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Plot: Southland Tales is an ensemble piece set in the futuristic landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Boxer Santaros is an action star who's stricken with amnesia. His life intertwines with Krysta Now, an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and Ronald Taverner, a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. Runtime: 145 mins Release Date: 06 Dec 2006
I normally recommend this film to nobody. (by devv1988)
This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper, but with a bang.This is a film about all of the seemingly random events that lead up to the end of the world. And it's also a comedy.That says it all right there, doesn't it? When this film ended, I ran to tell every one I could find about it. The odd thing I found about it was that I ended nearly every one of these conversations with the following: "It was amazing, but don't see it. You won't like it." It's strange to hope that a film I feel so passionately about should not be seen by the very people I want to <more>
discuss it with. However, that's exactly the way I feel here. This film is not for everybody; in fact, there are only a precious few out of all of the people who see it that will even tolerate its existence. But you know what? That really isn't important.Art is subjective, and no matter how many times I bother to explain a difficult concept to somebody who hated this film, I realize that it will never work long before the conversation ends. The problem is that these difficult concepts are actually very simplistic: Richard Kelly had Dwayne Johnson spoof the stereotypical, apocalyptic action-hero throughout the film. This included over-dramatic readings of his lines, delayed reactions and odd vocal dynamics.What? You say that it wasn't intentional, and that it was just Johnson's poor acting skills? This is where the small-minded fail to grasp the most simplistic of concepts. The great analytical film student will analyze a crooked frame and declare the brilliance of its intent; they will say that this intentional error supports the themes of the piece. So why does the same not go for Southland Tales? Each one of these already-marked actors has broken out of their shells for this movie. The fact that everybody stereotypes them attests to Kelly's genius in assigning them the roles; however, it also proves how unfortunately small-minded today's modern audience has become.Was this film a mess? Absolutely, in every sense of the word. But was it a coherent mess? That's the real question, and I think that I can safely say that it is. This film is nowhere near as difficult to understand as anybody would have you believe. The concepts are straightforward and are practically dictated to you by the narrator; this becomes essential to the understanding of the story, as there is just way too much going on to take in on your own. However, instead of hindering the film, it makes these seemingly unrelated scenes string together into a true tapestry that is worth exploring.So, you know what? I'm going to go against my own advice and advise anybody and everybody who reads this review to go out and see this film. If you don't like it, don't come back to this website whining about it, because nobody here has the tolerance to explain things to you that you will never understand. No amount of discussion of cinematography, lighting or the fantastically haunting score by Moby is going to change the mind of an already jaded viewer.But maybe, just maybe, you will like it. You'll get a chance to experience something you're likely to rarely, if never, experience again. Because as all of us who enjoyed the film know:It had to be this way.
A piece of art much broader than any other movie you've seen (by andy0314)
This movie is intense. From the very beginning, the viewers are bombarded by a myriad of stimuli: the "newsprogram-like" format, the saturation of product placements, multiple complicated & scattered plots, interruptions by a music video, tons of stars each with their own "star" baggage, absurd happenings, etc.The Southland Tales develops a language all of its own. It's bigger than a movie because it does so much more than simply tell a narrative -- it speaks volumes of our current socio-political situation.This commentary on the status of America is a terrifying <more>
one. The Southland Tales paints a distracted and over-stimulated picture of America. There are so many distractions, in fact, that you can't even tell for sure what really is going on. Both the republicans and democrats in the film are absurd. There are no "good guys" -- only chaos, distractions, power struggles, and ultimately an apocalypse. There is also an amnesia motif in the film -- perhaps suggesting that we are brainwashed or forgetting what's important or who we are.I think that Kelly is commenting on our current situation and warning us that if we continue on this path, we are only dooming ourselves. The distracting culprits: power hungry politicians, advertisers, the news media, the music industry, the porn industry, the military, drugs, even special interests in ST it is actually a power company Unfortunately, 90% of the people watching this film will get too frustrated with it and walk out of the theatre before understanding what it is really saying. The reviews will be bad because this is not a typical movie, yet it will be championed as a cult classic and re-released in 5 years or so once it has gained enough popularity... hmm... sounds a little like Donnie Darko's fate. Richard Kelly is a director ahead of his time, an independent thinker who doesn't care about putting out blockbuster hits, a director who actually has something important to say and contribute to the world.
