Director Richard Kelly's previous effort, the effective, gripping, but extremely confusing "DONNIE DARKO" seems simple and straight-forward in its narrative when compared to his latest film, "SOUTHLAND TALES," now available on blu-ray from SONY. The story takes place as nuclear bombs destroy parts of Texas and WW3 begins. Years later, the country is an Orwellian nightmare, with cameras watching everyone, and various characters are all thrown into the plot which somehow involves Marxist guerillas, the search for an oil substitute, a porn star, an actor with amnesia and even more confusing elements. Although never dull, the plot is as confusing to explain as it is to watch, and it's hard to comprehend whether this version is any better than the original film the director first previewed at festivals before altering it.
Ultimately, "SOUTHLAND TALES" deserves credit for at least trying to be different and not feeling like something we've seen a thousand times before. The cast is interesting and even endearing at times.
SONY has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. It's a great looking transfer, with colors intentionally varying in intensity, often vibrant, and never oversaturated. Contrast is excellent, with inky blacks, especially in comparison to a fine looking dvd. There is some slight grain present, but it doesn't detract from the great detail and depth offered in scene after scene.
SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. While not an aggressive mix, surrounds kick in appropriately during key scenes and ambient effects are impressive throughout. All speakers are utilized with great impact in complimenting the great score from MOBY.
Extras include the same commentary from the earlier dvd, with the writer/director. It's entertaining and Kelly comes across more amiably than most of his associates have accredited him as being in the past.
Three graphic novel chapters leading up to the film's opening sequence are offered with still-frame advance feature on the remote control.