Author Topic: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)  (Read 3136 times)

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2020, 10:55:21 AM »
snoot snoot

upset.

I'll happily watch utter shite, this is just pretentious wank.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2020, 11:15:43 AM »
I think there were a lot of the word of "mouth" (ie forum posts) "woah, this movie blew my mind dude!" films in this era. I think Donnie Darko is on the higher end of this phenomenon. I think Cube, The Boondock Saints (somehow), Equilibrium, The Butterfly Effect and even the original Saw were part of this.

Still there was something nice about people discovering these films, even if they weren't that great. I feel the space for these kind of discussions is now taken up with debates about Rotten Tomato scores, The Last Jedi and Martin Scorsese's comments about Marvel.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #32 on: August 20, 2020, 12:44:19 PM »
Those are different conversations I think, one hasn't replaced the other... some films still hit a cultural touchstone (e.g. Parasite).

And for all the arguments over Scorsese vs Marvel, I've seen far more objectively better* films than the ones you've listed thanks to the internet that I wouldn't have otherwise.

*this seems really snooty, but I dunno, Butterfly Effect vs Run Lola Run vs Blind Chance.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #33 on: August 20, 2020, 12:56:24 PM »
I sort of feel like audiences rallying behind films that weren't hyped by either marketing or critics has kind of gone away now though. I could be wrong, but it feels like it's seen as too big of a social faux-pas to like a film which doesn't get above a certain percentage on Rotten Tomatoes. (Not that Donnie Darko really applies here as it was a big critical hit before it became popular).

Puce Moment

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2020, 01:34:15 PM »
I remember liking this, but hating the idea that this mysterious creature from another dimension was actually just some div in a halloween costume that he made himself. I mean, it's a stroke of luck that the bloke who lives in Donnie's town and goes to his school made a costume that looks other-worldly and cinematic to improve the uncanny aura.

What if he had made an Ali G costume?

icehaven

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #35 on: August 20, 2020, 01:48:04 PM »
I absolutely loved it when I first saw it nearly 20 years ago (in the perfect setting of a near deserted midnight Halloween film showing at my Uni) and have watched it a million times since, and while I think it's probably best appreciated when you're under 25, I still love it.
I've never seen the director's cut but my head fell off when I learned The Killing Moon wasn't the first, obvious and only choice for the intro, and then it fell off again when I learned he'd wanted INXS, no no no no no.

I didn't realise at the time but 9/11 nearly buried it, and was the reason it only got a limited release in the US and wasn't released worldwide for another year (must have been Halloween 2002 when my uni showed it). Fair doos, no one would have wanted to attempt to plug a film centred around a plane crash in October 2001.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2020, 01:58:37 PM by icehaven »

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #36 on: August 20, 2020, 06:54:50 PM »
Shit

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #37 on: August 20, 2020, 07:07:51 PM »
Mort can't wait for best movies of whenever the fuck this come out

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #38 on: August 20, 2020, 08:39:29 PM »
I watched this again recently and think it still holds up. It isn't especially clever, just enigmatic. It sets and maintains a nice mood. I think it works on an emotional rather than intellectual level, and on those terms knowing the full explanation of what happened ruins the film a bit. If you ignore that though I think it is still good.

I think Richard Kelly is a really good director that should either get someone else to write his scripts for him and drop the auteur shit, or at least get someone in to knock them into some sort of coherence. As fun as Southland Tales is, it would be fucking amazing if someone had tempered the extremes a bit

pigamus

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #39 on: August 20, 2020, 09:03:18 PM »
Only thing I know is that every charity shop in Britain used to have at least two copies on DVD. Dunno if that still holds true.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #40 on: August 20, 2020, 09:12:53 PM »
I watched this again recently and think it still holds up. It isn't especially clever, just enigmatic. It sets and maintains a nice mood. I think it works on an emotional rather than intellectual level, and on those terms knowing the full explanation of what happened ruins the film a bit. If you ignore that though I think it is still good.

Yes, I pretty much agree with that. The Director's Cut was clearly Richard Kelly reacting to people saying the film was incomprehensible or didn't make sense, to the point where he pretty much just throws up slides from the Roberta Sparrow book at various points.

I like the mood a lot, and it's played quite confidently from such a young filmmaker. That weird family dinner scene at the start - I still know that dialogue off by heart - and each of those characters feel very lived-in, even if they don't factor into the plot too much. I really liked Maggie Gyllenhaal's permanent sarcastic grin, and the mum forever nursing a glass of wine. Holmes Osborne's dad character is great too, as if he's always a cheeky beer deep. I've no idea what they did with the younger sister (Samantha) in the unofficial sequel "S. Darko", but I'm not sure I want to know.

touchingcloth

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #41 on: August 20, 2020, 09:47:52 PM »
Yes, I pretty much agree with that. The Director's Cut was clearly Richard Kelly reacting to people saying the film was incomprehensible or didn't make sense, to the point where he pretty much just throws up slides from the Roberta Sparrow book at various points.