A Wonderfully Electric Misunderstood Masterpiece (by suckerdwsp316)
I'm just gonna go right out and say it. Richard Kelly's visionary epic "Southland Tales" is one of the best movies of 2007 and one of the most unique films ever created. However, to my and yours as well dismay, any attempt to synopsize this film would be an almost impossible task.What Richard Kelly achieves with "Southland Tales" however, is unprecedented. He basically shows audiences what movies are really all about. They are a universe unto themselves. And the writer and director of that movie is the God of this universe and can do anything he or she pleases. <more>
And that's exactly what Kelly does. He uses the film to speak his mind about the things that people of this country and of this world stand for and believe in. He satirizes politics and our government, our involvement in the Iraq war, our obsession over movie stars and Hollywood in general. And he pokes fun at our religious beliefs as well, at our fears and wants of destruction and mayhem all at the same time.He creates scenes filled with action, with drama, with comedy, with despair, scenes filled with music and dance, with dreams and nightmares, with science fiction and our perception of reality. If only people could let go of their obsession with common sense and realism, and appreciate it for what it is-a unique blend of fantasy and art that has never been achieved before. Yes, it is a film that is truly "out there", so much so, that it doesn't even come close to being anything audiences have seen before or will see again anytime soon. But therein lies the biggest appeal of the film, the fact that Richard Kelly had the guts to make a movie no one else wants to or can make.The ending is a bit ridiculous, I must say, in its outrageously prophetic view of the apocalypse and coming of the messiah, but everything that comes before it is almost too amazing for words. The backlash that "Southland Tales" has received is unwarranted but certainly welcome. This film reminds me of the failure that "Blade Runner" once was, when it was released in the 80s, and how Kelly's first feature, "Donnie Darko" was a box office bomb in its initial run as well. Today though, both pictures are considered to be cult classics, and two of the best sci-fi films of our time.The key to enjoying "Southland Tales" is not taking it too seriously. With character names like Boxer, Krysta, Serpentine, Nana Mae, Zora, Soberin, Starla, how can you? The movie takes place in present day, but looks like a despotic futuristic world, one in which nothing is coherent and everything is on the brink of obliteration. But that's what makes it so special. It's unlike every other film out there, and I'd go so far as to say that Richard Kelly thinks more outside of the box than any other filmmaker since the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and Stanley Kubrick.Kelly decides to ignore all conscious reason of what's possible and what's not. It's as if the film speaks to you, saying "everything is possible in the future". "People can be called Zora and Boxer, and other absurd names that are usually only given to household pets." Or the film might speak out to you and say "religion is a joke. The presidential election is a joke. Hollywood is a joke. YOU are a joke. And so I will continue to make a big joke out of all of that and more and you're not going to like it at first because it's the truth, but one day you will, and one day you will appreciate everything I have to say".I'm sure that if people can eliminate their pre-conceived notions of what a movie is supposed to be structured like, and what it's not supposed to be structured like, then audiences and critics alike would enjoy this film and the ambition of its director. Richard Kelly, I applaud you, and one day, everyone will too. And Darko fans, rest assured, and I'm only telling you this because I know you've been through this once already, but the infamy this film acquires today will lead it to its immortality tomorrow.
