With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Duane "The Rock" Johnson, Mandie Moore, Miranda Richardson and Seann William Scott. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. 2 hours, 24 mins.
(nudity, profanity, violence, drugs, adult themes). Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse, AMC Neshaminy and Showcase at the Ritz Center/NJ.
What's The Rock doing with his fingers? What's Sarah Michelle Gellar doing with a talk show? What's the world going to do now that Texas has been nuked by terrorists?
Richard Kelly's messy post-9/11 epic, Southland Tales, doesn't answer these questions (especially the one about Duane "The Rock" Johnson's nervous-ninny digit flexing), but it has a goofily self-conscious, all-over-the-map time posing them - and lots of other Deep Thoughts packaged in cheesy pop iconography.
Set in the worrisomely near future, and centering on three souls - an amnesiac action-movie star (The Rock), a porn queen turned political-talk-show host (Gellar) and a cop with a parallel-universe split personality (Seann William Scott) - Southland Tales is like an apocalyptic pastiche of a James Bond parody (remember Casino Royale?), spun on a dozen Philip K. Dick plotlines, as reimagined by the editors of US Weekly.
Throw in references to T.S. Eliot, Kurt Vonnegut, Hollywood noir and Karl Marx, add a bunch of campy cameos (Justin Timberlake, Miranda Richardson, Wallace Shawn) and hold tight for 21/2 hours.