I like the mood a lot, and it's played quite confidently from such a young filmmaker. That weird family dinner scene at the start - I still know that dialogue off by heart - and each of those characters feel very lived-in, even if they don't factor into the plot too much. I really liked Maggie Gyllenhaal's permanent sarcastic grin, and the mum forever nursing a glass of wine. Holmes Osborne's dad character is great too, as if he's always a cheeky beer deep. I've no idea what they did with the younger sister (Samantha) in the unofficial sequel "S. Darko", but I'm not sure I want to know.

I remember that dinner scene as well, and for some reason I remember a short scene of his dad watching presidential debates on TV, because I think they were the first time I’d heard the names “Noriega” or “Dukakis”.

I think that shows a reasonably talented writer, and then things like the Smurfette scene make you realise he’s also a young one trying a bit too hard, and probably fancying himself the next Tarantino. The dropping in of Graham Greene is quite conspicuously pretentious in hindsight, but as a 14 year old I looked up and read The Destructors, so I guess he knew his audience.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #42 on: August 20, 2020, 10:09:40 PM »
I think that shows a reasonably talented writer, and then things like the Smurfette scene make you realise he’s also a young one trying a bit too hard, and probably fancying himself the next Tarantino. The dropping in of Graham Greene is quite conspicuously pretentious in hindsight, but as a 14 year old I looked up and read The Destructors, so I guess he knew his audience.

Yeah, the Smurfette bit is embarrasing now, though it reminded me more of Kevin Smith than Tarantino (Smith and Kelly later became friends, teaming up for the commentary on the DD Director's Cut DVD, which wasn't very good).

I still don't fully understand the hows-and-whens of how the film came to be. A young writer/director with no obvious connections has a weird sci-fi script; somehow Drew Barrymore gets attached, somehow he's allowed to direct it himself, and somehow it spawns the careers of the Gyllenhaal siblings (heirs to a throne, but otherwise unremarkable in Hollywood at the time).

Did anyone have anything good to say about his follow-up efforts? I seem to remember some people retrospectively liking Southland Tales, though I thought it was an absolute shiter and have no desire to revisit it.

chveik

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #43 on: August 20, 2020, 10:17:18 PM »
apart from the musical scenes, it's pretty boring for such a supposedly batshit film

Moribunderast

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #44 on: August 21, 2020, 01:28:34 AM »
Like a few others in this thread, I was the perfect age and mindset for when this film came out and I fucking adored it. Was 16, a stoner, watched lots of films and was starting to get into stuff like Brazil and other "weird" films. I loved the atmosphere the film created, loved the vague story, the music, the performances. I remember the Director's Commentary had a Darkomentary thing - a mockumentary made by a "super-fan" that me and my best mate found absolutely hysterical yet I'm certain it was only funny if you were as hardcore into Darko and the "lore" as we were at the time.

I've long suspected it probably wouldn't hold up to a re-watch with hardened adult eyes so I've avoided doing so. Leave the memories alone. I reckon some of the performances would have aged well though. I remember particularly thinking Maggie G, the Sparkle Motion lady and Darko's Mum were really excellent. There was a scene with the parents talking to Donnie's shrink that I thought was beautifully performed. I also still quote that "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!" on occasion. It really is a wonderful line, hilariously delivered.

Some in this thread have given good reasons as to why this film hit so big with a certain demographic but I also have to say it owes a lot to it's soundtrack. I'd be pushed to find a film that gains so much from it's final song (in terms of the initial impact for the viewer, bearing in mind the viewer was often a teenager) and the original opening song is perfect, even if it wasn't the director's choice. Musically, the film opens and closes about as strong as a film can and I think that added a lot to people's opinion of the movie as a whole because you remember it having a great opening sequence and then an emotionally-impactful ending.

As for the Director's Cut, I think that was the first warning sign that Richard Kelly had gotten somewhat lucky as opposed to being a visionary who would go onto great things in the future. The music changes, as noted, were awful and the additional scenes ruined the pacing of the film AND made it too hand-holdy. I tried to watch Southland Tales when it came out, as I was still a big Darko fan, but I think I got half-an-hour in before turning it off. Was boring AND stupid. And also had the ultra-indulgent thing where there were comic books (released online) beforehand that were meant to explain the story/setting and I remember at the time thinking, "Wait, you have a 150-minute film and you need online comics as a table-setter for the plot?" Another warning sign.

