May 18, 2012

To his girlfriend...


45 comments:

  1. Not sure this deserves an "it's true" tag. You can have absolutely no idea what something is about but still declare it genius - genius because of the way it entertains, challenges, provokes, or makes you think in new and interesting ways.

    I've just been to see Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach - a five hour opera with no storyline. I've no idea what it's about, but it's fucking genius for those exact reasons.

    I'm not saying any of these necessarily apply to Donnie Darko, though I do like the film.

    (Should I be thinking this hard about an OVC strip?)

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  2. I actually agree to an extent in regards to this. Donnie Darko is one of those movies that people need to tell you how genius it is for you to think that it's genius. It's like the writers coming out of the screen grabbing you by the collar and pressing your face to the television while screaming "LOOK AT WHAT A FUCKING DARK WEIRD GENIUS I AM!!!!"

    And quite honestly, this isn't the only thing I feel this way about.

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  3. Anti-Hipster5/18/2012 11:00 AM

    I agree with the man in the cartoon and disagree with jnthn.

    Being "alternative" does not mean something is "genius". A five hour long opera with no storyline does not sound genius to me, and neither was Donnie Darko. DD was not groundbreaking at all and did not present anything new or appeal to me on any level. Some genuinely did and I respect that, but a lot of people just want to be a part of the "crowd".

    I do agree that if you can't explain why something is 'genius' than you shouldn't be calling it such. And no, just because Donnie is on anti-depressants too doesn't make it a genius film

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    1. I didn't realise there was this whole 'anti-hipster' antipathy towards Donnie Darko - to me it's just a film I saw in uni, about 8/9 years ago, that was pretty decent.

      But my point wasn't really about whether DD was genius or not, just that you don't have to be able to explain what something was about to say why it's genius. cf. (at least some of) the films of David Lynch - where I find attempts at explanation to be actually detrimental.

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  4. Just because you can't explain why something is genius it doesn't mean that it isn't. It only means that YOU are not a genius.

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    1. If one isn't a genius how can one appreciate genius?

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    2. We can't appreciate Einstein or Mozart?

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    3. We can. Can you explain why what they accomplished is genius?

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    4. By the same token, just because something's genius doesn't mean there doesn't come a time where you should shut up about it.

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    5. > It only means that YOU are not a genius.
      It also means you are not qualified to determine if the work is genius or not.

      If NOBODY can explain why a work is "genius", it isn't. Not everybody understands relativity, but some people do, and they all agree it's a work of genius, so it probably is. In contrast, despite all their acclaim, nobody can explain why Donnie Darko or Finnegan's Wake are works of genius, so they probably aren't.

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    6. @1:03 Anon: That sounds less like "if nobody can explain why something's genuis, then it's not genius," so much as it "art is much more subjective than science, so art can't be genius." I mean, I have a friend who did his dissertation on Finnegan's Wake, and he can certainly explain why (he thinks) it's genius, to the point where he seriously needs to start following 12:08 Anon's advice. And if you say, "Well, that's just one dude's opinion" (discounting, of course, all the other scholarship on the novel), then you're pretty much setting a bar for "genius" that no art can clear.

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    7. Anon@1:03, by that token then you're not qualified to critque a book if you're not a writer, a film if you're not a director, or a portrait if you're not an artist. So why bother?

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    8. It's about a guy who avoids a mysterious accident, meets a girl, and does a bunch of odd things that ultimately lead to her death, but along the way he learns what he needs to learn in order to cause the accident in the past and stop himself from avoiding it. He dies, she lives. He wasn't the bunnyman. He intentionally caused the accident. The bunnyman warned him about that timeline ending, not about the plane.

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    9. @2:25 Anon:
      Successfully explaining a work as genius requires being able to get the audience to understand your explanation. If they disagree or if the come away with no more than: "it's genius because so-and-so says so," then you have not successfully explained it, and it probably isn't a work of genius. So it's not really as subjective as you think.

      @2:43 Anon:
      I'm not a physicist, but I understand and can explain relativity. I am not an artist, but I can explain why some works of Salvador Dali were pure genius (though by no means everything he did). You don't have the be able to reproduce a work on your own to be able to understand it or explain its brilliance to others. In fact, if the average person CAN easily reproduce a work, then it pretty much isn't genius by definition.

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  5. Donnie Darko is a polarizing movie, mainly because it perfectly portrays how an extremely pretentious sub-group of people see themselves and life. I love the movie, but it is extremely complex and hard to pin down. Trying to describe it can be a bit hard because it's about so many things, and can affect you in any number of ways. What makes art do the things it does? If it weren't different for everyone, it wouldn't be art. I love many different operas because of the way they make me feel when I hear them... and I don't speak any Italian. Does that make them less brilliant? I don't think so.

    By the way, you don't have to be a genius to appreciate it. Isn't that like saying you have to be tall to appreciate being tall? You'll never understand it as completely as a tall person, but you can still wish you could reach the top shelf and understand the reason it would be a good thing. The fact that I recognize my shortcomings (I am assuredly not a genius) only makes me appreciate those who are all the more.

