Secret Pop

Jul 16, 2004

"All around me are familiar faces..."

I went to the premiere of Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut tonight at the Egyptian Theatre. The affair gave the appearance of swank, what with all the be-earpieced security personnel. A good chunk of the cast and crew (including Jake Gyllenhaal and Katharine Ross) were in attendance for a post-film Q&A and after-party. And there was a smattering of press on hand. So that explains the bounce staff. But I got through their flimsy phalanx without a ticket just fine. I'm cunning. Like a fox.

I wish I could have enjoyed myself more. I was uncomfortable and tense. It just got warmer and warmer and warmer in the cinema, until I found myself wanting it to be over and not caring anymore. And the guy running the Q&A asked his questions in the most long-winded and sycophantic way. If I'd had rocks in my pockets, I'd have thrown them.

I've seen Donnie Darko many times since its original release, which happened just a short time after I first moved to Los Angeles. I remember seeing billboards for it when I had just gotten here, and wondering about it. As early as November -- only a month or two after my move -- I remember going to a performance my friend Jo Alexis was giving at the home of her friend Bairbre Dowling and meeting Holmes Osborne there and noting that he was to be in the film. It was all just a rumor at that point.

And, though I've seen it many times and own the DVD and have never really attached much sentiment to it before, for some reason, tonight, it dragged my heart around a little. I thought about those first months here. And the year that followed. I thought about all of the hopes I had and how so many of them were dashed. I thought about the way I would feel each time I came home to this apartment and how that changed over the months that followed. The ups and downs in my sense of welcome. This place has been a refuge and a prison. A rendezvous spot and an escape pod. It has been more trouble than it's worth and more reward than it has cost. And, as inconstant as it has been, it has been the only constant in my time here. The rest has been a roller coaster. A toggle switch. A strobe light. Mercurial. Fickle as a woman or a winning streak.

I enjoyed the movie, I suppose. Drew Barrymore is only more awful in it because there's more footage of her, and she is really terrifically bad. But the rest of the more that was added was helpful in changing a lot of what the story once was. I don't know if it was as effective as Richard Kelly assumes it was. In his Q&A comments, I gathered he thought that a lot more questions were answered by this new cut, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. It did offer more opportunities to see how the characters felt about each other, though, and that had its value. But it's still not a transparent narrative by any stretch. And it takes a lot longer to get to the final question mark. So it's a good thing I didn't have to pee.

The Cinematheque is about to have a sort of '70s and '80s wacky musical fest, so we saw trailers for The Apple and Can't Stop the Music, and they were hilarious, and I would like to see both of them while under the influence of a cocktail of things. But that's just something else to look forward to.

I don't know what to make of me at the moment. I would say that I have been blue lately. But I think it's more accurate to say that I have been black. If I ever have a sunny disposition, I don't like it to be called that. But I have a feeling most people see me smiling most of the time and that I strike them as pleasant and encouraging and cheery. And I wonder if that's still true today. I feel less than apple-cheeked, I'm afraid.

I'm always keeping something secret, though. I suppose that's true. I'm always harboring some bit of unknown. I may wear my heart on my sleeve, but nearly everything else stays in my handbag.

No one knew me, no one knew me.

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