Why is DONNIE DARKO so popular? (includes DIRECTOR's CUT disc.)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Jim Williams, Mar 5, 2004.

  1. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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    I noticed that in last years DVD ETC top 100, Donnie Darko was listed as one of the top 100 and on the IMDB it is given an 8.3. Even now it is one of the top 10 in DVD sales according to Yahoo for this week. What is it about this DVD that gives it it's wide appeal?

    Edit:
    PS I haven't seen it yet so no spoilers please.
     
  2. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Why are you asking such things before watching it? Just watch the darn thing. [​IMG]

    I will say I didn't care for it as much as some people, but it was an intersting little flick and I'm looking forward to watching it again soon.
     
  3. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

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    I wondered the same thing until I watched it, then I understood! A little bizarre and a bit confusing at times, but the payoff is well worth it. Actually, I saw that "Mad World" (the theme song) hit #1 in England this past Christmas and many articles mentioned that it came from this film. The song is incredible (it's a remake of an old Tears For Fears song) and the video has clips from the movie so I rented it. I will never listen to that song in the same way again!
     
  4. Jake Johnson

    Jake Johnson Second Unit

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    Because it is really really good.
     
  5. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    I think it's a decent film....something a little bit different. But I don't think it is as great as many people on this and other forums make it out to be. To those that haven't seen it, it's worth a rental first before making a decision to buy.
     
  6. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Dude, Its worth a blind buy just for the good 'ol nightmare fuel visual that is "Frank". He gave me nightmares soooo many times it ain't funny.:b
     
  7. Anthony Clifton

    Anthony Clifton Stunt Coordinator

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    The time was 2001. The public's desire for Patrick Swayze as a pedophile was at a fever pitch. Mix that with Jacob's Ladder meets Magnolia for the Teen Beat set and you have pure Hollywood gold, my friend.
     
  8. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    Before I am accused of threadcrapping, I just want to say that what I'm about to point out has nothing to do with the quality of any of the movies in question, it's just an undeniable trend I've noticed. Here goes. The movie is the trend-of-the-moment. Recently, there's been a handful of movies embraced by the same geeky, "outsider" demographic of teens. There's a definite sequence to what this group latches onto. In each case they seem to think that they've discovered some hidden gem that only they and a small cult of like-minded film fans are "in on". This thread started with "The Matrix", continued with "Fight Club", and sort of divided upon itself with "Donnie Darko" and "Memento". Now, if you look at my DVD collection, you'll notice that "Donnie Darko" is the only one of these titles I don't own, but the trend itself is practically undeniable.
     
  9. jimbo w

    jimbo w Stunt Coordinator

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    Bought it blind and no regrets, heck only 10 bucks. Entertaining and rewatchable with a good soundtrack.
     
  10. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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    Bill, I understand what you are saying about so called cult movies, but I would hesitate to lump The Matrix, Fight Club and Memento strictly into the "cult" catagory. First of all The Matrix was a landmark film for it's time and IMHO worthy of the accolades it has received. (Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Reloaded and Revolutions, once again IMHO). I also feel that Memento was a landmark film in it's own way. It is true that the "end to beginning" vehicle has been used before in at least one other movie, but to me it was used with great imagination and drama in Memento. Memento is one of the few films that my wife has wanted to see a second time. Usually the only kind of movie that appeals to her is one like Ghost or Beaches. Fight Club was much more than it appeared on the surface. Fight Club is a movie about a man who fights to discover his real self. It irks me that stores like Best Buy put Fight Club in the Action section instead of the Drama section where I think it belongs.

    This has gotten off topic however. I asked about Donnie Darko because I do like offbeat movies and I do value the opinions of the members of this forum. Perhaps I should just watch it instead of asking about it because Brazil and Eraserhead both get raves from many people, but I found them both to be practically unwatchable. One man's trash is another man's treasure I guess.
     
  11. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    Donnie Darko == good, original movie. Simple as that, really.

    (dvd is packed (packed!) with extras...if you have $9.99 lying around that you're not using, head to Best Buy and pick up a copy)
     
  12. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Two reasons
    1. Word of mouth
    2. The film's own merits
     
  13. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    There is a HUGE fault here, you totally discount film quality.

    I imagine you sitting around the bar in 1981 saying "I see a trend here, if you glamorize and glorify violent criminal types you get a cult following of male cinemaphiles proclaiming your film is the greatest thing ever, just look at Godfather 1,2, Taxi Driver, Scarface, and Mean Streets and how popular they are."


