Lets get one thing straight, this is tough. Cinema is an ever-expansive colossal industry which boasts over 100 years of history, development, art, study, science, and splendour. In that time, we’ve witnessed the magic films bring into our lives fuelled by this constant drive to entertain and captivate its audience. But apart from the sensory journey they embark us on, there have been quite a few which have left a lasting impression on our intellects more than our hearts. These movies warp our perspective and really require a keener eye and mind than just plain entertainment viewing, an aspect which in all possibility fades away as we age. It isn’t to brag, but these are just the kinda films I adore simply because they make you think. They make you observe and wonder and furrow your brows at times. A film which manages to captivate me in such fashion, where I feel the need to predict an outcome, where I feel the little sense of pride if I guessed the climax right or the gasp if I guessed wrong, is a film I will hold with the highest regard. These are 5 such jewels. Bear in mind these are in no particular order.
- Fight Club (1999): If you haven’t watched Fight Club, you NEED to watch Fight Club. Based on the novel of the same name, director David Fincher weaves a cult phenomenon with this psychological thriller starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, who come together to capture a brutal satirical take on the self-absorbing smug heart of materialist capitalism that is America, and seem to find no better way to voice out their inner angst then smashing the crap out of each other. But it’s more than just fists and blood really. Smart, hallucinatory, and having some of the most memorable dialogues to ever be uttered on screen in the form of Tyler Durden, Fight Club is a wild, adrenaline rush, with a jaw-dropping climax that has ever since been aped. Perhaps not as intellectually engaging as the others, but still enough material to be regarded as an iconic venture.
- Memorable Quote: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
- Memento (2000): It’s almost impossible to exclude one of Nolan’s projects in a list such as this. It’s also difficult to pick just one of the several beautiful films he’s contributed to the industry, but Memento still takes the cake narrowly for me. Tracing the story of a man suffering from short-term memory loss on the prowl to find the supposed killer of his wife, having nothing but some tattoos and notes on and around him to track him down, Memento’s brilliant usage of a fractured narrative and timeline, and some sublime dialogues ensures the audience is always one step behind Nolan and his protagonist, Leonard Shelby, played by a fitting Guy Pierce. This is one movie that just demands you don’t get too comfortable. Several films since have adopted Nolan’s weapons, and there have been quite a few remakes as well, such as Ghajini, which was released in both Tamil (2005) and Hindi (2008).
- Memorable Quote: “How am I supposed to heal if I cant…feel time?”
- 12 Monkeys (1995): This is one film I genuinely struggled with. Director Terry Gilliam’s plot is a bit of a jumble in all honesty, but that doesn’t take away from it the pulsating narrative of this time-travelling project. Bruce Willis plays convict James Cole, who volunteers to be sent back in time to find the cause of a virus outbreak which has wiped out civilisation, in return for his sentence to be reduced. Constant shuffles, some unbelievable plot twists, a touch of lunacy, and solid acting from Bruce and Brad Pitt (yes, he’s there too), 12 Monkeys is a beautiful addition to the post-apocalyptic genre.
- Memorable Quote: “I am insane. And you are my insanity.”
- Primer (2004): If I struggled with 12 Monkeys, then you have no idea the amount of mind-squeezing I put into understanding Primer, and I still don’t get it completely. Of all the films in this list, I’d have to say I put more effort into grasping this one most. The film follows the story of four technology entrepreneurs who specialise in creating error-checking systems, two of whom, Aaron and Abe, in their most recent endeavour have found themselves to be in possession of something more than just a data analyser. Suddenly, they find themselves with what they think is a time-machine, and put it to the test, eventually building a version that can transport human beings. As they continue to obsess over their new revolutionary toy, they begin to discover the dark consequences of messing with the space-time continuum. Sure you may have heard of the bad karma that comes with messing with time stuff before, but trust me, there will be no point in this film where you’ll feel familiar, and somewhere or perhaps everywhere, you will be left saying “Im confused.”
- Memorable Quote: “What’s worse, thinking you’re paranoid or knowing you should be?”
- FUN FACT: This is the debut feature from filmmaker Shane Carruth, who wrote, directed, photographed, edited, scored, and stars in the film.
- The Man from Earth (2007): It’s quite unfortunate this film went largely unnoticed really. The entirety of this film is set in a single house and is composed almost entirely of dialogue. The plot follows Professor Oldman, who summons to his cabin a group of scientists and shocks them when he reveals that he is not a normal human being who has been alive for thousands of years, and more importantly, is immortal. Conversations engage, of spiritual, philosophical and psychological natures, as Professor Oldman continues to assert himself as a superhuman being leaving his company more and more puzzled and astounded. But the most astonishing revelation of all is yet to come, one which everyone comes together in. A cerebral exercise of a film.
- Memorable Quote: “I can give you the ten commandments in ten words: Don’t. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t.”
So there you have it, 5 films that simply cannot be missed. Now, of course, there are other which perhaps deserve to be along with or above these. Or maybe there are some in these you feel don’t deserve to be in this list. Please feel free to comment on your opinion, and suggest your pick.