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    1. "extremely complex"
      No it isn't. Thesandwich summarised the entire plot below. It's only interesting because it's an unusual combination of a coming-of-age teen drama and a sci-fi time travel movie. Set in the 1980s for some reason.

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    2. MasterOfMagnet5/18/2012 2:31 PM

      It's definitely polarizing, though. I like it for pretty much the reason you described (though I can take or leave the '80s setting), but whenever I try to explain that I like it a lot but don't find it particularly groundbreaking, they'll either say "Only pretentious douches like that movie, you pretentious douche," or "You can't REALLY like it, because you don't see how DEEP and COMPLEX it is!" Ugh.

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    3. MasterOfMagnet5/18/2012 2:33 PM

      And by "you," I mean 1:33 Anonymous. Stupid one-level comment threading, grumble mumble.

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    4. Yeah, this movie does cause endless amounts of trolling in both directions. People are crazy. And @Anon above, I didn't say the plot was complex, although I certainly wouldn't say it's easy for people who aren't used to the genre. It's complex because there are miles of subtext and meaning inside the movie itself.

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  6. The movie made much more sense if you read the secret book hidden in the ARG puzzle game website that came out at the time of the theatrical release.
    It's sad, but I'm dead serious.

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    1. And THAT is why I think Donnie Darko is not a good movie. The time loop/paradox is easy enough to understand, but you need the background from the external material to understand it. My friends that don't watch/read much science fiction tend to like the movie, but those that do watch/read SF don't like it.

      SPOILER (for a decade old movie)

      To me it's bad story telling/movie making in that external data needs to be introduced to explain the paradox of the accident happening because Donnie chooses a path, yet the plane engine is never pulled back in time once he makes that choice. So, the engine is spontaneously created? Is there an alternate reality? Nope, read the bonus material.

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  7. I fell asleep towards the end. Got my friend to explain it to me when I woke up. I guess it's about a guy who dresses up like a bunny to travel back in time and warn himself about an upcoming plane crash but inadvertently causes the events he's warning against to happen and in doing so traps himself in a temporal loop. Doesn't sound too hard to explain really. Pretty straightforward by the standards of these things.

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    1. ^^THIS^^ Also, DD is more of a character study than a standard action-plot shoot-em-up. In DD, the plot is really less important than the characters themselves.

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    2. Actually, wumpus's description is more accurate. Donnie Darko is not the bunnyman, the bunnyman is someone else.

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  8. Brad the Dad5/18/2012 2:51 PM

    I saw the theatrical version on DVD and really liked the movie. Then I saw the director's cut and didn't like it nearly as much. I thought there was way too much overexplaining in the director's cut--I'm not claiming to be a genius, but I didn't have any trouble following the story in the theatrical version. I should say, too, I'm probably the only person on the planet who liked Southland Tales (though I had to watch it in installments).

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    1. I enjoyed Southland Tales once I realized I wasn't supposed to be taking it completely seriously. Also because I've seen Repo Man enough times to see how they were working with it as a template.

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  9. yes. this does deserve an "it's true" tag.

    and that's all i gotta say on the subject.

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  10. The guy in the pic isn't saying the movie isn't genius because his girlfriend can't explain why it's genius. He's just saying SHE should stop calling it genius if she has no idea what the hell the movie's about. And it's true. If you can't even explain the basics of the plot (We already have one person here who managed to sum up the plot in terms way less complex than the actual movie, so this isn't a "genius defies explanation" scenario), but you still decide to call it "genius", chances are you don't really find it genius and you just want to look smart.

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  11. George Marchant5/18/2012 4:29 PM

    I actually loved Donnie Darko the first time I saw it, despite not really knowing what happened. I think it's okay to call something genius without understanding the genius, as long as you clarify that you don't understand the genius. I hate it when people clearly didn't understand something but make out like they do.

    I've seen it about 5 times since then and have managed to get a firm grip on what happened, it's kind of my own interpretation though. That's what's great about it, it's quite an open ended movie with lots of different explanations, all about as valid as each other. Well, that's the original cut.
    The DIRECTOR'S cut on the other hand is a completely different story. I haven't seen it myself but read an entire summary of the changes and some of it is crazy. A lot of the plot is explained in text crawl, telling us how Donnie is being guided by an alien race who are trying to fix a problem in the blah-dy blah by giving him certain powers along the way. It's pretty crazy and I doubt I'd enjoy it as much.

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  12. I happen to enjoy Donnie Darko and if you were to ask me what it is, I will answer with, "It's the ultimate emo movie." Think about it.

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  13. Look at all you geniuses and your intelligent debates. :P

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    1. I couldn't help seeing Condescending Wonka in my head when I read this comment.

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  14. Granted I don't know the tone of the conversation, but it seems like a lot of these guys are pretty big jerkbags to their girlfriends! Ladies, you can do so much better.

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  15. I like how all the comments are forgetting that calling a film genius is completely opinion. You can't argue opinion. Did I think it was genius? Doesn't matter. Nobody cares about my opinion.

