Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Song: Tender
Artist: Blur
Album: 13

Yesterday I went to see Richard Kelly’s new film “Southland Tales,” a real dozy of an apocalyptic comedy that could be described as sprawling, confusing, hysterical, and maybe a bit of a mess. I was a fan of Kelly’s debut feature “Donnie Darko” which got as much praise as “Tales” has gotten bile spit about it. The film had a now legendary negative reception at the Cannes film festival in 2006, but has only recently been released here and around the world.

The film is set in the near future mostly in Los Angeles where World War 3 has recently broken out and a popular action star has awoken with amnesia. He somehow shacks up with a former porn star and writes a screenplay about an actor involved in the end of the world. I could try to write out a full summary of the film but it’s one of those that you’d begin to actually just tell the story… and realize that you’re not even a quarter through and have already said way too much. Basically, it’s a black comedy about the United States headed toward war and a comment on the way terror is introduced through the media. (Much of the film is comprised of faux news footage that looks like a trumped-up version of Fox News.)

Take a look at the trailer and you’ll see what “sprawling” means…

As with “Donnie Darko,” Kelly infuses a lot of interesting music into the picture, and this time even had Moby do the entire score. The soundtrack also features the Pixies, Elbow, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Oddly, the soundtrack excludes The Killers’ “All These That I’ve Done” which is lip-synced by Justin Timberlake’s character in an odd (and not entirely necessary) musical dance number set in an arcade, as well as the closing credits track, “Tender” by Blur.

I specifically thought “Tender” was a great way to end the picture, giving the film some hope that I didn’t think was very evident in the final scenes. “Tender” is from Blur’s 6th album “13” from 1999. Blur is an amazing band from the U.K. that started out as a Brit-pop band (famously competing and feuding with Oasis) but had with their last three albums (including “13”) began to experiment with their sound and approach. “Tender” starts “13,” a sprawling (why can’t I shake that word?) love ballad that grows in intensity with a full choir. It was an odd choice for a first single, and didn’t do so well on the charts in the U.K. (forget about the States) though subsequent singles off the record did better.

I highly recommend “13,” and will also say go see “Southland Tales.” If you liked the tone of “Donnie Darko” and the semi sci-fi aspects of that film you’ll see the similarities. It certainly is flawed, but not without it’s merits. You won’t be bored… but you also might not know what the heck is going on either.


“Tender” Video

Also off “13:” “Coffee and TV”

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