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Going to the "Darko" side

A month ago, I first glimpsed a movie that I need to see again, because I’m glad I saw it and have kept thinking about it and want to think more about it. The movie is a true cult film: 2001’s “Donnie Darko,” which I saw in its extended version. This entry includes most of what I wrote on a computer phorum that I, um, phrequent; I later talked about the experience with my cousin Amy Thompson “Maximy” Walsh, who turned out to be a regular visitor to the world of Donnie, Gretchen and, um, Frank the rabbit. She thought I’d like this…

[originally posted Sept. 12, 2004:]
Now THAT is a film that sticks in your head...

Recently, finally, I had my first exposure to the world of Donnie Darko, thanks to the director's cut playing for a week at Portland's Cinema 21. I was there opening night with a near-capacity crowd full of people vociferously enjoying the film, and I knew immediately upon watching the credits that I needed and wanted to see it again. The original awaits on DVD!

Darko hits a lot of, shall we say, pressure points of enjoyment for me: it has time travel (at least, maybe it does, heh heh), the ending is the beginning twisted back on itself, it has music I grew up with and still appreciate, it's about well-meaning, interesting and essentially happy people (I'd like to know the Darkos) dealing with something extraordinary, it does a good job of recreating its era... many things work. I was a Northern Virginia high school freshman in October 1988, and the film jibes with many memories I have of that time. And from a purely hormonal perspective, I certainly don't mind watching Drew Barrymore and Jena Malone, though it's disconcerting how young Malone looks as Gretchen. (She's 20 now yet can pass for a high schooler, so she was 17 when she made Darko and looked still younger than that...)

And, famously, it messes with your head, which I also appreciated. Maybe your mind goes "Tilt! I can't deal with this" more than once in the story, but you stick with it.