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  16. Donnie Darko isnt the best or most groundbreaking movie ever made, but it is my favorite movie. I saw it at the right time in my life and years later, i watch it and still learn new things about it! This is what makes a movie good (or even genius) but if a movie speaks to you in a certain way then thats all that matters. also, yes, if you cant explain what a movies about, then you shouldnt praise It so highly. donnie darko? Its about an effed-up kid!

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    1. And, of course, time travel.

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  17. One could argue that the film's power to make people fall in love with it and become obsessed with it despite not even being able to explain what it's about is a sign of genius in its own right.

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  18. So many people commenting they don't understand this movie. This isn't me trying to lord it over anyone but I want to say I understand the movie and don't think it's incredibly complicated. Here it is in a nutshell if you don't really get it.

    The main themes are teenage angst and how the world and people in it can often be BS. Of course in real life teenage angst usually accompanies a realisation that things in the world are BS, so they go together well. Donnie feels frustrated with a lot of things in life, then is both empowered and shackled by gaining precognitive powers. He is empowered because he can expose some things, such as the awful truth about Patrick Swayze's character. He is contrained because he cannot alter what he will do next. This philosophical idea of predeterminism is married to the idea of being mentally disturbed, feeling like you have no control over your own actions. It's one of the more clever ideas the movie has.

    As for why Donnie has precognitive/time travel powers at all, it's because he's the main character and he's a teenager. That's really about as deep as it goes. Writer/Director Richard Kelly knows that teenagers are generally self-absorbed, and he's using time travel as a way to explore that. There is no root cause to the wormhole in the story - the wormhole was created because Donnie didn't die by the jet engine, which went through the wormhole. It's an ontological paradox, but hey it's time travel so why not?

    Donnie has been seeing visions of Frank because Frank, to him, will represent death when he runs over Gretchen. The movie just needed to equate precognition more with being mentally unbablanced and hearing voices, so it makes sense that it'll be something weird that causes destruction for Donnie at the end of the movie.

    The ending should be obvious. There's a circle creating that wormhole, so Donnie realises if he lets the jet engine kill him he will not have a chance to get screwed over by him (Except maybe the jet engine would still get ripped off in the future? Honestly, this stuff only makes dramatic sense and not literal sense.). Donnie uses his knowledge/power to get himself killed at the same time he has come to accept reality and fate.

    Oh, one more big important thing about Frank: There's a reason he's a rabbit (besides it being a creepy costume). It's because Richard Kelly has seen the movie Harvey starring James Stewart. No time travel there, but it's another case of a well-meaning man who may or may not be crazy.

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    1. "There's a reason he's a rabbit. It's because Richard Kelly has seen the movie Harvey starring James Stewart."

      That's the movie's biggest problem, that it so blatantly steals from other movies, usually for no good reason. The entire film of DD could probably be reconstructed from clips of those movies. It's an interesting story concept destroyed by inept filmmaking.

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    2. "The ending should be obvious. There's a circle creating that wormhole, so Donnie realises if he lets the jet engine kill him he will not have a chance to get screwed over by him (Except maybe the jet engine would still get ripped off in the future? Honestly, this stuff only makes dramatic sense and not literal sense.). Donnie uses his knowledge/power to get himself killed at the same time he has come to accept reality and fate."

      See, this, to me, is where the movie falls apart. If Donnie doesn't live to complete the actions that lead to the wormhole, then the engine never gets sucked back in time, thus Donnie lives and causes the wormhole. If he lives, then the wormhole exists and the engine gets sucked back in time, killing Donnie, then the wormhole DOESN'T open... etc.

      If there was some sort of explanation for the wormhole other than "Donnie is the center of that time loop/universe", then I wouldn't have an issue with it. But if there was another explanation, then the movie would have had less of a focus on teenagers being self-centered.

      Ugh.

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  19. It's about two and a half hours long. Wocka wocka!

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  20. Donnie Darko is full of teen angst, hence it's addictive quality (ever try to depress teenagers? It's like shooting fish, as the Simpsons say). All emotion and drama in our lives harks us back to our formative emotional experiences, many of which took place in our teen years. People watch movies like DD and are filled with the same chemical emotions they derive from those moment of their lives when they were hormone laden drama queens. And for those who don't know, emotions are addictive; why do you think people are so in love with gossip and drama? This is why people love and love to hate this film.
    It's not an original idea, nor is it complex and multi-layered, it's got no subtext. What do you really think the movie's about? Time-travel? Nope. Like most sci-fi the film is trying to make a point and like all art it does so by making you feel.
    I recommend not seeing it. If you've never seen it you can't get suckered into an argument about it.

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  21. I just found out about Southland Tales (made by the same guy) last night. If you thought Donnie Darko was convoluted, OH MAN.

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  22. I wouldn't say Donnie Darko is genius. I'm content to call it a beautiful and mysterious movie entirely unlike any other I have seen, with a story that seems surrealistic or schizophrenic until you find out it's following a set of well hidden rules all of its own and then it still doesn't make any sense, and with characters painted in fairly deep colors, and a nice meaty philosophical bent reminiscent of The Invisibles. Which incidentally is also great even if you can't tell for sure what happens at all times.

    "Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?" hehehe, oh man

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