The Top 10 Movies Made Solely To Screw With You
5. The Vanishing
Source: Argos Films
Unlike Funny Games, it really does matter which version of the mindbending thriller The Vanishing you see. Forget the crappy 1993 remake starring a pre-awesome Keifer Sutherland and go straight to the 1998 Dutch original. The Vanishing starts out pretty normal. Are you seeing a theme here?
A young Dutch couple go on a tour of the French countryside. After a weird conversation where the woman tells her boyfriend about a bizarre dream she's been having involving golden eggs in outer space--they're Dutch, give them a break--they stop at a roadside gas station to fill up and grab a couple drinks. While the dude is pumping the gas, the woman goes to get the sodas. And then she (wait for it) vanishes!
He searches everywhere and asks everyone, but she's gone. Cut to three years later, and even though the guy has a new girlfriend, he's still obsessed with what happened to the first one. He goes on TV to tell the world and then things start to get odd. The guy responsible for her disappearance gets in touch to tell the hero that he did it. At this point audiences may be forgiven for checking their watches and wondering why the mystery has been solved so early. But this ain't your ordinary, everyday whodunit. This is a whydunit.
For the rest of the film, the kidnapper reveals in a series of flashbacks exactly how he planned the crime. As he gets to the end of the story, he offers to tell the guy exactly what happened to his girlfriend as long as he drinks a cup of drugged coffee first. Tormented by not knowing, he gulps down the spiked brew and in one of the greatest shock endings in movie history, he finds exactly what happened. And brother, it ain't pretty.
If you're tired of the kind of warmed-over thrillers Hollywood churns out, check The Vanishing out. You'll never drink drugged coffee the same way again.
4. Week End
Source: Athos Films
If Fight Club is a mainstream Hollywood movie that uses slick production values and big stars to satirize consumer culture, then Jean Luc Godard's Week End is the same movie made by a black turtleneck-wearing, weird cigarette-smoking hipster who shouts things like "Jesus was a fascist" to old ladies on the street.
A surrealist blend of '60s Marxism, French artsnobbery, and good old-fashioned smart assedness, Week End is a movie that revels in its own perverted take on modern society. The story revolves around a middle class French couple who are taking a weekend trip to the country to visit the man's father. But these aren't your ordinary yuppies trying to escape the city for some fresh air and fun. Both of them are having affairs, both of them are planning to kill one another, and the real reason they're going to visit the old man is make sure their inheritance is sorted out. Sounds like a fun couple, right?
Unfortunately for them, they decide to take '60s French Movie Directed by Jean Luc Godard Highway and run into some trouble on the way. Their journey is interrupted by the longest traffic jam in history (which Godard reveals in a famous 10-minute shot), several horrible car accidents, fictional characters, cannibal hippies, and Godard himself. Several times during the film, Godard puts up title cards with things like "a film found on a scrap heap."
It's all very intellectual, very strange, and surprisingly, very watchable. In fact, we're willing to say that it's the most watchable satirical French movie about a bourgeois couple whose drive to the country is waylaid by radical cinematic experiments and cannibal hippies ever made.
3. The Idiots
Source: Zentropa Entertainment
Lars Von Trier is a jerk. Hear us out. In his long, successful career, he's never made a movie that wasn't either a catalogue of abuse, or a prolonged "up yours" to whoever has the misfortune of walking into a theater playing his latest celluloid misanthropy. Unfortunately, Lars Von Trier is also an incredibly talented filmmaker who makes original, thought-provoking movies unlike just about anyone else working today. If only they weren't so difficult to watch.
Case in point, his 1998 WTF masterpiece The Idiots. The story follows a group of wealthy, upper class people in Denmark who live in a commune and explore alternate ways of living. Sounds a little snooty, but so what, right? Who hasn't felt alienated by the soul-destroying machines of the 20th century? Who hasn't wanted to rebel against the arbitrary rules of modern living? Maybe these crazy kids are on to something?
