go see donnie darko

Donnie Darko is being re-released this month to theaters. You must see it.

I only saw this movie on DVD a few months ago after ages of having it pressed into my hands by earnest friends who insisted that I must see it. Apparently the movie was released a few years ago but promptly vanished from theaters (a plane crash plays a prominent role in the film, which in late 2001 wasn’t exactly marketable), but now has caught on mostly because people keep pressing the DVD into their friends’ hands and insist that they must see it.

Donnie Darko is one of those is-he-insane-or-is-the-world-going-all-to-hell stories, except its a really good example of that genre. It is a deeply creepy movie, with giant demon bunnies and time travel and strange liquid metal tentacles that extrude from people’s chests. The entire film seems to be shot in deep blues and grays and feels kind of strange and hallucinatory (even when there aren’t actual hallucinations involved). But that the same time its very funny and dark and sarcastic. It tries to be kind of science fictiony but don’t go looking for hard SF here.

The biggest problem with the original movie is that there are a lot of gaps in the plot and open-ended questions, so in many places it just doesn’t make any sense. In some ways that makes it more fun — the open-endedness makes it even more mysterious — but in other ways its just frustrating. The deleted scenes and commentary on the DVD helped clear up a bunch of confusing bits, and from what I understand this new release — the director’s cut — will clear up the ambiguity more. Which is good. Go see it.

If you’re into bizarro nonlinear artsy-creative “screw you Jakob Neilsen” flash-based web-sites you’ll love the web site for the film (although you’ll need to see the movie to go very far; it requires a basic knowledge of character and place names).

And here’s a good analysis/review of the original film as well from Locus Mag, although there are copious spoilers here and part of the fun of the film is its plot twists so I AM WARNING YOU don’t read that last link unless you have already seen it or you don’t care about being spoiled.

Update: I wasn’t paying attention but Salon also has a very in-depth analysis of the movie including a discussion of the stuff in the new version. Again, very spoileriffic. Requires a subscription or watch an ad to get a day pass.