Top 50 - #4 - Donnie Darko

This is a movie I really can't be objective about. Oh, of course, we can never judge a movie truly objectively - it's about taste, after all. All kinds of things factor in: what mood you were in when you watched the film, which films you'd seen before, your own life, even. Still, I'm usually able to take a step back and see a movie for what it is, even often understand why people would have a different opinion of it.

Not Donnie Darko though. You have to understand: this was my absolute favorite movie from ages 17 to 19. I must've forced more than a dozen people to watch it with me, and I don't think there's any movie I've seen more often. It's almost as if this movie's in my veins, even now that I'm no longer a true believer or fanatic. And I have absolutely no idea what I would think if I was able to watch it today for the first time.

I can't quite put my finger on what made this movie so perfect for me at that time. Part of it is definitely that Jake Gyllenhaal plays the ultimate misunderstood teen, both aloof, feeling infinitely more intelligent and interesting than his peers and at the same time much more vulnerable and sensitive than he wants to be, or will admit to being. Another big part is that - in the original version at least - this is a film that dares to trust its audience, to not explain too much, and at the time this made me feel majorly intelligent myself, of course.

I still think the movie stands up: there's a lot of first-timer show-offy camera moves, but they work, the tracking shot through the school especially. The dialogue is great. The plot is still fascinating after twenty times. And since I've managed to avoid listening to the director's commentary, the movie is for me still very much open to interpretation, and wonderfully ambiguous.

If I sound a little defensive, it's because I no longer think my adoration of this movie is justified. I do still think it's a movie that will stand the test of time, and will be loved by many troubled teens to come, and it's certainly not just for nostalgia's sake that it ranks this high.

Gretchen: My mom had to get a restraining order against my stepdad. He has emotional problems.
Donnie: Oh, I have those too! What kind of emotional problems does your dad have?

and let's not forget:

Gretchen: You're weird.
Donnie: Sorry.
Gretchen: No, that was a compliment.

Next up: a black and white movie from this decade about "the modern man", with bonus aliens and blackmail.


Vipin said...

Want some extra ordinary audio & video ringtones.

cjKennedy said...

There's something special about movies we fall in love with when we're in our teens. Not the popular movies everyone loves, but the ones we were drawn to when we first started to understand that there was more to a movie than 2 hours of entertainment.

Strangely for me I guess is that I was paying more attention to older movies than newer ones in my late teens. I can think of a handful of current releases that had an impact me, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover for example, but mainly I remember Rear Window and Dr. Strangelove and Harold and Maude. These are movies I don't think I could really even talk about objectively anymore.

Sorry to be a guess hog, but for #3 I'm going with The Man Who Wasn't There. I hope I'm right because I look forward to hearing what you say about it. I don't know enough people (not even Coen fans) who treasure that movie the way they should. If I'm wrong, well we'll just forget we ever had this conversation.