Previously at the ICA -

Oh Liberty!: Southland Tales

26 Nov 2013

The final film in the Oh Liberty! Cinematheque season, Southland Tales is an overlooked enfant terrible that feels more relevant - and plausible - in the present moment than upon its initial release. Perhaps the most ambitious film of the past decade, Richard Kelly's follow-up to his cult 2001 debut Donnie Darko is a kaleidoscopic vision of the Apocalypse as seen from Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier.

Set in July 2008, in an alternative version of Los Angeles where nuclear attacks against America have sparked a third world war and instigated an Orwellian system of state surveillance, Southland Tales forms a dizzying postmodern collage of cinematic genres: science-fiction musical, political conspiracy thriller, noir-infused crime saga, Brechtian Gulf War satire and magic mushroom-induced religious prophecy.

With a Pynchon-esque proliferation of characters and a matrix of overlapping plot-lines, Southland Tales proves almost impossible to synopsize: Iraq war veterans stumble around abandoned video arcades whilst lip-synching to The Killers under the influence of psychedelic drugs; alternative fuel sources are mined from a Serpentine trench in the Earth's core; electronically-powered cars fornicate with each other on public television; porn stars develop energy drinks, write explicit pop songs and prophesy the end of the world; Neo-Marxist cell groups rig national elections with severed thumbs; the Messiah rides a doomed Mega-Zeppelin over downtown Los Angles and Seann William Scott rips a hole in the fourth dimension from a levitating ice cream van.

With an unparalleled ensemble cast that includes Justin Timberlake, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Sarah Michelle-Gellar, Mandy Moore, Wallace Shawn, Amy Phoeler, Kevin Smith, Seann William Scott (in two roles) and half the cast of Saturday Night Live, Southland Tales remains one of the most pertinent cultural artefacts of the 21st century, an overwhelming cross-section of post-9/11 American pop-culture amidst the race for the 2008 presidential election.

All films are 18+ unless otherwise stated. Please note that £3 Tuesday cinema tickets are limited to one per ICA Member.

Southland Tales, dir Richard Kelly, USA 2006, 145 mins


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