They say sensible movies all make sense in the same way, but confusing movies confuse to a myriad of possibilities. This list contains movies that will engage your inquisitive faculties and leave you asking for more, even if in some cases, against your better judgement.
1. The Sun Also Rises
A piece with beautiful imagery, well-crafted score and a four-part plot that seems circular as it may be linear, director Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises will give you that bewildering satisfaction of understanding something you don’t actually comprehend. Whether it is a subdued decrial of the madness of the Culture Revolution, or a portrayal of the repressed (sexual) desires of a traditional society, the complete version exists perhaps only in Jiang’s head, tugged safely within the elaborate web of symbols and imageries.
Unlike some other movies on this list, The Sun Also Rises will reward some diligent pondering without the creeping disappointment that it’s all in vain.
2. The Room
I must caution you this is not the Oscar-winning movie Room – The Room is a breed of its kind, unmatched in any logical or artistic form precisely because it has neither. That is not to say The Room isn’t an entertaining and even delightful movie to watch. Barring director and lead actor Tommy Wiseau’s drooling tone, inaudible accent and non-existent acting, The Room offers the amusement of a nonsensical plot, random characters and an ending so abrupt you’ll shout “WHY!” Because seriously, why did he make this movie? What was he trying to say? What’s the point? Often hailed as one of the worst movies ever made, The Room will entertain with sheer confusion rarely so pure and complete in its filmic form.
A side note is I absolutely cannot wait to watch the James Franco parody of this timeless classic:
Combine the despair and repression from Requiem for A Dream, the plot twist of Black Swan and the surrealism of The Fountain, then minus the relatively comprehensible plot of The Fighter, and you get Mother! It is a generally well-made film with a good build-up of tension and the façade of reason, until everything you think you know about the world of Mother! breaks down in the last 30 minutes and yields to complete chaos. Suddenly way too many plausible themes from the hypocrisy of religion to the consuming nature of “the artist” (not unlike Nick Nolte’s character in the Martin Scorsese short, Life Lessons) to the nature of motherhood are all packed onto the screen without sufficient elaboration. It would be a far more interesting movie if director Darren Aronofsky had made up his mind to tell just one story with the tenacious obsession of Black Swan.
4. The Wailing
I’m sure The Wailing is full of metaphors with reasonable theories that escape me, but that doesn’t help me understand the movie or its message. The Sherman, the Japanese stranger and the girl in white engage in a tug of war throughout the movie, seemingly working with and against one another at the same time. Despite the confusion, The Wailing is a good watch with its well-placed tension and convincing acting by Kwak Do-won, the perfect kind of movie for explorers who seek mystery but not necessarily answers. Perhaps the only thing I can say for sure about The Wailing is it portrays the doubt of the faithless in face of an inexplicable evil, a common fear that plagues regardless of religious subscription (or lack thereof).
5. The Box
This is based very – and mind you, I mean very – loosely on Richard Matherson’s 1970 short story titled Button, Button. It’s one of those movies that leave way more loose ends than any story should, exposing one intriguing setup after another only to leave them hanging for no obvious purpose. And for those who have read the original short story, you’ll find yourself in the dangerous trap of trying to interpret how so many irrelevant and inexplicable plot points got added in, not to mention the complete distortion of the story’s message at the end.
Included for the purpose of completing this list, this will perhaps be one of the very few movies that secures a mention but never a recommendation for viewing.