12 Twisted Mind-Benders With More Questions Than Answers
Sometimes it takes more than a jumbo bucket of popcorn and an ice-cold cola to get you through a movie. You have to put on your thinking cap and do some serious pondering. Here are 12 twisted mind-benders with more questions than answers.
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DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan STARS: Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard
We're not going to get very far in this list if we don't start with the grand daddy of them all. And while nearly every Christopher Nolan movie ever made could be on this list, let's just narrow it down to this one and move on. Inception is a dizzyingly complex film that challenges the viewers right from its mystifying opening shot to that last infuriating final frame. What do we see? Is it real or not? Curse you, Nolan! Tell us what it is. Dominick "Dom" Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a crafty team of thieves, stealing information by entering the dreams of their targets. Now though, they are challenged to do the opposite and incept an idea in hopes of . . . well, we're not going to spoil it. Watch the movie, and when the credits roll and you scratch your head wondering why the heck just your brain is a little twitchy, let us be the first to say, "hello, and welcome to the rest of us." Google awaits.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry STARS: Kate Winslet, Jim CarreyBreakups can be one of the hardest things to get over and we all deal with them in our own way. Sometimes though, it's just impossible to get that person out of your mind, and we wish there was a way to just make them disappear forever from our memories. Well guess what? Now we can. Just kidding. No we can't. Deal with it. But if you're Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), it's a different story. A young couple who seem perfect for each other at first, they drift apart and after a while, she seeks the services of a small upstart company that scours a person's brain and removes those pesky painful memories. So she does. And then so does Joel, but during the process he has second thoughts and wants to stop 'cuz you know, Love. It's not so easy though. A visually stunning and perplexing piece of art, this is an emotional tale like nothing you've ever seen. Challenging, beautiful, touching. Perfect.
In Time (2011)
DIRECTOR: Andrew Niccol STARS: Justin Timberlake, Amanda SeyfriedSo we'll admit this is not one of our favorite movies. It has a ton of flaws and well, it's kind of silly, but fundamentally, the concept is trippy fun. In a dystopian future, because all futures are, people are genetically born to stop aging at 25 years old but engineered to die a year later. That is unless you manage your time right. How's that, you ask? Time is the new currency and if you can find ways to buy and spend it (or in some cases, straight up steal it), you could potentially live forever. Enter Will Salas (Justin Timberlake), a 28-year-old factory worker who happens to rescue a 105-year-old man (remember that he still looks 25) and gets himself entangled in a mess where time matters. Literally. Sure it's hokey, and the absurd digital clock readouts displayed on people's forearm's is a cringeworthy piece of visual exposition, but the idea is well-executed and both Timberlake and co-star Amanda Seyfried look great and make the best of it. So there you go. Time's up.
DIRECTOR: James Ward Byrkit STARS: Emily Baldoni, Lorene ScarfariaWhen a comet flies over a suburban dinner party, its effects lead to some disturbing moments as a group of thirty-somethings try to understand some very strange goings on in the neighborhood. It starts with mobile phones, where all the screens seem to crack at around the same time, a signal that something is off. As separate realities begin to form, questions arise about the characters, their motivations, fidelity, trust, and more. It centers on Em (Emily Baldoni), who starts to recognize the shift and unraveling of stories early. As more and more evidence is discovered that in fact they are existing in parallel realities, Em takes drastic steps in ensuring she remains in one that is . . . What? You didn't think we'd actually say, did you? An independent film with a limited release, we really got behind its premise and think it's a great pick. We even spoke with one of its stars. Give it a watch, and then check the trunk of your car.
Waking Life (2001)
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater STARS: Ethan Hawke, Wiley Wiggins
It's an age-old question: is this real life or a dream? How can we tell? And does it matter? Well, leave it to pioneer filmmaker Richard Linklater to bring this head-wringing adult animated film to the big screen and try to answer those questions. Sort of. Actually, it ends up asking more than answering. Either way, it's a heck of a ride. It centers on a unnamed young man who seems caught in a limbo of the real and unreal, an existential plane that allows him to observe and then engage in philosophical discussions on all manner of topics concerning free will and the meaning of life. Rendered in breathtaking rotoscope animation, it stars an ensemble of recognizable faces alongside many unknowns, giving this an ethereal feel that itself feels like a mix of real and unreal. In a series of intelligent and probing conversations, brought to vivid life in an art style that grows more diverse and absurd as it progresses, we explore much that will leave you almost numb with awe. Trippy barely comes close to describing this one.