The Most Misunderstood Movie Masterpiece Ever? (by emvan)
Note well and full: my rating of 10/10 is for the combination of the graphic novel "prequel saga," which is nothing less than the *first half of the story*, and the movie itself. I'm not sure if it makes sense to rate the movie as a separate entity, but it is wildly entertaining enough, I think, to rate a solid 7/10 or 8/10 for anyone who can lock into its satirical mode.A word on that: it's amazing how tone-deaf some critics can be. I've read numerous reviews that criticize the movie for attempting to make deep or profound statements that instead fall flat because they <more>
are in fact trite, shallow, or stupid. Duh! I think it fair to say that at no point does any character say anything that Kelly thinks is profound; what we hear is a steady and very funny parody of exactly that. Maybe because the tone of the movie, its vision, is fresh and unique, that those who don't get it just assume it must be serious. This is part of the reason the movie is getting such wildly mixed reviews. Half the critics don't get the tone at all and hate it. Half the critics get it, and about 1/3 of those think the movie still isn't coherent enough to recommend, while the other 2/3 of the 1/2 think it's got just enough coherence to make it a treat.So how coherent is it? *Without it's first half*, I think it's fair to say that it's confusing as hell and a challenge to follow. But we are given enough of the back story that the pieces can be put together reasonably well *by someone with decent experience seeing and reading complex science fiction stories*. I can certainly see how someone could regard the story as wholly incoherent, but that's their inexperience with this kind of story. Anyone who has "gotten" ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, PRIMER, or, yes, the original cut of DONNIE DARKO on the first viewing, gotten them enough to figure out the broad outline of the plot, should be able to do the same here as did my companion at the theater .There is a big difference, though, between the movie half of SOUTHLAND TALES and these other flicks. The broad understanding of the story that you can get from a first viewing is an understanding of the WHAT of the story, but not of the WHY. In particular, it is impossible to understand the motivations of the movie's most important characters, the Treer Corporation, without having read the first half of the story.Now, here's the astonishing part. Usually when a movie is widely dissed as incoherent, the best argument its defenders can muster is that some decent sense can actually be made of it after all. Often that involves inventing plot points that the actual story omits! However, the complete SOUTHLAND TALES, the graphic novel first half and the movie second half, is not just adequately coherent, not just satisfyingly coherent, it is *thrillingly* coherent. It's every bit as coherent as its reputation for the opposite. The big reveals near the end make numerous pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and once you leave the movie theater the pieces keep on locking up, bit by bit by bit. It's one hell of a science fiction story.In short: if you have any strong interest in this movie, do yourself an immense favor and read the graphic novel. Ideally, read it first, but I think that seeing the movie, reading the graphic novel, and seeing the movie again would be highly satisfying .I still cannot figure out what Kelly was thinking when he decided to split this huge story the way he did. There's one alternate universe where this is a 600 page Hugo-Award winning novel, standing in the precise relationship to 2007 as John Brunner's brilliant STAND ON ZANZBAR did to 1967. And there's another alternate universe where it was a 6-part HBO miniseries that was universally regarded as doing for sci-fi on cable TV what the Sopranos did for crime and family drama. It's our sucky luck that we live in the universe where it was a mostly unread graphic novel plus a widely misunderstood motion picture. Then again, it's the point of the story that we do live in a sucky reality, so maybe there's perverse ironic sense in that.
Extraordinarily original, even if slightly murky. (by billybobwashere)
Summing up "Southland Tales" is a really, really hard thing to do. If I had to use a word to describe it, I would have to go with "art." Art is something that can spark a lot of debate without being very political, and can be viewed from completely different perspectives and get completely different reactions. Art means that some people will flat-out adore this film, and some will flat-out despise it.To be honest, I think I only understand about 20% of what I saw on-screen, if that. This film is WAY more complex than Richard Kelly's directorial outing, "Donnie <more>
Darko." And I absolutely respect it for that. In a time when the most popular movies are the most simple, this movie was made knowing that its audience would not be a large one, and threw away all movie norms and was willing to be one of the most original, intelligent, creative, and complicated movies that I've ever seen.The plot is difficult to follow, because there is a lot going on, and a lot of characters make it even harder to follow even if nearly everybody is played by somebody you've heard of or seen before . The main plot follows Boxer Santeros, played by the slightly unconvincing but still solid Dwayne Johnson, a man who returns to Los Angeles from the nearby desert with amnesia, unable to remember anything about who he is. As we learn throughout the film, his ties to Hollywood he's an actor and politics he was married to the daughter of a Senator make him a huge target for a lot of people, and everybody seems to be keen on finding him. At the same time, nuclear explosions in Texas, brought upon by terrorists, caused the War on Terror to get elevated to the next level, beginning World War 3, which gets very little attention here.Then, everything gets set in motion - as we are informed by our narrator Justin Timberlake - when we discover that "this is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper...but with a bang." And that's exactly how this movie functions; from its political satirical commentary to its apocalyptic feel to its very close resemblance with the "Revelations" section of the Bible as it is quoted throughout the film numerous times to its science-fiction-y style, Richard Kelly is the absolute master of this film, giving us no whimpers, but one huge complicated bang. He could have had somebody like Will Smith play the part of Boxer Santeros, but instead he went with a less-talented Dwayne Johnson, because he wanted the story to tell itself instead of relying on an in-depth performance.The movie is a little slow at times, and even though it's a hell of a lot shorter than the version shown at Cannes, it could definitely have used another twenty minutes of trimming. However, the plot is so confusing and it's so hard to dissect everything that's going on that maybe if it was shorter, this would have even been more of a problem. There are so many characters with their own agendas and so much who-is-doing-what-to-who moments that you should value every image and second of footage that you can, because these are all the clues Kelly has left behind for the people who will spend years figuring this movie out, just as they did with his brilliant "Donnie Darko."A part of the film I particularly enjoyed - and which were commonly shown throughout - were the futuristic television broadcasts, there to give you a little hint of what was going on in the world. If you just stare at the screen and expect some text or voice to pop out at you and tell you what you need to know, you won't figure out anything from these little broadcasts. But if you look very closely at all the different headlines and images popping up across the screen, this is when you see all the many different brilliant elements of the film coming together, from explanations of what's going on outside of Los Angeles in the War on Terror which has now elevated itself to World War 3 to little clever patriotic puns to little details regarding the characters we have been following. They give the film a much broader scale than one would otherwise take away from it.I think that what Kelly has accomplished with "Southland Tales" is incredible, even if he did go a little overboard with all the elements of the story. With this and "Donnie Darko," he really has proved what a brilliant mind he has, and how he isn't about telling simple entertaining stories, but rich, complex, and textured stories with deep metaphorical content and plot twists that can be up for interpretation instead of attempting to explain everything. The only very obvious message that can be taken away from this picture is its very anti- Patriot Act ideas, as it takes place in a world where the government watches and controls everything. It's also very beautifully portrayed because, as you will notice as you watch the film, nearly every single camera shot features an American flag, showing how America wants Americans to think that it's the best country of all, especially in a terrorist world such as the one in this film...and in our world today.I don't understand everything that I saw in "Southland Tales;" in fact, there is probably a lot about it that I have no idea about, and that anyone who simply goes out and sees it won't be able to pick out on his own. But what I do know is that I saw a film that dared to be different, and even though it didn't succeed on every level, it was so intelligently made and so well thought-out that calling it a "failure" would be an absolutely incorrect thing to say. Cheers for the most original film of 2007!
initial thoughts on SOUTHLAND TALES (by michaelallroy)
overly-ambitious? probably. puzzlingly dense? certainly. meandering and confusing? absolutely. SOUTHLAND TALES, richard kelly's much-maligned, oft-questioned, studio-crippled but still hotly-anticipated follow-up to DONNIE DARKO is guilty of most of the accusations that critics have hurled at it.indeed, it's a mess - but it's one of the most beautiful, most engaging, most daring messes i've seen in awhile - especially considering the fact that this is a big-studio film with such an abundance of marquee stars. but it hits on many of the same themes that DARKO did - both <more>
metaphysical and spiritual - and that's promising to me, because it's indicative of a singular focus/concept that richard kelly wants to explore in his work. i once read an essay on the cinema of David cronenberg - i can't find it now, so i'll have to paraphrase - it mentioned that the best storytellers often spend their entire careers retelling what is essentially the same story, but executing it in different ways. with only two features under his belt so far, it's premature downright offensive, some would say to make kelly/cronenberg comparisons at this point - but if this kid keeps digging into the same subject matter over and over, he's eventually going to produce an honest-to-goodness masterpiece. and that really excites me.think back to the theatrical cut of DONNIE DARKO, and how mystifying and enigmatic it was on yr first viewing. then think about the director's cut - did it feel "dumbed down" to you? like more exposition had been crowbarred in, so that the film would be EASIER for us to digest? there's some of that going on in SOUTHLAND TALES, and i'm forced to wonder if that was kelly's original vision, or if it was the result of studio interference. alternatively, the director might have gotten so tired of everyone theorising about DD, that he wanted to make certain plot points entirely unambiguous this time out. whatever the case, the end result is one the year's best films, in spite of or perhaps because of its flaws.i've studied the graphic novel and the website, and i intend to delve deeper into both including the ancillary sites . i might even need to see the film again before it leaves theaters - which will probably be soon, as this thing has "box office flop" written all over it box office mojo reports a paltry opening-night take of $37,000 , and has a "wide release" that includes all of 63 screens.at present, we can be sure of a three things: ONE, SOUTHLAND TALES has so much going on, that it's literally boiling over, and it's going to take years for people to realise what a treasure this film really is. TWO, there is a TRUE maverick inside the gates of Hollywood, his name is richard kelly, and he's going to be here for awhile. and THREE, nobody rocks the cock like krysta now.
