Donnie Darko


Twentieth Century Fox, $29.98

ONE OF 2001's most overlooked and original American films (on DVD March 19), Donnie Darko doesn't just deserve this single-disc smorgasbord of commentary tracks, deleted scenes, and ancillary time-travel data; the movie flat out requires a cheat sheet to help us understand what the hell happened.

Darko's labyrinthine story begins when a grotesque 6-foot bunny tells our eponymous teen protagonist (Jake Gyllenhaal) that the world will end shortly before Halloween 1988. (A detached airplane engine figures in the apocalypse.)

Rookie writer-director Richard Kelly asserts via the commentary track that he designed the film to reveal more about wormholes, portals, and space-time-continuum disruptions with repeated viewings. He doles out clues generously without patronizing us; when Gyllenhaal babbles about staring at an off-camera pizza during a crucial scene, Kelly playfully snipes, "I was just in the middle of a really pretentious reference to a famous photograph—and you interrupted me to say that?"

A staggering 20 deleted and extended scenes are included; most were judicious cuts, but all are supplemented by Kelly's insight. Another solid bonus: longer infomercials from Patrick Swayze's twisted "Cunning Visions" pitchman Jim Cunningham (comparable to Magnolia's Frank T.J. Mackey). The viewer can also page through Roberta Sparrow's The Philosophy of Time Travel book, a critical plot element.

The extras are indeed a wet dream for Darko-philes. Given the lubricious nature of Donnie's odyssey, that description is entirely appropriate.

Andrew Bonazelli

APPROPRIATE or not, March 26 brings naughty new "unrated" supplemental footage to the dreadful Original Sin that's "too sexy for theaters!" Presumably this means more of Angelina Jolie's naked body. Life as a House features the usual extras but unfortunately lacks commentary from its articulate star, Kevin Kline. Dreck like Iron Monkey and On the Line also debuts on DVD, as does the black-comedic 1982 documentary The Atomic Cafe, a fine time capsule about Cold War nuclear hysteria. Also look for Barbet Schroeder's Our Lady of the Assassins and a new transfer of Kurosawa's Rashomon from Criterion.


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