Often, sci-fi and low budget indie productions go together about as well as chocolate and onions. The high budget demands on special effects eventually hamper the entire story. Clone Hunter is indeed [ ... ]
The film begins on an ominous note. Eerie strings play as the film fades to white. Soon, a ship appears out of the fog. Cut to a gumshoe, looking and speaking as if he has stepped straight out of a [ ... ]
In the wake of Inception, I thought it might be fun to create a list of 10 of the best mind mess movies. All of these films are very good, with some masterpieces. What they have in common is a tendency to question reality and confuse what is real and what is not. Also, like the best art, many of these films leave their meaning completely open to interpretation for each viewer. For anyone who likes films to challenge them as well as entertain them, these films are highly recommended.
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)- This strange, jigsaw puzzle of a film is truly polarizing, as it is either considered a masterpiece of postmodern cinema or representative of foreign cinema at its most pretentious and silly. The simple plot of Alain Resnais' film;, a woman in a baroque hotel continuously is seduced by a man who insists they have met before. The couple is somewhat stalked by a man who may or may not be her husband. That is it. The characters are never named. Other characters move like robots-if they move at all. The score is primarily played by organ, giving it an eerie similarity to funeral music. The giant baroque rooms have a lifeless, scary quality that was surely not lost on Stanley Kubrick (see the end of 2001 and The Shining).
Persona (1966)-In Ingmar Bergman's controversial yet lauded film, an actress suffers a mental breakdown on stage, soon never to speak again. She is taken to a remote cottage to be under the care of one nurse. Yet, the more the nurse tries to communicate with the actress, the more their personalties begin to merge. The film uses mirrors, seemingly unrelated but powerful imagery and, most famously, long close ups of each actress in order to present its puzzle . It includes legendary moments for film buffs,such as a moment where the film seemingly burns itself into two parts and a disturbing split close up where the actresses seem to share the same face. Is our identity based only on how we think others perceive us? This film has no answers, only enticing questions.
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To quote David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap, ìThere is a fine line between being clever and being stupid.î This list below includes 10 films (some of them classics) that are at least marred somewhat by a terrible ending, often through a ridiculous and unnecessary twist. Warning: includes spoilers, but most of them are films you either have already seen or donít need to waste your time seeing.
1. High Tension (2003)
This one was particularly frustrating for me as a horror fan. For much of its run time, High Tension is arguably the best and scariest slasher film since the original Halloween. It is an intense, gory and unrelenting cat and mouse game between a young woman and a brute of a truck driver who is holding her friend hostage. However, the film is nearly ruined by a totally ridiculous twist: the young woman and the killer are actually the same person. This twist is senseless because A) some of the kills seem to require superhuman strength. They might be possible for the bear of a truck driver, but improbable for a woman roughly half his size; and B) there is a car chase in the middle of the film between the victim and the killer. Did she somehow drive two cars at once and chase herself? Is the audience supposed to somehow suspend disbelief and accept that she (and the kidnapped girl, for that matter) imagined the car chase? If it had maintained the pace it started with and found a more believable ending, this could have been a horror classic. What a waste.
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As one who has seen way too many horror movies, Iíve learned that there are at least 10 (and probably more) rules that simply should be followed in case one finds his or herself in a horror movie:
Never, ever play with an Ouija Board. You might as well be calling The Bad Guy himself and inviting him and his buddies over personally. (The Exorcist; Paranormal Activity).
Say you stop at a small-town watering hole/gas station and ask for directions to Camp Woebegone. If all the old geezers and the heavyset lady behind the counter stop what they are doing and stare at you funny, itís a good idea to just go back home. (Examples too countless to mention)
Speaking of gas stations, never stop for gas unless it is a well lit, modern Chevron or Exxon with a mega-mart attached. Do not, under any circumstances, stop at any under lit station where the only employee on duty has bad teeth and walks with a limp (Examples again too countless to mention).
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In going over the work of the late, great Dennis Hopper, what impressed me the most was his range. Few actors could go from playing fearsome villains to extremely sympathetic characters so easily. Here is a look at five of his best performances:
Frank Booth in Blue Velvet (1986)
In my recent list of great movie villains, one glaring mistake is my omission of Hopperís brilliant work in David Lynchís dark masterpiece. Hopperís Frank is one of the cinemaís most unforgettable and terrifying villains in the past quarter century-brutal, deranged, perverted and seemingly on the verge of exploding into violence at any second. The moment he first catches the hero Jeffrey with Dorothy always drew a gasp of fear any time I saw it with an audience.
Shooter in Hoosiers (1986)
It is somewhat remarkable that in the same year that Hopper played Frank Booth, he also played the frustrating but extremely sympathetic Shooter in Hoosiers. Shooter is the town drunk who is surprisingly hired as an assistant by the new coach for the local high school basketball team. He realizes that this is his shot at redemption and tries to make the most of it. The fact that he falls a bit short only makes him more sympathetic.
The photojournalist in Apocalypse Now (1978)
His character was never given a name and his screen time is relatively brief. However, Hopper made an indelible imprint on Coppolaís flawed masterpiece. He is not only apparently the jester of Col. Kurtzís hellish court, but seems to be one who has stared directly into the face of darkness and is still trying to comprehend it. His apparent gibberish at times is a mix of both fear and reverence for Kurtz (ìThe man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.î).
Don in Out of the Blue (1980)
In this extremely bleak, but underrated film, Hopper plays an alcoholic who served 6 years in prison for a drunk driving accident with a school bus. His character is a coil of both unrelenting guilt and frustration. He tries to put his life and his family back together, but he cannot escape the accident-nor will the town let him. Also features a great performance by Linda Manz as his daughter CeBe, one of the few truly ìpunkî characters ever captured on film.
Feck in Riverís Edge (1986)
Though Hopper will perhaps best be remembered for Easy Rider, it will not be known as one of his best performances (the breakout performance in that film is clearly Jack Nicholsonís star making turn as the lawyer). Hopper gives a stronger performance as the pathetic killer Feck in the Riverís Edge (which, considering it was the same year he made Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, means that 1986 was easily his best year as an actor). The fact that Feck killed someone seems to fascinate the demented teens in this film, yet Hopper makes the character more pathetic than fearsome (indeed, his character is so pathetic that he seems to take a demented pride in the murder, as if it is the only action of any consequence he has made his entire life).
A ìjerkfaceî is defined as the villain in an anarchic comedy-one in which the hero or heroes of the comedy are competing or rebelling against some form of established institution. The jerkface is either the face of the institution or the heroís main rival. In the best of these comedies, we want to see the jerkface get whatís coming to him, yet he (or she) is often the funniest character in the movie. Without further ado . . .
Dean Wormer (John Vernon)-Animal House (1978)
The quintessential jerkface, Dean Wormer represents everything about the Establishment that Delta House is rebelling against. As played by John Vernon, it seems that Dean Wormer has only two emotions: deadly serious and pissed off. He even remains serious as a dead horse is being chain-sawed apart in his office. In the end, when Delta House exacts revenge and Wormer sees an out of control parade float barreling down on him, he delivers his last line with perfect resignation ìI hate those guys.î
In the wake of Inception, I thought it might be fun to create a list of 10 of the best mind mess movies. All of these films are very good, with some masterpieces. What they have in common is a tendency to question re
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