If you’ve had one of those almost drone-like days, where everything went according to plan – you ate the right food, at the right time, said the right things to the right people and did the right things in the right order – you may be in desperate need of something wonky.
Some out-of-the-box thinking, some boundary-pushing, some weirdness. So, hop into something comfy, turn on one of these bizarre creations and let go of all things ordinary!
- From Dusk to Dawn (1996)
This gory crime-drama-turned-horror, by director Robert Rodriguez and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, is curiously entertaining. George Clooney and Tarantino star as the Gecko brothers – two brutally sadistic outlaws on the run, trying to reach Mexico in search of the good life. Upon crossing the US border in a hi-jacked RV, the Geckos and their hostages, the Fullers, head to a free-for-all trucker bar to hide out in safety. However, as it turns out, the seedy bar is teeming with bloodthirsty vampires. Consequently, the Geckos and Fullers are forced to team up if they are to make it out alive.
The genre-hopping is utterly abrupt, the gore-fest scenes will make you laugh (keep an eye out for the guitar-corpse) yet it’s eccentric enough to work. And George Clooney makes an excellent bad-yet-good guy in his big screen debut, impressively not overwhelmed by the craziness.
2. Being John Malkovich (1999)
In a mish-mash of comedy, drama and sci-fi, writer Charlie Kaufman unveils a surprisingly twisted story full of paradoxes. There are so many turns of events that you can’t possibly predict what’s next – which is what makes it so brilliant!
Low on money, puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) takes a temp-job as a file clerk at an office. There, he one day finds a tiny door which leads him into the mind of the famous actor John Malkovich for 15 minutes. Craig’s beautiful co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener) comes up with the idea of turning the portal into a business, by charging admission for people to enter. Eventually, Craig’s wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz) gets into Malkovich’s mind – through which she falls in love with Maxine, whom Craig simultaneously has a crush on. From here, the drama triangle just gets more and more ludicrous.
This stellar first feature by director Spike Jonze, bringing up the freakish nature of the voyeuristic culture technology has created, is more relevant today than ever. Playing with identity and gender-bending, this dryly comical, fantastically original film is well-worth a watch!
3. Mr Nobody (2009)
In this visually dazzling, trippy sci-fi romace, director Jaco Van Dormael untangles the story of Nemo (Jared Leto), or Mr Nobody, at a slightly uneven pace. It is year 2092 and 118-year old Nemo is recounting his life story to a reporter (Daniel Mays). His storytelling flickers back and forth through time, hopping between three alternate realities which seem to exist alongside one another.
The three different storylines running parallel creates quite a confusing narrative, enhanced by it being told at three crucial points in Nemo’s life: at the age nine, sixteen and thirty-four. Sometimes the stories intersect, with the women of each story entering aspects of the alternate life, raising many questions. Which, if any of these lives are real? Are the others, or maybe all, just a figment of Nemo’s imagination?
Although there are plenty of unanswered questions throughout the film – such as why Nemo is the last remaining mortal in an immortal society – the exhilarating jumps in chronology and location pair well with the unintentional confusion. A time-travelling, lyrical account of human imagination!
4. Donnie Darko (2001)
In this confusing sci-fi/thriller written and directed by Richard Kelly, the question of whether or not the ends justify the means is tackled in quite a unique way. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko – a troubled teen, who is warned by a monstrously-massive bunny rabbit called Frank, that the world is going to end. As the film reaches its last chapter, Donnie realizes he must sacrifice himself to save the world from an impending apocalypse.
But that is only one plausible reading of the film – there are a handful of ways to interpret the events shown on screen. Most of them have to do with time-travel, worm-holes, alternate-universes and parallel-realities. Through a story full of twists and turns, the film will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end – and probably leave you with more questions at the end than you had to begin with.
Full of quirky characters, and odd side-stories, on top of the marginally peculiar main story, Kelly’s first feature film is as original an enigma as it gets. Knowing what is going on would mean that you fully understood The Philosophy of Time Travel (quite literally impossible), so just sit back and let yourself be confuddled! P.S. Spot a young Seth Rogan picking on Donnie (along with everything, and everyone else it seems.)
5. The Square (2017)
Both a satire of Stockholm’s cultural elite, and a melancholy commentary on the segregation created by social circles, director Ruben Ostland’s film is daring and unusual. In short, the storyline follows modern art museum curator Christian (Claes Bang) through a few weeks of his life. His attempts to draw attention to the museum, through pursuing experimental exhibitions, and ground breaking social media campaigns lead to difficult questions being raised. What is art? Does political correctness threaten empathy? What defines civilized behaviour, and who is to say that?
One powerful scene that stands out is when, during a museum donor banquet, a performer (Terry Notary) playing an ape goes out of control. All diners who initially play the rules according to political correctness (e.g. not reacting), eventually turn ape-like themselves.
It’s not pleasant or easy to watch, with uneven pacing and structure, but it’s a thought-provoking depiction of the alienation of modern society – well-captured through Scandinavian-style dark humour.
And if, once you’ve got a taste of these bizarre creations, you are still hungry for more movie madness – here’s a list of 366 other snack-bites to munch on: https://366weirdmovies.com/the-weird-movie-list/ Bon appetit!