Kaycee’s Klasic Films – Donnie Darko

Siobhan Kennedy-Clarke’s classic film reviews
Our fictitious reviewer Siobhan (KayCee) didn't have much of an education but she's passionate about films

This film deserves to be more popular than it is but in my humble opinion it has an image problem. If you look at the Wikipedia entry they call it a science fiction film but its not really it has a bit of pseudo sci-fi about it but it’s a comedy that takes the mickey out of horror films and sci-fi films if you ask me.

Secondly the main character Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is always referred to as “troubled” and you get the feeling he’s one of these spooky, scary kids who causes havoc but really he’s not. He’s a nice kid meets a nice girl and just happens to find weird things happening. The name doesn’t help either if he was Donnie Smith it would give a different impression.

Donnie is seeing a psychiatrist played by Katherine Ross looking like she’s spent too much time in the sun and she does the part pretty good.

Thirdly people talk about this giant rabbit that tells Donnie to do things which again makes him sound like a psycho and although there is a large rabbit type thing involved it is not made to look realistic or scary. That’s because this is a comedy like I said.

It also has similarities to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the way the acting is done particularly Donnie’s parents who are cool and don’t freak out about things like they might in other films. Jake’s sister Maggie Gyllenhaal plays his sister here and she’s good but kind of in second gear all the time because it’s not a big part. She’s quite sexy though I like her she’s done some good stuff and she was good here even as young as she was and her brother too she looked more like him in those days.

Seth Rogen is in it as one of the school bullies he’s a strange guy Seth I think he manages to be amusing but not funny funny whatever he does.

I suppose part of the Ferris thing is it’s set in a school and some of the teachers are funny and there’s pompous people for you to dislike especially this kind of goody goody played by Patrick Swayze who turns out to be into child pornography but again that’s not actually what the film is about.

Drew Barrymore is one of the teachers but she’s a good one I wouldn’t have thought she was old enough but time flies she’s not too bad in this not one of my faves usually.

“Weird? me?” Yes you, Donnie. It says so in my contract.

Like Ferris the soundtrack is full of British music Tears for Fears and Echo and the Bunnymen it seems American kids thought that sort of stuff was cooler than their own country was producing at the time well this was in 2001 so I don’t know really they use the strange slower version of Mad World not the TfF one.

It was supposed to be set in 1988 which is Bueller era I don’t know why they didn’t want it to be contemprey or whatever

The main sci-fi bit is people keep having these clear plastic things growing out of their chest like elongated bubbles and you get the Rabbit talking and giving the date and time of the end of the world but although the captions do a countdown of that its not scary or tense or nothing really. Just a device as they say and it has no baring on what happens I don’t reckon.

So just watch it as a fun film it’s well done well acted and all that stuff you only notice in a film when its not there the quality I mean.

 

 

 

 

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The wisdom of pop songs – Boredom

Boredom may not be exclusively the province of the young, but it’s young people who complain about it. As soon as we become old enough to give an assessment of life, we see it as disappointing. It should be more exciting. Why can’t I be James Bond or Spongebob? This town/village/capital city is a drag. Nothing to do.

This is reflected in pop songs, where although the acts we see associated with the boredom songs may be middle aged, elderly or dead by now, the songs they brought us came early in their career.

The Lovin’ Spoonful, making a long-overdue debut in this blog, sang mainly about young love and optimism. John Sebastian was that kind of guy, and he was mature for his years too. But when touring became a chore  he told us all about it in a song called Boredom.

Boredom: hanging by myself
In a bleak motel
Overnight in a small town

What happened to the groupies and marijuana, that’s what I want to know. Surely he wasn’t bored with them too.

Around the same time, the late 60s, The Statler Brothers had a minor one-off hit with Flowers on the Wall, in which a rejected boyfriend tells his cruel lover what it’s like being without her.

That sort of whingeing gets you nowhere, but try telling that to a lovesick fool – and we’ve all been that person.
In the 70s The Clash brought us I’m So Bored With The USA, which  was a punked-up version of the idle rich’s idea of boredom. They weren’t bored with the USA at all, just resentful of the country’s attitudes.

Morrissey, a far more suitable candidate to express this sort of thing, wrote and recorded one of his fascinating little slices of life in 1991 on the Kill Uncle album, the splendid first lines of which are

Your boyfriend he went down on one knee
Well could it be he’s only got one knee?

He then goes on to tell us about the obnoxious girl, including this:

I tried to surprise you, I crept up behind you
With a homeless Chihuahua
You cooed for an hour
Then handed him back and said “You’ll never guess,
I’m bored now”

You will note that these are not hugely commercial songs. Boredom is not a money-spinner.

American indie band The Eels droned spookily in the 1990s with Novocaine for the Soul, a typical tale of young disillusionment:

Guess whose living here
With the great undead
This paint-by-numbers life
Is f***ing with my head

All together, parents: Get out of that bedroom and wash my car!

The Pet Shop Boys, an act with dilettante tendencies, brought us Being Boring, a response to criticism by someone in Japan who didn’t think they were exciting enough for a band.

“Spokesman for a generation” Pete Townshend of The Who tackled the subject on their 1974 concept album Quadrophenia, which amounts to one long tale of woe for a young man let down by life. On the hit single 5:15, for instance,

Magically bored
On a quiet street corner
Free frustration
In our minds and our toes

Treatment in this case was administered in the form of drugs: amphetamines and barbiturates, as required.

The master of the yawning-in-his-silk-dressing-gown approach was a much earlier songwriting genius, Cole Porter, who summed up the dinner-and-cocktails lifestyle of his 1930s contemporaries in I Get a Kick Out of You.

I get no kick from champagne
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all

Some versions (and there have been many, from Frank Sinatra in 1954 to the 1970s’ Gary Shearston) include cocaine on the list of things that fail to get the singer going. Ho hum, what is to be done with these people?

A more circumspect view came from Jethro Tull on their second album, 1969’s Stand Up, and the song Back to the Family, where songwriter Ian Anderson sings about a character not unlike himself, under pressure with work in London and retreating to the his home in the country, where he immediately misses the buzz of the city.

Rod Stewart had a good idea when he was bored in 1972: write to an old flame, a few years your senior, and try to rekindle some action. You Wear It Well may have been a thinly-veiled retread of Maggie May, but it lolloped along with a sort of lonely swagger.

The Rolling Stones in the late 60s had taken the  drug-treatment line on Mother’s Little Helper, the bored housewife resorting to some chemical assistance from “a little yellow pill”.

The problem was still also in the 80s, as Tears for Fears with Mad World, a simmering stew of disappointment, tedium and desperation. And as for the 21st century, well… yawn… I don’t know if I can be bothered. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz