Richard Kelly makes the best kind of B-movies

His films are arguably degraded by the melodrama of it all, right down to the over-acting that requires of its actors. In The Box, Cameron Diaz — a good and underrated actor when properly deployed — is weighed down by a bafflingly unnecessary Southern accent.

Kelly got famous in the wake of the rightly-acclaimed Donnie Darko — a mindbending debut that promised big things for a writer/director in his mid-twenties. Then he got infamous for Southland Tales, a movie so profoundly bizarre that, despite a cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, Justin Timberlake, and Amy Poehler, the only real traction it ever managed was as a cult film. Even in today’s world of stream-anything-anytime, as the star power of Johnson and Poehler has grown substantially, it remains largely unseen. Timberlake told xxxx that he viewed it more as a performance piece than a movie.

But his films are also earnest and ambitious. Sometime calling a movie ‘ambitious’ is a back-handed compliment. It rings of ‘unreached potential.’ And if Kelly’s reach exceeds his grasp, so be it. Let him keep reaching.

The dialogue isn’t realistic. It doesn’t sound authentic to the period, it sounds authentic to the stiff network TV shows of the period. Maybe that’s intentional?

I think Drew Barrymore was instrumental in getting this film made. But she is woefully miscast as an English teacher.