Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Just checking in quickly to bring your attention to a paradigm-shifting film that I saw over the weekend.

It isn't out here yet, and doesn't show up on any release schedules that I'm aware of, but you really should keep your eyes peeled for the debut feature from youthful cult director-in-waiting, Richard Kelly.

"Donnie Darko" is a film which could very easily insinuate itself into your brain after viewing it and remain there for weeks and months afterwards. Jake Gyllenhall stars in the title role and gives a performance which ranks up there with Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange" and Christian Slater in "Heathers" as one of the more memorable and remarkable depictions of troubled adolescence on screen. He's supported by an amazing cast which includes Jena Malone (You may remember her as the young Jodie Foster in "Contact"), Mary McDonnell, "ER"'s Noah Wyle and cameoing executive producer, Drew Barrymore, who deserves much praise for taking the gamble to help bring a film as strange, beautiful and willfully uncommercial as this to the screen.

20th Century Fox have just released this 1980's surburban satire/SF Time-travel fable/Family drama on DVD in the States and it's evident that they didn't have a clue what to do with it - The cover suggests a teen slasher flick along the lines of "Urban Legend" or "Final Destination", which is so far removed from what "Donnie Darko" actually is that it beggars belief (Any unsuspecting 13-year-old gorehounds renting this flick are going to end up even more troubled and disenfranchised than they already are).

A far more accurate comparison is "Twelve Monkeys" or the quietly baffling end of "2001". With a romantic sub-plot which plays like a parallel universe version of a John Hughes flick. And it's also reminiscent of a classic early-80s teen-angst flick like "Over The Edge". But much stranger. Think "River's Edge", minus the ranting insanity of Dennis Hopper. And Crispin Glover.

Suffice is to say that "Donnie Darko" will mess with your head, introduce you to some very fine new actors and heralds the arrival of a remarkably original new filmmaking voice. What's more, it's only £13.99 on Region One DVD, from those nice people at Play.com.

And you know what? In an stylishly Gothic, reassuringly expensive Directorial compound, somewhere in Los Angeles, Tim Burton is positively bricking it. Which can only be a good thing.

Joss Whedon would love "Donnie Darko". There can be no higher recommendation.

Patster Hiroprotovitch? He's off to the Fourth Dimension...

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