At the Cannes festival in 2006 director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) received a not-so-warm reception for his film Southland Tales, a strange apocalyptic tale about four strangers whose lives intersect. The film, which includes an unwieldy cast composed of Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott and Justin Timberlake, is big and awkward. Credit ought be given to Kelly, nevertheless, for seeing such a massive project through. The story, set in the not-so futuristic landscape of Los Angeles in 2008 goes something like this: the world stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster–so far, you’ve got me. Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson) is an amnesic action star whose life intersects with Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar, an adult film star developing her own reality TV project and Ronald Tavernier (Scott), a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. Right away as the film begins, you think about the Patriot Act, invasion of privacy, a new, post-9/11 world order and vigilantism. They’re all timely concepts, in a way, but ones that overstayed their welcome. More so now, even, than in 2006 when the film was premiered at Cannes. And in spite of the bigness of it all, Southland Tales never quite manages to coalesce into a convincing whole. Some of the performances (especially Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock) come across as forced. Gellar’s performance is the most realistic of them and yet it is not enough to pull the others out of oblivion. Like Hopkins’ Slipstream and Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, Southland Tales is a visual spectacle but not much else, unfortunately