Well, unfortunately for the audience, their best idea for a new way of life is to act like they are mentally retarded in public. Yes, this is a movie about non-mentally handicapped people pretending to be mentally handicapped people and it's every bit as uncomfortable to watch as you might imagine. Von Trier makes you swallow the bitter, ugly premise in the first few minutes of the movie and then plays it out far past the limits of taste, decency, and endurance.
We see the people acting handicapped in a local swimming pool, at restaurants, and on a tour of a factory to the shock and horror of everyone involved. Worst of all, the "idiots" engage in an orgy as mentally handicapped people. We haven't checked with any official type of institution or anything on this, but we're pretty sure this is the least arousing multiple partner gangbang scene ever committed to film. Including the one in Steel Magnolias.
Sure, Von Trier has some skills, but unfortunately he uses them to make movies that leave you wishing there was a way to revoke your membership in the human race. Lighten up for once, guy!
2. Southland Tales
Source: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly's Southland Tales is an abstract, jumbled mess of sci-fi, politics, and religion full of all kinds of strangeness. It says something that the strangest part of the movie isn't the terrible/awesome lines like "teen horniness is not a crime," and "pimps don't commit suicide." It isn't that it features mainstream Hollywood stars like Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Geller, and Justin Timberlake playing freaked-out weirdos. It isn't that it features just about every single former Saturday Night Live cast member in supporting roles. It isn't that the story revolves around a genius inventor who may be the Antichrist and Seann William Scott is the second coming of Jesus. No, the weirdest thing about Southland Tales is all the other stuff floating around.
It's full of scenes that have no obvious connection to the main plot, yet feature prominently. In the middle of the movie, for no reason whatsoever, Justin Timberlake's Iraq War veteran gets high and does an elaborate musical number in a bloody t-shirt. SNL also-ran Jon Lovitz shows up as a blond haired racist cop who kills a mixed race couple. Bai Ling plays a sexy, seductive Chinese woman who does nothing but slink around looking sexy, seductive, and Chinese.
It's as if Kelly spent a summer dropping peyote while flipping back and forth between CNN and MTV, wrote down every half-baked idea that came into his head, and somehow convinced a major Hollywood studio to bankroll the results. Arguably one of the strangest American movies made in the last 20 years, Southland Tales is definitely worth a look. Just don't expect anything to, you know, make sense.
Source: Vitagraph Films
Like Psycho before it, Takashi Miike's 1999 Japanese flick Audition starts out a hell of a lot more normal than it ends. For the first 30 minutes or so, it's a story of a lonely widower who decides to "audition" potential wives under the guise of casting a film. After seeing several women who don't interest him, he's captivated by a young woman who claims to be a former ballerina. Despite the warnings of his buddy and the fact that none of her references hold up, the widower decides to start a relationship with the younger woman.
And this is where things get strange. Not a little strange--like he finds out she has 17 cats or is really into Barbie Dolls--but absolutely, nutsy-cuckoo, wash-your-eyeballs, cry-out-for-your-mommy bizarre. After a seemingly normal dinner date, he decides to call her up for another one. As the phone rings, we see her sitting perfectly still in the middle of a room next to a large burlap sack. As the phone rings, the sack--and whatever poor bastard is in it--moves and gurgles. She answers the phone, charming-as-you-please, has a pleasant conversation, and hangs up. In about one minute, the slow romantic drama has taken a sharp right turn into crazytown.
For the rest of the movie, freaky stuff happens at an alarming rate. Horrible pasts are revealed, several feet are removed, and once the girl puts on her rubber gloves and apron, we dare you to make it through the last twenty minutes without wishing you never heard of Takashi Miike, this movie, movies in general, the nation of Japan, and everything else you used to think was great.
Watch it if you think you can handle it, but beware. This is the movie that Rob Zombie said disturbed him. And that guy is nuts!