Thank You Very Much, Work!!!

*But no amount of labor can dull the razor wits of LAST WEEK'S REVIEWS:

Ironwolf (very early Howard Chaykin, very straight pulp)

The Drunk #1 (dropped out of the blue, somewhat decent monster biker mash)

We3 #2 (of 3), Frank Miller’s Robocop #7 (of 9), Adam Strange #2 (of 8), and Black Widow #2 (of 6) (featuring a whole lot of yapping about action comics flow)

Planetary #21

Babel Vol. 1 (really impressive new work from David B. that you should check out!)


*I'm getting hammered here. It's crazy busy. I don't have much time to spare, but I did see the Director's Cut of "Donnie Darko", which one of my local theaters booked, possibly due to the Halloween setting. I'm most interested in the fancy inter-titles used throughout the film, which serve to explain to the audience exactly what's going on in the film's sci-fi/fantasy corner. I found them to be kind of annoying, like writer/director Richard Kelly was trying to hold the audience by the hand and spell everything out in as direct language as possible. Only later (since I'd never seen the original cut) did I discover that the inter-titles were originally designed as extras for the initial dvd release of the film, and that the director liked them so much he decided to insert them into the film itself for this new extended version. I suppose there were some comprehension issues upon the original release? I know the film slowly became a cult hit, kind of a grassroots thing (as much as one can be grassroots with Drew Barrymore attached as an executive producer, that is). I don't know; I'm really fascinated by the film's dvd presentation melting into a later 'official' version of the film itself.

There was also a bunch of small scenes added in, plus a lot of tired eye dilation quick-cuts that looked like they were scraped up off the cutting room floor of "Requiem for a Dream". I kind of liked the movie; I really admired its willingness to mix genre without fear, and it looked really great for a movie that (in its original form, again) cost less than $5 million. Visually, it's just as good as any middle-road $20-40 million Hollywood thing. Maybe it was Jake Gyllenhaal that started getting to me; in some scenes he was perfectly fine, but in others (particularly near the beginning) his mumbling monotone seemed utterly wooden, and not in a realistically hazy way, in an Actorly way. And forget about his teeth-grinding baby voice and faux-sinister sneer when he's chatting with Mr. Flopsey or whatever the furry's name was. Or maybe it was the presence of the most beloved plotting escape-hatch of them all:


The old 'let's recognize the artificiality of our narrative twists as part of the story' gag! Because if we all write into the sci-fantasy wing of the story a lot of stuff about the manipulated dead and the survival instincts of alternate realities or whatnot, it doesn't matter what we do! Just have Donnie's teacher write out a vital clue for him on the board: it's all part of the plan! Let's have the cute 'outsider' girl fall for Donnie even while he spits out creepy lines like that kid with the video camera from "American Beauty" that would send most people running for the hills: the universe is trying to save itself and they need to be together! And how about a little social comment on top? Newsflash, folks: motivational speakers who try to boil living down to catchphrases are not really all that great! YIKES!


But. There were a lot of individual scenes I liked a lot. Donnie's dad was a great character. Mr. Kelly sure knows how to set a non-dialogue tracking shot to an 80's pop tune. A lot of the more fantastic elements of the story were pretty clever. They got the Catholic school atmosphere down just right, especially the unseen presence of the nuns of the past, even if most of the actors were way too old to still be in those classes. It's ok. I can live with that. It wasn't a bad movie, despite all I've been saying, and I can see why it's got such a cult following. There was just a lot of things to look past for me.