I thought Kelly's premise for Knowing seemed great and was excited for that but it seemed to get taken out of his hands and eventually became a very poor Nicolas Cage film. Kelly isn't even credited as a writer so I'm assuming it got totally re-worked. Fuck knows if his version would have been good but I would have liked to see the attempt.

I'd still like to see what Kelly would make now with another chance. It'd be good if he could get another movie or two greenlit. They'd likely be spectacular failures but I'd take an ambitious failure (See Aranofsky's: The Fountain) than a lot of the mundane shit that gets made (see Aranofsky's: Noah).

Did anyone other than me watch S Darko? Jesus wept. After ten minutes I started watching it in double-speed and then eventually in pure fast-forward. I read an interview with Kelly where he seemed furious about it's existence and he has every right to be. Even if Donnie Darko hasn't aged well it at least hit it's mark at the time. S Darko was one of the emptiest, most depressing cash-grabs I've seen. And it didn't even make sense as a cash grab! "Let's make a sequel to an almost decade-old cult movie that never made that much money to begin with!"

icehaven

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #45 on: August 21, 2020, 12:38:38 PM »
It isn't especially clever, just enigmatic. It sets and maintains a nice mood. I think it works on an emotional rather than intellectual level...

Yeah I don't really get the criticisms that it's faux intelligent or not as clever as it thinks it is etc. I don't think it's even trying to be particularly clever, as you say it's more about the atmosphere of the whole film, and the time travel/philosophical stuff all contributes to that. I don't think the intention ever was for the audience to go away feeling they'd seen through the looking glass or learned any great truths, it was more just trying to grab your imagination by playing around with the notions of there being mysterious hidden depths to the world, put into a more typical story of a "troubled" teenager discovering this at the same time as trying to work himself out. If certain scenes are construed as pretentious or melodramatic then, well, it's mostly about teenagers and teenagers can be pretentious and melodramatic (so can adults but you know what I mean).

There's loads of funny moments too, the aforementioned family dinner and "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!", the principle's office scene after the love/fear axis bit, Donnie ripping into Swayze's character on stage etc. It's really not the po-faced pretentiousness-fest it's sometimes accused of being.   

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #46 on: August 21, 2020, 12:44:12 PM »

Much as I don't rate Donnie Darko, I have always said that every director has one half decent film in them, most have one genuinely good film in them, and a relatively large chunk has one masterpiece in them.  I'm sure there must be a few exceptions to that, but when you consider that even the likes of Uwe Boll, Ray Dennis Steckler, Godfrey Ho and Charles Band have managed to crank out stuff verging on quality... What I am willing to accept, and which you hinted at, is that a lot of these are cases of getting lucky/lightning in a bottle (Robin Hardy is the poster boy for that theory).

I think you're being a bit harsh on Knowing, though.  Granted it's hardly a high point of Cage's career, but amongst all of those quickies he was doing to pay off his tax bill, it's one of the better and more cerebral films.  But I don't think Kelly's involvement with it was ever anything other than director, and even then I don't think he ever got as far as having any creative involvement - the original script was done and being shopped around well before Kelly was attached, and I know he was among numerous other directors mentioned.

As for S Darko - yes.  For some reason I'll never be able to remember or fathom I bought the region 1 DVD.  Watched it once (all the way through in my defence) then gave it to a mate who is a big DD fan the next day.  He only watched it several years later and admitted he only managed about 25mins before switching it off and literally binning it, completely forgetting I'd given it to him (he made up for it by giving me his blu-ray of Long Arm of The Law 2).  I remember nothing about it, though, and haven't seen it again since.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #47 on: August 21, 2020, 01:01:29 PM »
To be honest I thought S. Darkowas OK, with decent production values for a 00s Direct to Video film, it was just completely pointless. I can see how it would be offensive to Kelly and superfans, but I've seen much worse.

And Donnie Darko sold a ton of DVDs and certainly had a lot of name recognition (and a loyal following) at the time. From a purely cynical business perspective from the outside it made more sense than, say, the two sequels to forgettable Wesley Snipes vehicle Art of War or 8mm 2 for example. 00s DTV was a Wild West of vaguely recognisable IP and\or names.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #48 on: August 21, 2020, 01:13:57 PM »
Donnie Darko is worth its existence just for introducing me to the phrase "why don't you go suck a fuck?", which I use regularly

How exactly does one suck a fuck?

touchingcloth

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #49 on: August 21, 2020, 07:01:14 PM »
Donnie Darko is worth its existence just for introducing me to the phrase "why don't you go suck a fuck?", which I use regularly

How exactly does one suck a fuck?

