Donnie Darko was one of those movies I'd heard about from people I respect, but never got around to actually watching until about five weeks ago.
About fifteen years ago, I watched a special about MST3K, which included an interview with Joel Hodgson. Joel said, "When we write our jokes, we don't ask ourselves, 'will anyone get this?' we say to ourselves, 'the right people will get this.'" That stuck with me, because I interpreted Joel's words as advice to go for the smart humor, or the obscure-but-rewarding-reference, rather than dumbing everything down so nobody feels left out.
So what does that have to do with Donnie Darko? I felt like the filmmakers didn't worry about making a blockbuster that would please everyone in the audience, and instead gave us a challenging, complex, dark and unique film, just like Joel and his gang weren't afraid to give us comedy that we didn't always get, but rewarded our intelligence when we did.
A couple of nights ago, I watched a movie which was recommended to me because I liked Donnie Darko so much, and I think a lot of WWdN readers would also like it. The film is called Primer.
It's the story of two friends who successfully build a time machine, what they do with it, and how they deal with the consequences. It was made for $7000, and won the Grad Jury and Alfred P. Sloan prizes at Sundance last year.
If you've seen Primer, please don't discuss specifics in comments (you know what I mean) because it could really trash the movie for everyone else.