Good art helps us make sense of the stuff that doesn't.
What was up with Vietnam? Oh, Apocalypse Now. Say no more.
What's the precise appeal of bowling? The Big Lebowski? I'm convinced.
So what does it say when a movie makes you want to go to straight to sleep, where at least your bizarre, nonsensical dreams don't feature distracting SNL castoffs? Why, that would mean that for some reason you have chosen to watch 2006's Southland Tales.
After a nuclear bomb is detonated in Texas, American politics are more divided than ever. Amid wars, terrorism and civilian surveillance, action star and amnesia victim Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson finds himself caught in an underground battle between government security and the rebel Neo-Marxists.
I'm not even sure if that summary is accurate. Southland Tales is insane. Not insane like "Dude, that cheeseburger was crazy." Insane like it has been following you for three blocks now and won't stop shouting about how Cheetos dust is made from the ashes of the dead. The action kicks off with 10 straight minutes of narration, after which the setting is only more confused than ever.
Here is an actual thing that happens not too far into the movie: Seann William Scott, impersonating his twin brother as a police officer, takes Johnson to a fake domestic dispute that is supposed to end in an also-fake double murder, which Johnson will capture on film and believe is real, only real cop Jon Lovitz shows up and kills the two actors for real.
If that makes sense to you, please let me know what town you live in, so I can make sure that I don't.
Other than being crazier than a 12-piece bucket of deep fried crazy, Southland Tales is notable as writer/director Richard Kelly's followup to Donnie Darko. You would think he would be perfect for this; Southland Tales's paranoia, chaos and confusion were inspired by 9/11, and coincidentally, it's every bit as horrible too.
Note: I am kidding. Put away those Letters to the Editor. Your cats need their litter changed.
Though it's just about unwatchable, Southland Tales has a number of highly enjoyable moments, like everything Johnson does and when Justin Timberlake drunkenly lip syncs to The Killers. If "Philip K. Dick via severe cranial trauma" sends you racing to the empty storefront that was once a Blockbuster, have I got a movie for you!
* Contact Ed Robertson at email@example.com