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Home Movies/Out on Digital 5.4.17

May. 2, 2017
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Donnie Darko Limited Edition

High school student Donnie Darko’s imaginary friend is a giant talking rabbit, but the malevolent Lepus bears no resemblance to Jimmy Stewart’s gentle pal in Harvey. Frank, the demonic rabbit, insists the world will end within a month and urges Donnie to acts of destruction. It’s October 1988, but Frank has other things in mind than the impending election of George H.W. Bush.

Donnie Darko (2001) quickly gained a cult following—an avid one judging by the elaborate DVD/Blu-ray set featuring the original theatrical version, the director’s cut and masses of bonus material. Donnie’s in therapy but the meds can’t banish the rabbit. He might be crazy but crazy things are happening in objective reality, including weird synchronicities and the jet engine that mysteriously falls on his home. Donnie Darko satirizes motivational speakers, bad pop culture and worse pop psychology. And yes, there are wormholes and the prospect of time travel.

 

The Mephisto Waltz

Alan Alda seems an unlikely star of a horror movie, but a year before “M*A*S*H,” he headlined this 1971 film alongside Jacqueline Bisset. With a glib manner not unlike Hawkeye, Alda plays a music critic interviewing an imperious concert pianist (Curt Jurgens), only to be drawn into the maestro’s circle of evil. The pianist is a dying Satanist who takes possession of the critic’s body. Disorienting camera angles (and weird synthesizer music) help set the mood.

 

The Scar

Paul Henreid is remembered for his starchy nobility in Casablanca. He plays against type in The Scar (1945) as a criminal mastermind who isn’t always as smart as he thinks. After a bungled heist at a mob-run casino, Henreid, on the run, murders and impersonates a psychiatrist whom he closely resembles. The Scar includes several great film noir scenes and a bitterly cynical recrimination against society. Crime looks appealing juxtaposed against the drudgery of 9-5 workdays.

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