Southland Tales (2006) (part 7 of 10)

Ah, man. I remember being overjoyed at coincidentally being assigned my favorite part of Battlefield Earth, and describing it with vicious glee, but I was so much happier and more innocent then, wasn’t I?

Now I’m recapping Southland Tales, and how things have changed. I just took a deep breath, cued up my first scene and realized, with a sinking feeling, that no matter what fifteen minutes I got, I’ll be in misery. You, having read 6 pages of this by now, are no doubt already in misery. Let’s journey down the path together.

We begin outside an arcade named “FIRE”, which has apparently become the headquarters for Private Pilot Abilene to do whatever unfathomable things it is that he does whenever he’s not on that gun turret overlooking the beach. Armed soldiers appear, escorting a white kid in baggy shorts that reach past his knees, an XXXL T-shirt, dog tags that aren’t his, the incessant habit of calling everyone “dawg”, and a do-rag and a scraggly goatee. I found this guy the least grating character in the movie. Mull that one over for a while.

The kid is escorted to a counter, where he puts a Ziploc bag of something in front of Abilene. We never clearly see what’s in the bag; it could be anything from marijuana to a gun, from what I can tell. Luckily, the dialogue helps us out: “Is it God?” asks Abilene.

“It’s… it’s medicinal,” says the kid. Well, that clears that up.

This whole scene is amazing in its ability to bring up important-sounding plot points and character attributes that not only don’t matter, but are never mentioned again. First, the kid looks at Abilene and can’t help saying, “Yo, dawg, I’ve seen all of your movies. You’re great.” Trying to figure that one out, I eventually guessed that maybe Abilene is this universe’s version of Elvis, except he was disfigured by shrapnel after he went off to combat. But it’s just as likely that the kid didn’t know the cameras had started rolling, and was just making small talk with Justin Timberlake.

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Jake Cremins

In ninth grade, Jake devoted a website to Exorcist II: The Heretic. Believe it or not, years later this actually helped him get an unimaginably glamorous job on the bottom rung of post-production for a show airing on ESPN. Dreams do come true! In between organizing tape libraries and labeling things, Jake also works as an editor for the occasional zero-budget independent production. He was also a film critic for the now-defunct Movie Gurus website.

Multi-Part Article: Southland Tales (2006)

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