his group.)

00:11:23 We transition from the Baron’s Group on the beach to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s group on the beach. There’s still no connection other than the whole reggae beach thing.

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s friend does waves just as Joe Strummer screams, “Hey!”

00:12:31 Joe Strummer sings something about, “This smart girl,” just as Will Sasso explains “Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval.”

00:14:45 This song winds down in the middle of a shot from the state line surveillance camera. Great Transition.

Song 4 Ivan Meet G.I. Joe vocals Topper Headon

00:14:56 This new song starts with a clunk that at first that match up with the roller coaster in the surveillance video. The song transitions into marching sounds as we cut to people walking around USIDent. Lasers even sound that seem to open the sliding doors.

This really works because the disco tone mixed with the lasers fits with how everything in USIDent looks so futuristic. Nana Mae walks around the table looking ready to dance, and even has a bit of a head bob that goes to the music. This is also the scene where Bobby Frost is asking if his futuristic blue tooth and computer glasses make him look weird.

There’s also a weird technic in the recording that if I didn’t know any better I would think was sound from the movie bleeding through. The vocals sound kind of distant to help make this effect sound like it fits.

00:17:56 Great transition. 

Song 5 The Leader vocals Joe Stummer

00:18:12 Joe Strummer sings something about “setting the ball in motion” as we meet the ice cream truck. We’re also are introduced to Cheri Oteri and Christopher Lambert. These two both have ulterior motives that start things that need to happen to trigger the end of the world.

Side note the song starts with him singing something about “you have to give them something to read.” Since I was distracted by writing up the last note I thought it was a book mobile and not an ice cream truck for a brief moment.

00:18:47 He sings “She wrote a letter” just as Cheri Oteri signs the check.

It’s also very interesting because the song is about a girl and a man that almost make it seem like Cheri Oteri and Christopher Lambert are acting this out.

00:19:42 The transition out of the song is just the slightest bit too early, but due to the pause between songs the next song starts at a perfect place.

Song 6 Something About England vocal Mick Jones and Joe Strummer

00:23:14 I think I heard something about a movie star and memories. This is the scene were Sean William Scott meets the Rock just after finding out he has no memories.

The song ends on a laugh just as Will Sasso is chuckling at the Rock’s movie pitch. Great transition.

Song 7 Rebel Waltz vocal Joe Stummer

00:23:15 The almost circus like tone is a good fit as the Rock pitches his movie.

00:26:46 Other than the laugh at the beginning of the song and the tone there’s nothing to write home about here. Mid-scene transition at the end.

Again the tone fits and I have a feeling that’s going to be the feeling throughout because most of these The Clash songs so far share similar themes to Southland Tales.

Song 8 Look Here vocals Joe Strummer

00:26:47 This song has a bit of a swing vibe to it. I can’t help but think about what is actually happening in the movie but this song makes the Rock and Seann William Scott’s car ride very lively.

00:29:29 Other than the above no real significant end with a mid-scene transition not.

Song 9 The Crooked Beat vocals Paul Simonon

00:29:30 Harris Wood’s jaw drops just as the bass guitar kicks in.

This is another case there the transition out of the last song was sloppy but this song starts perfectly as Kenny joins the party.

00:30:39 There is a good syncing moment with the lyrics starting back up just as a newscaster starts to give the news. This is also a part of the movie where they are focused on the politicians as the song is about The Crooked Beats.

00:34:40 It would be more magical if this happened right when we see Amy Poehler and Harris Wood getting their prostatic make-up put on but just after we cut to this scene, Paul Simonon switches his style and starts to sing in a weird new voice in this scene where we are seeing people disguise themselves.

00:35:03 Mid-scene transition.

Song 10 Some Body Got Murdered vocals Mick Jones

00:38:32 This was a fun song for this scene. It’s a bit up beats so it’s juxtaposition to the scene of the cops storming the building to kill Kenny those bastards. It also ends during a cut so that works.

(Note: I’m learning the titles to these songs during this rewrite session making this an even more interesting connection to Kenny’s murder.)

Song 11 One More Time vocals Joe Strummer

00:39:07 Joe Strummer sings “one more time in the Ghetto” as Seann William Scott falls into the trash can in an alley that looks kind of ghetto.

There’s also a point where he sings “one more time to the dying man” just as Seann William Scott starts talking to the Rock at the cafe.

00:40:40 Other than the time code I was hoping something would happen with the introduction of Jimmy Hermosa only nothing happened.

00:42:10 Nothing magical. The transition is off just a little. This least favorite of the songs so far (not song quality wise, but how it fits in with Southland Tales, the song is fine.)

Song 12 One More Dub vocals Instrumental

00:42:11 Iffy transition with a tone that kind of fits with the Rock’s unsure approach to the Baron’s Mother in the library.

