It's been hard for anyone who cares about movies to ignore the dismal critical reaction Richard Kelly's Southland Tales received at Cannes. All but the most passionate of Kelly fans saw the 160-minute film as a sloppy mess, too long and too unfocused to be anything but a disappointment. And, just like that, a movie that had been an eagerly-awaited sophomore effort turned into a disaster that might not even be distributed in the US. Though Universal already owns theatrical distribution rights in the US, the company still has not assigned the film a release date, and seems in no hurry to do so.

Based on an interview Kelly gave Entertainment Weekly, it sounds like Universal's solution to what has suddenly become a major problem might just be a whole lot of editing. According to Kelly, he still has no idea if the film will be released in the US, but he's heard talk of major cuts: "Potentially it could be shown with almost an hour of it missing. I don't quite know what [the resulting] film is." Hmm. While it's always fun to talk about all the movies studios ruin when they try to make them "better," one wonders if Kelly really would rather his film never play on American screens than go under the knife. I mean, it's not as if his seven hour (or whatever) preferred cut won't be instantly released in a costly, elaborate DVD edition.

As a Kelly neutral, I'd actually be interested in getting to compare Kelly's vision (which, apart from himself, no one really seems to get) with what a more traditional editor -- interested in nothing at all beyond story and clarity -- would do with the material.

[via Film Stalker]