Not as bad as you've heard... never would have done well (by mgoldsmith)
This movie, maybe more than any other I've seen, is a commitment. If you think that 144 minutes is a lot to commit to a movie, the running time is only the tip of the iceberg.In the DVD cut of the movie, a lot of things are obscured: what the big picture is, why characters are motivated to do certain things, why multiple identities are a recurring theme, why certain characters/actions are necessary.What is in the DVD cut is an extensively detailed alternate world. Unfortunately, to make the actions in that alternate world make sense, you basically have to either watch the movie multiple <more>
times, or at least know what you're dealing with.There are at least 4 layers to everything that's going on: 1 political/social commentary on contemporary American society and the apocalyptic undercurrent therein; 2 sarcastic/caustic pop culture references Philip K. Dick is a big one, but also subtle things... for instance, the Rock was Sean William Scott's protector in "The Rundown" and plays a similar role here ; 3 a self-consciousness or self-referentialism: actors cast against type, some similar themes to Donnie Darko, actions that play out in the film are largely based off of the AWFUL screenplay written by one of the characters as seen in the graphic novel prequels ; 4 the actual plot of the movie, which has deep ties to the Book of Revelation, and makes much more sense if the graphic novels are read first.These layers are pretty consummately intertwined. This is part of what makes this movie to be compelling enough to make me want to put in the necessary effort. Its imagery was provocative, and because Richard Kelly has created such a densely layered world for himself, putting in the time actually is incredibly rewarding.It should also be said that this film, like Blade Runner or There Will Be Blood, does not let its plot set specifications on its scope, or what it's about. If you hone in on what the director thinks its scope/purpose is, it's much easier to appreciate.I'm not sure exactly how to rate this movie, since as a stand alone movie it is a failure, but if you take the time to get inside Kelly's mind, it's worthwhile. So. My advice? View it as an investment or don't view it at all. Don't throw it on for an evening's entertainment. If you do, you might be entertained, but you'll probably be confused and angry.
Bring on the Dancing girls, it's the Apocalypse. (by Tachikoma-2)
"Disjointed, messy, too long, pretentious..." etc. - Just some of the critique thrown at this movie. I agree with most of it. But I still personally think Southland Tales is a good ,well... I hesitate to call it a movie in a traditional sense of the word, let's just say Southland Tales is a very interesting experience. When you put Sarah Michelle Gellar, the Rock and a drugged up cop in the same room talking about a bizarre movie script passionately, it certainly feels like the whole world is coming to an end. When Krysta Now played by Sarah Michelle Gellar is obsessing over <more>
every minute detail in the script and the Rock passionately tells the drugged up cop why the world is about to end, you feel as if the world has already reached a point where every action or conversation is just too much. Please let it all end. Often people in this movie have these bizarre conversations that seem pointless to the viewer and yet the characters in the film seem to understand each other perfectly. It feels all so apocalyptic. We have reached a point where we can't even have normal conversations. People have become too weird. They can't analyze their feelings in a rational way. Bizarre dreams have power over them.In the beginning of the movie there is a terrorist act that happens in Texas. A Flash point. Republicans see that as a reason to super enhance the Patriot Act. Say good bye to your privacy because the terrorist need to be caught. This in turn angers the left who become a group called "Neo Marxists". Bit far fetched, but then again if we can suspend our disbelief with the recent onslaught of Supermen dominating the silver screen, then Southland Tales isn't asking much. Both the right and the left are portrayed as disgusting options. The republicans are corrupted crooks who only care about winning the elections. The leftists are bunch of hyper angry individuals who basically just picker among them selves and plot to change the outcome of the upcoming election.Throw Boxer Santaros in to the mix. He is an action movie star played by the Rock. He has ties with the republican party and he is the central character in the movie. In a volatile political situation Boxer could change the outcome of the election. Also he knows how the world will end. Sadly the Rock simply cannot act. He is horrible. His nervous finger tapping is gimmicky and shows that the man should have never quit his day job. Wrestling. Justin Timberlake plays the role of a scarred Iraqi veteran. We see a drug induced dream sequence where he sings a song, its a cry of help. Even the dancing Girls in his dreams cannot any longer hold his attention. He wont bother to dance, just a few steps. It's terrific and horrific. He is empty and wishes for it all to end.Then there is the Baron and his entourage. He is the Antichrist and everything in the movie involving him lacks subtlety. It would be more interesting for the audience to discover on their own, that Baron is indeed the Antichrist, rather than have the movie explicitly tell it for you. Also I do believe that the saying :"Give the devil you finger and he will take the whole hand"- to be just that, an expression. A metaphor. To take it literally is just clumsy and dumb.Regardless of these problems, Southland Tales is a powerful experience. It's just not a remake of Donnie Darko II.
