Southland Tales appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mostly positive presentation.
For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Occasional soft shots materialized – mainly during interiors – but the majority of the flick seemed fairly well-defined.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Noise reduction failed to become an issue, and I witnessed only a couple of small specks in terms of print flaws.
Despite the sunny Southern California setting, Tales mostly stayed with a subdued palette, one that favored teal and amber. These tones seemed adequate, if not especially vivid.
Blacks looked pretty deep and rich, while low-light shots offered appealing clarity. Ultimately, the image seemed to replicate the source appropriately.
In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed fine for the material. This meant a soundscape that lacked a ton of ambition, but it came to life on occasion.
That meant via the movie’s sporadic “action” scenes. These didn’t occur frequently, but they used the five speakers in an engaging way when necessary and gave the mix punch.
The rest of the track became less involving, though the soundscape managed to create a decent sense of environment. Music also use the channels well.
Audio quality seemed more than satisfactory, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Music showed nice range and impact, as the score and songs brought solid reproduction.
Effects offered accurate elements, without distortion or other concerns, and they showed positive low-end as necessary. The soundtrack worked out for this film.
This two-disc set provides two separate editions of Tales. Disc One houses the Theatrical Version (2:24:54) while Disc Two brings the Cannes Cut (2:38:32).
Apparently Kelly submitted Tales to Cannes before he finished it and figured they’d say no. However, they agreed to run it and showed it in an incomplete state.
This didn’t go well, and Kelly eventually got to finish the movie, a process that led him to trim about 14 minutes and change a few elements. Though these still left Tales as a mess, at least it makes more sense than the really scattered Cannes version.
Disc Two includes the “Cannes Cut” and nothing else, so all the set’s extras appear on Disc One. Alongside the Theatrical Version, we find an audio commentary from writer/director Richard Kelly. He brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters/themes, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, effects, and other production domains.
While Kelly gets into those aforementioned filmmaking areas, he mainly focuses on a discussion of the narrative and roles, with an emphasis on explanation. He did the same with his Darko commentary, and that choice allowed the Darko track to become an informative set of “footnotes” that added to the viewer’s experience.
No such elucidation occurs here, as Kelly’s additional background for the movie’s story and characters proves less than exciting. Some of that happens because he tends to narrate the film more than dig into nuances, but it also occurs simply because Tales offers a much less intriguing experience than Darko.
With the latter, I felt eager to know more. With Tales, I didn’t like the movie enough to care about these backstory issues.
I will say that Kelly explains the elements reasonably well for the movie’s first half, but after that, he becomes less interesting, as he tends to do little more than describe the action. Kelly offers enough info to make this a worthwhile listen, but the commentary seems less engaging than I’d expect.
A new three-part documentary called It’s a Madcap World fills a total of 50 minutes, 54 seconds. We get notes from Kelly, production designer Alec Hammond, producer Matthew Rhodes, and director of photography Steven Poster.
“World” examines the project’s roots and development, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, visual effects, editing, and the movie’s release/reception/legacy.
On the negative side, it seems like a shame that none of the huge cast appears here. However, despite the limited number of participants, “World” brings a nice view of the project.
Inevitably, some of the material repeats from Kelly’s commentary, but the added voices bring useful notes as well. This becomes a pretty effective program.
From 2006, USIDent TV runs 33 minutes, 48 seconds and provides remarks from Kelly, Hammond, Poster, Rhodes, Kelly’s uncle Larry Robertson, producer Sean McKittrick, stunt coordinator Tanoai Reed, Quantum Creation FX’s Justin Raleigh, costume designer April Ferry, electrician Dan Jones, and actors Will Sasso, Dwayne Johnson, Wood Harris, Todd Berger, Wallace Shawn, Bai Ling, Zelda Rubinstein, Justin Timberlake, Curtis Armstrong, Jon Lovitz, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Christopher Lambert.
“TV” examines story and characters, themes, sets and locations, cast and performances, stunts, effects, costumes,
The interview comments don’t tend to reveal a whole lot, and the program’s format can annoy, as it seems stylized for no logical reason. However, we get enough interesting footage from the set to make this a worthwhile show.
Another archival piece, This Is the Way the World Ends spans nine minutes, 12 seconds and gives us an animated short set in the film’s universe. It proves highly preachy and adds nothing to the Tales experience.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It offers 151 stills that mix shots from the film and promotional pics. It becomes a decent compilation.
After the promise of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly failed to create a fulfilling follow-up with Southland Tales. Rambling and dull, the movie flails despite an overqualified cast. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio along with a nice array of bonus materials. Tales flops.