Inception has become the new movie that everyone in your office says you have to see if you ever want to have any social status in the lunchroom for the rest of your natural life. It’s not hard to see why: the movie is a total mindf***. But it's not the first.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
By Danny Gallagher
10. Fight Club
Source: 20th Century Fox
This adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s hilarious send-up of the modern male ego (or rather, the lack thereof) found fun in giving a great big finger to just about every facet of our oppressive society, including any sense of sanity you will ever have again.
The first four-fifths of the film takes the audience on a wild, testosterone-fueled psychosis of mayhem, destruction, and general disarray on everything from meaningless corporate sculptures to the sappy innocence of children’s films. But the cart derails when the audience learns that the protagonist/antagonist Tyler Durden is actually not Tyler Durden. He’s not even a person. He doesn’t exist. He’s just a self-appointed guide to the narrator’s diseased and stressed imagination. That would have been one hard-to-shoot love scene for the director and the actors...for more than one reason.
Source: Newmarket Films
Christopher Nolan might have been able to tie more knots in people’s brains with Inception than a coked-up Boy Scout troop could produce at a weekend “Knot-It-Off” jamboree, but that's because he had a good head start.
His famous indie smash hit took every concept that had been developed for movie-making for time, plot development, and exposition and shoved them face first into a wood chipper. The movie jumps back and forth between different time periods in the tragic life of Leonard until the two converge into one focal point on a bell curve of “What the f***.” A special edition of the DVD featured a recut of the film that plays the events in chronological order from its gripping start to enthralling finish (or is it the other way around?). It’s been said that if you watch the new cut while playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, then you’re probably unemployed and really, really stoned.
8. The Game
Source: Polygram Filmed Entertainment
Director David Fincher has an odd method of turning the mundane and ordinary of everyday lives into gripping moments of unrelenting terror and fear. His home movies could probably make you sleep with a fully automatic rifle under your pillow and a ring of fire surrounding your bed for the rest of your life.
This oddly fun noirish-thriller stars Michael Douglas as a wealthy executive who enters into a strange “game” as a birthday present that slowly seems to take over his life, starting with his job and ending with his very name and reputation. Most movies find fun in not letting the audience in on whom the protagonist shouldn’t trust. Here, everyone is a suspect...from his brother, played by Sean Penn, to even the extras meandering in the background. Nothing, as they say, is as it seems. It’s like The Matrix but with good acting and less S&M wardrobe consultants.
7. Being John Malkovich
Source: USA Films
Just about every major religion only considers the body to be a vessel for the soul. In this film's case, John Malkovich’s is a vessel for avoiding death, thanks to a special door in the world’s tiniest office that transports your living soul into his head for 15 minutes and dumps you out on the edge of the New Jersey Turnpike. If a soul enters the vessel at the right time, they can live in his body and his offspring’s bodies by leaping from “vessel to vessel” when it’s “ripe.” And if that concept doesn’t make your brain all hurty, just wait for the scene when John Malkovich enters his own portal and is confronted by a world inhabited entirely by John Malkovich. It’s so weird, it’ll have you screaming “Malkovich Malkovich!”
Source: Universal Studios
Now we start getting into very strange territory and by strange, I mean, your computer is morphing into a gila monster that only speaks Spanish, words have no inherent value or meaning and purple monkey dishwasher.
This cult classic from director David Cronenberg takes on the equally huge cult of television and reduces it to a wasteland of soft-core porno and quick fixes of schadenfreude-heaven. You know, the way it should be. However, it all gets screwed up when a new show featuring people being tortured and killed for no apparent reason crops up on a pirate signal and starts giving its viewers hallucination-induced brain tumors. Our hero/lead victim James Woods is subjected to horrifying visions of breathing Beta-tapes, random acts of unnecessary violence, and even a large man-vagina on his stomach that provides a handy storage pouch for weapons, tapes, and skin-piercing grenades that are bound to become another useless product for a late night infomercial ("Introducing the Sham-Gina!").
