Sometimes you’re in that weird mood. You’ve tried six times to engage with those weak films on Netflix, until it dawns on you that all of the best ones on Netflix you own in your home movie collection anyway! If you are looking at this list you are in a position to test yourself or open your mind up to more surreal ideas. Some of the films in this list are grotesque and take you to a horrible place but others are just unusual leaving you thinking. I have watched all of these films, some I enjoyed others I endured in a sort of pain-pleasure kind of way. But all of these films had aspects worth exploring and I would recommend them to anyone. If you are brave enough to try one, drop me a comment to tell me what you think or recommend one for me to try. Unlike mainstream films that lay everything out on the table giving you a tidy beginning, middle and end, some of these films are more artistically driven and almost don’t care about what you expect and are more interested in surprising you. All of these films have meaning, though some of it is buried as a subtext to art.
1. The Lobster – this film is about an alternative future where people who are in relationships live a normal life, but if you are single for too long then you will be turned into an animal by the government so that you don’t irritate people in relationships. If you remain single you get sent by the government to this support group that try to help you find someone before your time is up. This film is very funny and has a dry humour. Some of the ideas in this are very thought provoking. This film is a bit arty in places but not so much so that the narrative is clouded by it.
2. Pi – This is a low budget film by Darren Aronofsky but has quite a high concept about a solitary mathematician trying to find a pattern in pi. He believes if he can find a pattern in pi he can control the pattern of the stock market but what he ends up finding instead is mind blowing. My girlfriend didn’t like this film because she wanted more maths involved and approached it like she wanted to watch an educational film. Instead this film is more about the limitations of stretching yourself mentally and how this can effect who you are as a person. The film paints a bleak image but is inspiring.
3. Videodrome – David Cronenberg is not to everyone’s taste but I do like this film. The story is about a TV executive who accidently tunes into this channel which has torture porn on it. He becomes strangely obsessed with the channel and finds out a strange conspiracy surrounding it. Very dark, dingy and perverse. This film is a bit dated but still has quite a cool idea behind it.
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – this film is bitter sweet but very surreal. Joel (played by Jim Carey) is a quiet reserved guy who manages by chance to meet Clementine (played by Kate Winslet) who is a loud larger than life character. Their relationship takes an odd turn when Joel finds out that Clementine had him wiped from her memory by a company called Lacuna that specialise in memory removal. Joel in his upset goes through the same procedure and the film follows his memories as they get wiped from his mind. Watching actors basically have a role reversal is quite fun, as Carey is normally cast as the whacky one.
5. Serbian Film – a friend of mine told me this was the most screwed up film he had seen in his life. He told me it was one of the most intense things he had ever watched, this naturally made me want to watch it and he is not wrong. This film tests your boundaries and plays with your perceptions of what is happening. The film is about a porn actor who is told he will be set up for life and never have to work again if he does this one film, but he is not allowed to know what it is. What ensues is a nightmarish ordeal.
6. Dogtooth – a film from the same director as The Lobster. This film is about an obscure family where only the father is allowed to leave the premises of the house. The mother stays home and sets challenges for their children and they all compete to see who wins their attention. Challenges include blindfolded swimming and hunting animals. This film is very messed up and is quite shocking in places. There is quite a dark humour hidden under it all if you’re in the mood to find it.
7. Requiem for a Dream – If you ever want to teach your children not to take drugs then show them this film. Actually don’t, you’ll scar them for life. This film depressed me for a week after I first watched it because the message is so hard hitting. Ellen Burnstyn is absolutely amazing as the lonely old woman and I truly believe her sorrow. This is heart wrenching.
8. Jacob’s Ladder – a psychological horror that inspired the video game Silent Hill. This film is based on a real event where men fighting in the Vietnam war had drugs put into their food supplies in an attempt to make them fight harder against their enemies. Instead it backfired and they all turned on one another. This film is set after the war where Jacob has residual flashbacks and has horrible nightmarish hallucinations. This film is largely unknown in the UK but is a must watch.
9. Twelve Monkeys – Terry Gilliam wasn’t just a great addition to the comedy of Monty Python, he was also a great director of incredibly odd films. I have nothing against ‘Brazil’ but Twelve Monkeys is excellent. This film blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. It supposed to be set in the future after a virus wiped out almost the whole world in 1997. The main character is a prisoner being sent back in time on a special mission to try and save humanity. The problem he has is that when he gets back he starts to question whether he is really time travelling or just losing his mind. This film has a great humour to it and does leave you thinking.
10. Inception – a slightly obvious addition to the list but it is such a great film. Christopher Nolan decorates this film with style but it doesn’t distract us from the story. The story is about some specialists who have a military piece of hardware that allows you to plant dreams into someone’s psyche and then enter their mind. The whole concept breathed fresh life into cinema at that time. When the film ended myself and others sat in the cinema completely blown away by the ambiguous ending. Definitely give this a try. Unlike some of the others there is no nastiness in this one.
Did I miss any greats from my list? Do you have any comments on the film or recommendations please let me know below!