Thursday, 24 November 2011

Donnie Lighto

I haven't written anything on here for so long that I've developed Blog Fear. It's like when someone buys you a Moleskine notebook and it's so expensive and pretty, all you can think to write in it is Hemingway looked at the Chatwin. It was a damn good Chatwin. The last couple of sentences alone have taken me hours. Anyway, Donnie Darko being on after Film 2011 last night has motivated me to write a new post. I stayed up to watch the first 10 minutes as I wanted to check something that's bugged me for years. See, when I saw Donnie Darko in the cinema as a student, it began with Echo and the Bunnymen's only good song, 'Killing Moon' and I really, really liked that it did that. I think I even leant over to my ex-girlfriend and whispered, 'That's really clever because there's, like, A GIANT BUNNY MAN in the film!' And it's also a bit about killing.'

Let's back up a bit here. In the early 2000s, in what turned out to be the death throes of big department store media outlets, a lot of such shops started offering crazy deals on DVDs, like 8 for a tenner, etc. Maybe they still do, but I've never met anyone who's been into one of the (cockroach-tenacious) branches of HMV (which are mysteriously still occupying giant buildings with floorspace like car showrooms in all of our highstreets) in the last five years, and frankly I wouldn't trust anyone who had. So my household would take it in turns to take advantage of such offers, because it was actually cheaper than renting movies and if you didn't like them you could just take them to a charity shop the next day.

One phenomenon of which I am absolutely certain (although I am yet to find anyone who agrees, or who had a sufficiently advanced DVD habit in the early 2000s to say for sure) is that completely regardless of such special offers, any film which featured either Jake or Maggie Gyllenhaal retailed at £2.99. The price never went up or down from this - the price of a not especially lavish special coffee. You must have noticed, right, that everyone you know who still has a stack of DVDs in their living room ALL, whatever their taste, their age, and whatever else they like, ALL have a copy of Secretary and Donnie Darko in their collection. It's not just me who's noticed that, right? Even my gran had these movies. And the reason is that by some sinister decree, films starring Gyllenhals were to undercut the market by a minimum of a fiver. We would all go wandering through Virgin Megastore, past all of the Coldplay CDs and think, '£2.99?! Well, I didn't exactly love the film, but c'mon! It was good enough for £2.99! Even the fucking box is worth £2.99. £2.99 is cheaper than renting a movie.'

So anyway, I bought Donnie Darko, like every single other person who exists and was alive around then, some years after enjoying it in the cinema, made some microwave popcorn, put it on and was crestfallen (like, if you can imagine a crest falling off a wall) to discover that the film started with some other 80s song I didn't recognise. I was born in 81, so I'm at that awkward age where I still don't get most of the cultural referents the people 10 years older than me who actually make films and TV use. Ooh, I can't wait to do the same to people 10 years younger than me when I'm there. Sitcoms will be all Pogs and something else that happened in the 90s but I was too busy playing Pogs to notice.

So yes, back to being crestfallen: Had I just made up the whole 'Killing Moon' thing? Had I imagined it? I assumed, until last night, that I must have done. But after Film 2011 last night, after the dawn scene where Donnie Darko picks up his bike and rides back into his suburb, what should I hear but the ringing, jangly chords of Echo and the Bunnymen's 'Killing Moon'? Exactly that, is what I should and, indeed, did hear. I danced a jig with glee. Then I checked my DVD, which I hadn't prised out of the DVD holder for years and found 'DIRECTOR'S CUT' written in small, blue on slightly-darker-blue lettering under the title.

Which brings me to my point: what the fuck is with you, director of Donnie Darko? Are you some kind of film-ruining idiot? Why don't you just go to screenings of your own films and have loud mobile phone conversations over the top of them, instead of actually, genuinely ruining them for everyone forever?