00:44:03 Starla says “LAX” at the exact moment Joe Strummer yells “bar break?” or whatever his says, but it looks like she’s saying it.

Oh this is still the one more time in the ghetto song.

(Again discovering the titles as I go, I guess this is a sequel to the song.)

00:45:41 Transition mid Amy Poehler and Harris Wood fight.

Song 13 Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice) vocals Joe Strummer

00:45:50 The song starts with a radio interview. Cheri Oteri and Bing listen in as Amy Poehler and Harris Wood continue to fight. Both Cheri Oteri and Bing are wearing headphones giving it that radio feel.

This leads into music that is perfectly fitting for the two cop cars as they pull up.

00:48:18 Joe Strummer sings “I wish???” something? The timing is perfect for the way Amy Poehler is posturing during the argument.

00:48:44 Joe Strummer yells “holler” just as Amy Poehler gets shot and “Strike one” as she falls dead.

There’s a loud drum beat just as the squib goes off.

He then sings “ten o’clock” almost as if telling Bad Ass John Lovits that’s the angle to turn to now shot Harris Wood.

No other timing coincidences but the Amy Poehler Squib timing is impressing.

00:50:33 Great transition.

Song 14 Up in Heaven (Not Only Here) vocals Mick Jones

00:50:33 Starts with perfect timing as Seann William Scott turns and runs from the Rock. It’s almost the same tempo as “The Wave of Mutilation” song that is actually playing so it’s a perfect fit.  

They’re also singing something about reality. As the effect of time bleeding warp our vision.  

It’s also a “what are you going to do now” type of song as everyone scatters unsure what to do because of this really murder that was supposed to be staged.

00:51:39 As the Rock answers his phone to talk to Starla Mick sings something about “one day it’ll fall to the ground” and if you’ve seen the movie you know why that’s relevant.

00:52:40 The tone of the song changes just as we get to the commercial with the two cars fucking. It’s kind of creepy not just the creep video, but the way there’s a little guitar riff right as the one car enters the other.

00:53:54 There’s an eerie sound as we transition into the new song and the camera zooms in on the Baron. It’s very fitting. The song then becomes normal again as the focus is shifted away from the Baron.

55.04 Just a couple seconds short of a perfect transition.

Song 15 Corner Soul vocal Joe Strummer

00:55:25 We see Nora Dunn’s sidekick smoking weed, this song starts with kind of a reggae/ska tone so it’s fitting.

00:56:20 There’s a fitting tone as Sarah Michelle Gellar contemplatively stares at the ceiling.

00:57:45 Mid-scene transition.

Song 16 Let’s Go Crazy vocal Joe Strummer

00:57:46 This starts with another skit of some sort but it looks like Bing is performing the skit from the back of the police car.

00:58:19 The person in the skit says, “Have a great night” and stops talking just as Bing makes his escape I actually laughed out loud this one was so spot on.

Then Seann William Scott appears to yell something as he gets drugged.

00:59:12 Joe Strummer sings “you want to be crazy” just as Bing is hit with the police car making it look like a jackass stunt.

Joe Strummer continues to sing about being crazy as Cheri Oteri backs back over Bing. The crazy aspect also works with the imagery of the two Seann William Scotts.

The crazy them also works with the Seann William Scott in the garbage discovers his glowing hand.

01:00:30 Christopher Lambert is reading a copy of Wired with the Baron on the cover. Joe Strummer sings the word “Juice” a couple times. He only says juice while the Baron’s image is on the screen. Think juice = energy and it works.

01:01:30 The song starts to ramp down perfectly as Seann William Scott waits for someone to answer the phone that he borrowed from Chris Lambert. It’s almost as if it is getting silent so Seann William Scott can talk and then BAM the transition happens just as Christopher Lambert pulls a gun on Seann William Scott. Then another skit plays that I could have sworn was part of this hold up. Great transition.

Song 17 If Music Could Talk vocal Joe Strummer

01:02:12 Reggae again as the Rock gets reunited with his family. It fits as he’s walking back to meet them being that there is a party going on in the house.

01:02:53 This song has a sweet tone to it as the Rock realizes that Mandy Moore is his wife. We cut to her just as Joe Strummer sings “Sweetie.”

01:03:10 After the Rock and Dan Fielding hug Joe Strummer sings, “Friends” as Dan Fielding pats the Rock on the cheek.

We then cut to the scene where John Lovits is trying to hook up with Cheri Oteri so the sweet tone continues to work.

 We then cut to Sarah Michelle Gellar and her pals as they whore it up on the beach, still fitting.

01:05:03 Whatever Joe Strummer is singing it fits with the guy who announces Krysta Now is here… Now. I think even sings “now” close to the perfect timing.

01:06:48 Mid-scene transition.

