I actually liked ‘The Box’. Very interesting concept. Much more mature and overall engaging subject matter than his debut. I’m not sure about his collaborators, but ‘The Box’ is his most fully realized feature (I still think the original cut of ‘Darko’ is his best, but this is his most complete). Kelly is a talented guy with a lot of ideas, but in many ways, he is A.D.D. put onto film. ‘Southland Tales’ was an ambitious undertaking, but he got too caught up on tangents and elements that had nothing to do with the movie (i.e. the comic books) that the finished product is muddled (I do find it intriguing that for once, the inane psychobabble within a movie is SUPPOSED to be empty). He is capable of astonishing individual scenes and wonderful sublime idiosyncratic moments of spontaneity that it is frustrating his output hasn’t been any better.
I agree with you that the DC took all the piss and mystery out of the film, and the ending is FAR less effective. This, however, doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of his original cut. Let’s hope that ‘The Box’ is a pretext of what is to come from him.