    When I saw Memento I had only heard 1 or 2 good things about it since it was still in limited release. I loved it and had to see it again. Fight Club I was actually against when I saw early trailers because I thought it was about what it ended up mocking it turns out. But after taking a chance at the theater I again was blown away and was dragging my wife to see it too (she loved it as well).

    Donnie Darko was one I skipped at the theater because I had just seen Devil's Backbone and I thought, incorrectly, that it was similar and I was burned out on that idea. But by 1 or 2 recommendations I rented the DVD and was so blown away I decided to watch it again that night.

    IMO, it's just interesting, quality filmmaking, not the target audience.


    There are PLENTY of male outsider/geek angst films out there that bomb, and frankly I'm not sure I would place Fight Club, Memento and Donnie Darko in that arena. Neither would I say that they are loved only because it's "cool" to love them.

    All 3 of those films have something in common in my life, they are films that friends will come up and recommend to me, or more likely ask me if I've seen because they know I'm into film. It just seems cultish because great SMALL films have to find their audience in this manner.

    Had these films had better backing (well, FC sort of did but was marketed a little incorrectly) then people wouldn't have to find them.

    Reminds me of "finding" Resevoir Dogs on VHS back in 93 because my roommate said Ebert gave it a good review. A typical example of a very small film catching you off guard with how good it is.


    Matrix??? Have you seen the box office numbers for that film? No, its not Reloaded numbers but it didn't tank either. It was never a SMALL film that people could feel "in on". It was a huge SF hit that only grew bigger on DVD, just like Austin Powers did as a comedy.

    And that's because Joe 6 isn't as adventurous as cinephiles, which you would expect in any special interest area. Joe 6 is quite naturally going to end up discovering a lot of these lesser known good films later....that doesn't make it a cult film.

    A cult film is one that doesn't really spread well because it only works for a limited audience, but that audience loves it. Donnie Darko may be quirky but it's like to dislike ratio is through the roof as far as my experience has been, enough that I'm not in the least bit surprised when another person pops up and says "man, that film was great".


    I can think of a very specific similar example...Dazed and Confused. That film comes closest to having the same growing positive appeal with just about everyone that comes in contact with it. For most people I would say that Donnie Darko is just as rewarding a film experience, though its certainly not the same genre at all.
     
  14. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    No, I'm not saying the four movies I listed are the only four cult movies. I'm saying that practically the exact same fanbase has "migrated" from one to another to another in a short period of time. That's not to say that everyone who's ever seen and enjoyed them has is one of these people, but the group I'm referring to, in my opinion, is more into the prestige of something different and unusual than the actual merits of the films themselves. Basically, what I'm saying is this: there *ARE* definitely people who enjoy the films for what they are, but there's a distinct group who are essentially posers trying to be unique.
     
  15. andrew markworthy

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    So to summarise: it's worth seeing, but the level of enthusiasm you'll have for it will largely depend upon your specific age and cultural cohort. It thus joins other 'mainstream cult' movies like Pulp Fiction, The Matrix etc.
     
  16. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    It's an entertaining film that also leaves a lot for the audience to figure out for themselves. It's funny, creepy, and quirky (my favorite description of the movie is that it's the bizarro universe twin of Back to the Future) and people have a good time while watching it even as they realize that they're not entirely sure what's it about, so they get to talk about it a lot after the show. And then they watch it again a few times to see if their theories about the movie hold up. Unless they're lazy viewers and just like to revel in the movie "because it's, like...like - it's just so fucked up, man! The dude who made it must have been like totally on drugs and shit!" [​IMG] (I wonder if this is the kind of person that Bill is actually referring to?)
     
  17. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I was fortunate to attend a screening of this film in June 2003, and Richard Kelly (the director) was in attendance, and he did some Q&A after the film. It was pretty cool to see a film with the director at the same screening and then listen to the Q&A between him and the audience members.

    Here's the link to my post in the longer-running Donnie Darko thread regarding the Kelly Q&A session (But the thread and the post are full of spoilers, so don't go reading until you've seen the film and wanted to read other people's reactions and theories about the film).
     
  18. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Its interesting, imaginative, funny, clever and entertaining
     
  19. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    Interesting to note. A director's cut version is set to hit theaters this spring. The music is also going to be different (more pop music that they couldn't afford the first time around.

    www.gorezone.net reported this a while ago, but I never heard anything else about it...
     
  20. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    It's essentially a Christ story. And those play big with audiences, as The Passion will attest.

    But it's also one of the most original films in that year. I enjoyed it, though the secondary character could occasionally be a bit thinly drawn.
     

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