Song 18 The Sound of Sinners vocals Joe Strummer

01:06:49 The somewhat gospel start to the song fit so good as we bounce from person to person or sinner to sinner, almost as if each person is picking up the next line to sing.

The gospel tones are perfect when Mandy Moore flails her arms in anger.

01:08:56 Joe Strummer singing about believing in Jesus as we hold on the Rock who plays a Christ figure in the movie.

01:10:43 the song ends at the perfect moment.

Song 19 Police on My Back vocals Mick Jones

01:13:13 This is a fun song and it goes good with the media montage.

The song contains the scene where the prime minister gets his hand cut off as Mick Jones sings “what have I done?”

01:13:51 Mick Jones sings “Help me” as the Prime Minister yells something holding his arm near his freshly severed hand.

01:14:07 This song ends at the perfect moment yet again.

Song 20 Midnight Log vocals Joe Strummer

01:14:08 I just had another wow moment as Joe Strummer singing about meeting the devil just as we cut to Christopher Lambert and then we cut to the sign that says “Fire” over the building  were Justin Timberlake does his drug dealing.

01:15:28 I believe I heard the line “respected occupation” at the exact moment the Martin Kefauver points out his father is Justin Timberlake’s plastic surgeon. I have to admit I’m a bit anxious as to whether or not there will be an amazing transition into the, “I Got Soul but I’m Not a Soldier scene.

01:16:18 Mid-scene transition.

Song 21 The Equalizer vocals Joe Strummer

01:16:18 This better be a short song or else it may ruin the magic I was hoping to see.

It is a mid-scene transition and it is VERY fitting for the scene that is currently playing out where Justin Timberlake is taunting the Martin Kefauver with the Fluid Karma.

01:17:03 The singing starts exactly when Justin Timberlake injects himself and the ghostly tones are pretty amazing we watch Justin Timberlake gets too high to stand up and fade into the dream world of the music video.

01:17:58 I just had another big oh wow moment.

I was just going to complain that the tone of the song doesn’t fit the tone of the “I Got Soul…” video.  Then I started to think if it wasn’t for Justin Timberlake’s mouth moving so quickly because of the original songs tempo, everyone’s motion and the movement of the camera works.

 I went to pause the video to write down this observation when a whistle blew and at that exact moment all the girls on the ski ball machine sat up at once. It’s kind of amazing.

01:18:33 I might just be high on this one but I heard a sound the exact moment that Justin Timberlake slams the beer can down on the glass case.

It also looks like he’s actually singing along right at points.

Wow that music video scene worked way better than I was expecting but you do have to fight the urge to think of the tone of the original song.

01:20:29 There are sounds of footsteps just as Seann William Scott stands and starts to run.

1.22.04 This song ends with a great transition of a weird holler just as Sarah Michelle Gellar enters Cheri Oteri’s place and notices the inflatable doll with the light bulb shoved through its throat.

Song 22 The Call Up vocals Joe Strummer

01:23:52 I don’t have any specific moments but this song syncs up great for this series of scenes that play out.

There’s a moment were we see Martin Kefauver in the SUV we don’t know he has a gun and I think the song says “I don’t want to die,” then goes on to say “I don’t want to kill” meanwhile this kid is about to kill himself because he doesn’t want to go to war. Pretty amazing how the themes sync up.

01:25:50 I was thinking that this song doesn’t fit to the scene where Dan Fielding and Nora Dunn meet up to make the ransom swap. It’s about youth not wanting to go to war so I didn’t see how it fit with these older people meeting up. The song also seems to have kind of a plead to follow your heart, and in the Cannes Cut Dan Fielding and Nora Dunn have an extended tender moment on the Mega Zeppelin.

01:27:37 Perfect transition.

Song 23 Washington Bullets vocals Joe Strummer

1.28.35 Perfect the Joe Strummer is singing about wanting Castro Dead as the ad for prop 69 plays with the guy complaining about getting his guns taken away. It totally looks like this is the way that ad was made.

1.29.34 So we’re listening to this assassination song. We have the gun ad and now we see Justin Timberlake at his station which is a big gun.

1.31.19 Interesting transition point I was thinking that the assassination song would include the killing of Starla, but no we’re fading out moments before the shot is fired.

Song 24 Broadway vocals Joe Strummer

01:31:35 I can’t wait to see what happens!!!

It is interesting the song is a little loungeish ass the Rock goes into his own head and comes back as Jericho Kane. This lounge persona being something I would never to expect from The Clash like they’re going into character as well.

It also does look like the Rock is singing along at times.

Also Joe Strummer singing about trying to win over some girl as the Rock switched to Jericho to give in to her dick sucking offer.

01:36:19 Mid-scene but still a good transition.

We then go into what I discovered is the epilog of this song sung by a little kid.