More Than A Movie, But A Litte Messy (by hokiefilm)
Southland Tales is not just a movie. It does not tell a linear story, there is not a great deal of characterization, there is no cohesive plot. It is, however, a work of art. Southland Tales is satirical commentary on the world we live in. It attacks Hollywood, politics, and technology, in general.What Richard Kelly gives us through this piece is a portrait of our chaotic and destructive lives. There is no coherence and the movie is very difficult to impossible to follow. I feel that Kelly means this to be a metaphor of the way we live today-- so absorbed in celebrity and politics, that we, <more>
as a human race and as a world, have grown too chaotic to survive. Southland Tales is a conglomeration of images, static characters, and multiple tiny plots. These different story lines and people seem, at first, to distract from the point. After watching the movie through to the end, however, the viewer realizes that this chaotic conglomeration doesn't distract from the point, it IS the point. Chaos is all we know today. Our society clings to things like celebrity and politics and this has led us to disorder and, at least in the world Kelly creates, will lead to our downfall.Southland Tales ends as the narrator says it will at the beginning: with an apocalypse. The characters in the movie, however, seem not to care. The head of an electrical plant is quite literally helping to cause the apocalypse, other political leaders turn the other cheek to the destruction in front of them worried the whole time about the upcoming election and their financial backings, not about the problems that are actually plaguing the world , and celebrities are using the disaster as a way to advance their careers. One of the funniest, most insightful parts of the movie is when the porn star, Krista Now, is performing on-stage for political leaders and other high-profile figures as the world is ending. During her performance we hear an omniscient-like announcement over the speakers:"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the way the world ends-- not with a whimper, but with a bang. But, there is hope. In the end, we can be reassured by one undeniable truth: nobody rocks the cock like Krista Now... and I mean nobody."This single quote is what made the movie for me. It gives an insight to the satirical humor Kelly incorporates throughout his work, but also speaks to the message of the piece. Kelly attacks the entire human race, telling us that we KNOW we are destroying our world and our people and yet, we don't care. We, as a people, will be able to or possibly already can foresee the end of the world, but what will or do we do? Nothing. We sit and we watch. Or, if we're really awful, we'll find a way to use it as a way to make money or acquire fame or power. I also think the end of the world can be substituted for simply destruction in the overall message-- that we, as a people, know we are ruining our world and our race, but yet, we either don't care or take advantage of the situation .In the end, I think Southland Tales is just short of a masterpiece. Kelly's message is there, if only people will look. It is a tale of destruction and evil triumphing over our human race. In the story, there are no good guys, no champions or heroes, only people: people who, time and time again, make poor choices or simply do nothing but wait for the apocalypse, or, in some cases, help it come to be. I took two stars off of my rating because, while the message is there and it is, indeed, a strong message, it is hard to get. Kelly does not do a great job of making sure his message is received by every viewer: his style of shooting and writing here is a little too chaotic for its audience. I know very few people who would sit through to the end and even fewer who would attempt to analyze it enough to get some meaning from it. All in all, I think this is more than a movie, it's a work of art. I do, however, acknowledge that it's a little sloppy and incoherent at parts, but still highly recommend it.