War of the Weird

Film plot too strange for Cannes, just right for Cleveland.

You'll get two premieres for the price of one at tonight's screening of Southland Tales. First, it's the Cleveland debut of Richard Kelly's cult fave. And second, it's the inaugural appearance of American Pie's Seann William Scott on a Cleveland Cinematheque screen to add a layer of weirdness to a film that's already bizarre. "There are a ton of middlebrow movies that don't offend anyone and enjoy success. But they really don't get people excited one way or another," says John Ewing, the theater's director. "That's what we're looking for."With Jon Lovitz, Justin Timberlake, and Sarah Michelle Prinze also in the cast, the sci-fi flick follows a stream of characters, who deal with the U.S. in the throes of revolution and environmental disaster. A nuclear bomb has destroyed a part of Texas; a group of Marxists from the West Coast tries to take down the government; and Scott's character literally splits into two, with one of them vanishing into thin air.At its 2006 world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, critics roundly panned the film. That's why Ewing thinks it's a perfect fit for Cleveland audiences. "For Cannes, it was too weird, too ambitious," he says. "Even if it turned out to be a failure, these ambitious failures are more interesting than movies that aim lower and have more critical success." Southland Tales starts at 9:25 tonight and 7 tomorrow at the Cleveland Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard. Tickets are $5 to $8. Call 216-421-7450 or visit www.cia.edu.
Fri., Jan. 11, 9:25 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 12, 7 p.m., 2008