5. Vanilla Sky
Source: Paramount Pictures
Usually, the words "Tom Cruise" and "bats*** crazy" have more in common with each other than "peanut butter" and "jelly," except this time, the two are slightly more grounded in reality.
This critically-acclaimed brain bruiser from Almost Famous director Cameron Crowe takes the concept of sleeping and waking consciousness and turns each into twisted replicants of mind-blowing awesomeness. During one half of the movie, publishing mogul David Aames thinks his friend with benefits, played by Cameron Diaz, died in a car accident of her own doing as he falls in love with another woman, played by Penelope Cruz, but their personalities and identities seem to jump in and out of each other every time Aames wakes up or goes back to bed (or does he?). Of course, the most confusing dilemma of the movie is why Tom Cruise is getting all worked up over whether he’s sleeping with Cameron Diaz or Penelope Cruz, giving men everywhere another reason to want to jump up and down on his lifeless body like it's Oprah's couch.
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Source: Focus Features
Writer/director Charlie Kaufman has a special gift for concocting the most absolutely absurd corners of mankind’s imagination. His films, like the aforementioned Being John Malkovich, have a great deal of fun in taking sheer insanity and making it seem like a familiar problem without having to drug the entire audience with a heavy dose of Thorazine.
His collaboration with equally absurd director Michel Gondry took the same joyous spirit and applied it to our dark and depressing memories by creating a fictional company that wipes your brain clean of the source of all your misery. The procedure unfolds just as our hopeless romantic Joel, played by Jim Carrey, realizes he wants to keep his memories of his ex-girlfriend, played by Kate Winslet, intact. The result is an extremely off-road trip down “Mindf*** Avenue,” which just happens to eventually intersect at “Brainbleed Street” and dead ends just after “David Fincher Way.”
3. Donnie Darko
Source: Flower Films
Imagine every crazy, twisted, or completely f-ed up movie you’ve ever seen. Now insert a giant demonic, metallic bunny rabbit who can break the laws of space and time somewhere in the plot. When your brain stops making your eyes bleed, please continue reading.
In this cult classic, a troubled teen, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, makes friends with a rabbit who claims to know when the world will end and enlists his angst-ridden, pill-popping candidate for Valium to create a little chaos before the dark cloud swallows the Earth whole. This means everything from flooding his school to burning down a motivational speaker’s lavish house. And the funny thing is, it gets even weirder than that. If you can understand the complex structure of the film’s space and time construct, then you should probably be doing something more constructive than wasting time on the Internet...like building a super-collider that runs on solar power and love.
2. Paranormal Activity
Source: Paramount Pictures
Sure it seems just like your typical run-of-the-mill horror film about two pretty and innocent-looking people being terrorized by some unseen being from the bowels of Hell.
This sleeper horror hit of 2007 found a new way to terrorize audiences: by making them feel and almost believe that this stuff could happen to them. People who saw the film and screamed the whole way through left the theater in a numb malaise of shaky fear that one critic from the Los Angeles Times called “hard to get rid of.” And she was right. Herpes was easier to eradicate from your body than the fear this movie left inside of you long after you’d left the theater.
There are very few words that can accurately describe just as how big of a mindf*** it is to watch this movie, so I’ve combined them together in one long word for effect: “holymotherf***ingcrazyinsanebats***insanementallydementedpurplemonkeydishwasher.”
David Lynch showcases a twisted and tragic tale of human struggle (I think) using the most brilliant and insane images ever used in a movie that went mainstream (and that includes Billy Madison). It features Henry, an eccentric but shy man, who becomes the father of a bizarre-looking baby overnight and is subjected to a series of strange dreams and occurrences. From a bizarre dinner with his girlfriend’s parents featuring tiny chickens that spew goop and having the brain from his disembodied head used to make pencil erasers, Eraserhead makes every student film you’ve ever seen look like a competent and cohesive piece of cinema.