I was going to call that line out in my earlier response about the dinner/Smurfette scenes. Great lines, and I think Jake Gyllenhaal is one of those rarities of a serious actor who can handle comic moments.[1]
 1. He's great in John Mulaney's Sack Lunch Bunch.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #50 on: August 21, 2020, 09:19:42 PM »
There's loads of funny moments too, the aforementioned family dinner and "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!", the principle's office scene after the love/fear axis bit, Donnie ripping into Swayze's character on stage etc. It's really not the po-faced pretentiousness-fest it's sometimes accused of being.

Yeah, it's far less pretentious than a lot of "indie films" we've seen since, and occasionally very irreverent and funny. Some of the lines were funny enough to make my parents laugh, especially the smug delivery of "I think we've all seen Bonanza" when Kitty's asked if she knows who Graham Greene is. A joke for the boomers, there.

I think some of the science and anti-authority stuff might seem pretentious now because it is reminiscent of the kind of stuff teenagers are impressed by ... but it's told from a teenager's perspective and is, in many ways, about being a precocious teenager, so why wouldn't that be in there? I understand the gut cringe reaction because I have it too, now, but it's not too much worse than reading Catcher In The Rye as a "grown-up". As far as movies go, in some regards it's more mature than similar teen/college angst films of the time - like Thumbsucker, American Beauty or many of Richard Linklater's movies (though I think the latter have better stood the test of time, for whatever reason), and I think it's pretty confident and inventive with its genre pulls.

I dunno, am I starting to think it's "Good" rather than "Shit"? Therein lies the confusion.

touchingcloth

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #51 on: August 21, 2020, 09:51:55 PM »
I come down on the side of “shit”, but good natured and fairly well executed shit. I can’t help but compare it to Bueller and Breakfast Club, neither of which make me cringe. Darko is just a bit too cringe, perhaps because it only went half in on the dialogue which makes Hughes’ films strong, and sacrificed it for some hand-wavey time travel wank. It feels like it would have stood the test of time better if, say, Donnie was simply mentally ill.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #52 on: August 21, 2020, 10:36:42 PM »
It's a shame the visual effects were so crap, especially when it came to the "paths" emanating from people's chests. Falls on the wrong side of endearing. That's not aged well at all.

Did anyone see the deleted/alternate scene showing Donnie impaled by the debris from the crash? I think it was only on the Director's Cut DVD - horrible, and the fact it was filmed (at some cost) also suggests that Kelly maybe wasn't quite as confident in his vision as I'd thought.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #53 on: August 21, 2020, 10:47:16 PM »
I think it was only on the Director's Cut DVD

Included as a deleted scene on most DVD and blu releases.  I watched it once.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #54 on: August 21, 2020, 11:07:57 PM »
Included as a deleted scene on most DVD and blu releases.  I watched it once.

I'm not sure what it was that bothered me so much about it, but seeing it (low-res/pre-grade as it was) really soured my opinion on the whole film. Just a terrible idea.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #55 on: August 21, 2020, 11:11:45 PM »
It wasn't done particularly well either which, IIRC, is why it was taken out.

touchingcloth

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #56 on: August 21, 2020, 11:14:39 PM »
It looked crap, like something from a poor man’s debauched Home Alone.

Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #57 on: August 21, 2020, 11:15:42 PM »
the Blair Witch Project is the scariest film ever made. i never get scared by cinema, ever, but that one....have to get that off my chest this thread is infuriating. i will never get those who were unaffected by the film. it was never meant to be a phenomenon, marketed through the wrong box.

Donnie Darko i read about this film in defunct  Total film magazine about 2 years before it was released in the UK, remember being intrigued. i think it premiered at Sundance 2001 came out in late 2002 here. so long time.
disappointed when i watched it never got the reaction to it.
however did remember really liking the atmosphere but didnt have clue what the fck was going on. 
and the soundtrack was brilliant, Echo and the Bunnmymen, Duran Duran, INXS.


Zetetic

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #58 on: August 22, 2020, 12:17:44 AM »
I remember a short scene of his dad watching presidential debates on TV
This and the rabbit mask are the only visuals and close to the only things at all that I can remember from the film, which feels slightly odd.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Donnie Darko: Good or Shit? (A Retrospective)
« Reply #59 on: August 22, 2020, 12:26:07 AM »
the Blair Witch Project is the scariest film ever made. i never get scared by cinema, ever, but that one....have to get that off my chest this thread is infuriating. i will never get those who were unaffected by the film. it was never meant to be a phenomenon, marketed through the wrong box.

It bored the absolute shit out of me and I'll reiterate I saw it LONG before it became a phenomenon.  It was no different when I did finally see it on the big screen (at which there were a couple of walkouts, but not Americans throwing up in the aisles and running out screaming, but stuffy Brits annoyed that they'd forked out a whole £2 on a Tuesday for it).

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