In Defense of Southland Tales

Peter Greenaway once said that if you want to tell a story, write a book, but do not make a movie. He may wanted to say that just telling the story is a waste of film media, as there are more possibilities to enrich consumer’s life through it. It is a simple fact that the film is a combination of several different artistic directions together, namely literature (script), fine arts and photography (cinematography, film visual, scenery, effects, costumes), music or choreography (dance in musicals, martial arts), etc. In short, the film is a complex piece of art attacking your senses on all fronts… and while watching Southland Tales I was realizing it more than ever before.


Thanks to this film Richard Kelly can be placed next to Greenaway and David Lynch, whose perception of film media is very similar to Greenaway’s. I would even dare to name Southland Tales Kelly’s Lost Highway. But in his work, Kelly went a bit further and created a sort of monstrous popcultural plaything in which a lot of thoughts and references come together (whether on other films or on the Bible… even on actual political situation in our real world), and which I boldly claim to be the mirror of contemporary film art.

Film Title: Southland Tales

With its genre neutrality it comes close to Asian cinematography – it’s a satire, comedy, drama, a musical movie (with one purely musical number), parable, and much more, and it’s fascinating how it all keeps together… and even it does not seem to make a perfect sense at first, it actually does if you get the job done and read the comic book in which you’ll find first three chapters of this epic Los Angeles drama. Yeah, you are reading correctly, the first part of the story is a comic book also by Richard Kelly. So the film starts with chapter four and can be partially understood even without the knowledge of a comic, but really only partially. You can solve the main story line, but still there will remain plenty of unresolved questions. So if you want a film you can watch only once that will simply entertain you for two and a half hours, you better avoid Southland Tales, but if you are willing to explore the film with every next view and to go after all the details and references, I guarantee you that this film will reward you with complex cinematic experience. And what is it all about? It’s about a lot of things… and some of them are quite important. Just watch it and you’ll see. And maybe you’ll love it as much as I do.


Through Vomiting and Penises to a More Valuable Art

Okay, honestly, for quite some time the art branch is no longer as exclusive as it was in times of Michelangelo or Frida Kahlo. I think that we all can agree on that. You remember Vincent Van Gogh, who had to be financed by his own brother so that he could get canvases and oil paints for his paintings? These things are now much more affordable, although, of course, Van Gogh is not exactly the best case because he had a pretty large consumption with his super unique style – yeah, that eared boy could control his temper a bit and he didn‘t have to squeeze such a large amount of color out of the tubes at every “snick” on the canvas. Anyway, that’s what he was, he was exceptional. What’s important is that now perhaps every second person can afford a canvas and paint colors. A person can paint a couple of pictures and he can call himself a painter. And when he doesn‘t know how to paint, he comes up with some additional value to make his creation more interesting than it actually is. I mean – just look at that lovely Millie Brown (do not confuse her with Millie „Eleven“ Brown from Stranger Things) – I’m not saying that the girl does not know how to paint, no, but let’s be honest, would she has the same attention if she did not vomit on a canvas? Yeah, exactly, sweet Miss Millie is practicing truly original painting technique – first she drinks a bottle of watery color, then stands above the canvas, puts her fingers in her throat and starts to vomit all over the canvas. Whatever Jackson Pollock runs in his studio with open canisters like a maniac, spilling various colors all over the place, well, he can try as hard as he can, but this Millie Brown’s creative approach is just totally different kind of punk!


You can say or vomit whatever you want, Millie Brown really can be a good painter, but, in my opinion, she is first of all a damn good businessman. Nowadays, when everybody who has a camera immediately becomes a photographer (especially now, when there is a pretty good camera in almost every cellphone – and what can I say, who doesn’t have a cellphone today?), it is just damn important to differentiate yourself from other eager beavers. You have to stand out. You have to glow. To vomit like a devil.

Millie Brown just figured it out. People just don’t care about simply beautiful paintings. People just don’t care about complicated art either. They are interested in art with a story. „Hey, look, it’s  the painting from that woman who vomits colors!“ People are interested in exotics. They like shocking stuff. Stuff that will make them say „OMG, realy?“ or „No way!“ or „That’s just so sick!“


And you know who else figured it out? A guy who calls himself Pricasso. What is his superpower? Tim Patch a.k.a. Pricasso once told himself that he will not spend money on brushes and instead he’ll pain with his own sausage. And so here he is – a guy in pink costume who is soaking his nude Wiener Schnitzel in painter’s palette and is painting with it. Damn, that’s the spirit, right?


Look, it’s not bad, I can recognize people on some of those portraits he made. I’m just asking myself: would that guy be equally famous if he painted with normal brushed? If he didn’t dress like an idiot? I don’t think so. And that’s the point. The market (not only) with art is overwhelmed and requires artists to go in more aggressive and extreme ways to differentiate themselves from the mass in order to receive their desired attention. Let’s face it, art is no longer just about your skills, about being able to do something, to make something. Being the best in something may not be enough anymore. In fact, in some cases you don‘t even have to be average, you just have to be perverse or weird. I’m just thinking that if Van Gogh, Monet or Modigliani would be still alive, they‘ll probably run fast to Elon Musk into SpaceX, begging him to shoot them immediately to Mars.