Richard Kelly shoots the moon with his rich, strange, and very funny sci-fi social satire, Southland Tales. The political phantasmagoria unfolds in an alternately pre- and post-apocalyptic universe in which Abilene, Texas, was nuked on July 5, 2005. Since then, oil prices have spiked and an absurd German multinational has figured out how to produce energy -- along with a new psychedelic drug -- from the ocean. The draft is back; war has spread to Syria. Cops stand watch offshore, their RPGs trained on the beach. Thanks to the Patriot Act, cyberspace is under government control. Plus, it's an election year. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson heads the large cast playing an anxious, amnesiac celebrity Boxer Santaros, with vampire-slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar as the socially conscious porn queen Krysta Now. Having been abducted and brainwashed, no longer remembering his marriage to the daughter of the Republican VP candidate, Santaros is shacked up with Krysta. Rival blackmailers -- a self-described "international documentary filmmaker" (Nora Dunn) and a volatile lefty (Cheri Oteri) -- strive to exploit the Santaros-Now liaison as a means to intervene in the election. The secret controller, however, is the Baron von Westphalen (Wallace Shawn), inventor of alternative energy Liquid Karma. Clearly, this all makes sense to Kelly, who generously invites you to go with the flow. His movie may not be entirely coherent, but that's because there's so much it wants to say. Southland Tales plays daily at the Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli Student Union through January 24; visit www.denverfilm.org or call 303-595-3456 for informatin.
Jan. 18-24, 2008