01:36:20 This is a kids singing. The fact that it is a kid fits because we are watching Jimmy Hermosa vomiting amongst the other adult children on the beach.  

01:37:12 Mid-scene transition.

Song 25 Lose This Skin vocal Tymon Dogg

01:37:48 Nora Dunn and her assistant Teri saying their good byes as Tymon Dogg sings “We’re going on a ride,” Nora Dunn on the Zeppelin and Teri on the chaotic night of street violence.

The song also works with the media montage but all the songs work with the media montages.

It also works with Seann William Scott and Martin Kefauver again because the theme similarities not so much synchronization “I’ve got to lose this skin I’m imprisoned in.”

01:41:00 There’s a perfect false ending to the song right at the cut of the scene.

01:42:19 Ends on an awesome transition. Kevin smith even hits the computer key at almost the exact moment a piano key is struck.

Song 26 Charlie Don’t Surf Vocals Joe Strummer and Mick Jones

01:42:20 We then go to another media montage and I’ve already established that those always work with the songs.

01:47:15 Wow that was the most amazing segment I’ve seen so far. It starts with the Rock looking out the window of the building. The camera pulls out through the window and we go on a one take journey through the Mega Zeppelin. In the actual move it’s a musical scene so of course it works, but I really liked it.

If the song only ended with the end of the steady cam shot I would have sworn this was a video for this song.

Song 27 Mensforth Hill vocals Instrumental

01:48:16 A bit of an awkward transition but after that last song I’ll let it go.

01:48:04 It sounds like there are a bunch of sound devices going off as we enter the USIDent space.

01:50:06 The start to this song is very weird but it’s working, it’s a weird movie. We’re on the Mega Zeppelin and there’s a lot going on.

Oh, I think the song is backwards, there is also a weird part of the song right at the point that that always bothered me. Just as the guy telling Nana Mae that she can be smelled from down the hall.

01:50:26 Bobby Frost totally looks like he’s saying this.

01:51:02 Good transition.

Song 28 Junkie Slip vocals Joe Strummer

01:53:45 A good sound track to a back and forth conversations. Bad transition.

Song 29 Kingston Advice vocals Joe Stummer

01:56:26 I’m getting tired zoned out through that one. Again it fit, just nothing exciting to point out. Bad transition.

Song 30 The Street Parade vocals Joe Strummer

01:56:27 The bad transition of the last song set up the beginning to this song perfectly.

01:59:51 Perfect transition. Since this song takes place during a musical performance they work perfectly together and though they don’t end together the imagery that is on the screen as the song ends still works as a good stopping point.

Song 31 Version City vocals Joe Strummer

02:00:00 This starts with another skit and at times it looks like the Rock could be delivering the lines.

02:01:08 Joe Strummer sings “I’m jumping out” right when the ice cream truck hits the ATM causing it to jump.

02:03:24 There’s a nice break in the song just as Bai Ling is dropped to the ground.

02:03:57 Meh transition? The Rock’s back is to us as he speaks so it doesn’t appear to be cutting anyone off.

Song 32 Living in Fame vocals Mikey Dread

02:03:59 This starts with another skit that makes it look like the rock is asking if “You’re a have or a have not.” After the skit there’s a great transition into the violence on the street getting more out of control as the riot cops show up. All this action is play out to an interesting Reggae song again juxtaposition.

02:06:38 There are some interesting noises that start just as Sarah Michelle Gellar is introduced to the stage, almost as if the album is trying to make up for the song running too long for a good transition.

02:08:41 The two sync up lovely right here as the Rock and Sarah Michelle Gellar dance. The music changes its tune for a bit then turns a little jazzy.

02:08:52 Great transition.

Song 33 Silicone on Sapphire vocals Joe Strummer

02:08:53 This starts with another skit but the music in the background is still appropriate for the dance scene. It’s pretty close to perfect timing when the skit ends and the song begins with the Rock dipping Sarah Michelle Gellar.

02:10:53 Joe Strummer sings “Kill. Kill. Kill me” just before the Rock puts the gun to his head.

02:13:24 There is a moment of silence from the song transitioning at the exact moment that the rocket is fired. It’s kind of stunning.

Song 34 Version Pardner vocals Joe Strummer

02:14:57 There’s a fitting yet bizarre noise right when Seann William Scott puts the gun to his head.

02:16:04 though the song has yet to end, the movie but it ends in a way that works so that the music just carries over to the credits.

02:17:10 The song makes another bizarre sound just as the Southland Tales logo fades away.

Song 35 Career Opportunities vocals Luke Gallagher and Ben Gallagher

I didn’t note the time but this song starts during the closing credits.

Song 36 Shephards Delight vocals Instrumental

Also didn’t note the time but ending on an instrumental song is perfect.

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.