[Melissa Nadarajan | Contributing Writer]
Sometimes a movie has the ability to leave you slack jawed, confused, and questioning your very existence. Sometimes you are just left wondering how you will ever get those hours of your life back. This list, by no mean definitive, is just a taster of the weird, the wonderful and the downright bizarre; welcome to the world of the WTF film.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro
Ludicrous, irreverent, surreal but ultimately hilarious, Fear and Loathing is the prince of drug fuelled films. Adapted from the writing of journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, the manic, disjointed plot follows Raoul Duke (Depp) and his ‘attorney’ Dr. Gonzo (Del Toro) on a hedonistic and hallucination filled road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to cover a motorsports competition in the Nevada desert. Along the way they encounter bars filled with giant drunken lizards, moray eel receptionists, imaginary flying bats and their own demented selves in lurid hotel room after hotel room. Best enjoyed intoxicated.
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring: Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatolly Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko
A slow moving, yet tense and atmospheric film, Stalker follows three men on a clandestine journey to a sealed off and heavily guarded area known only as ‘The Zone.’ Buried deep inside The Zone is a room that allegedly grants those within their deepest desires. However The Zone, possibly but unexplainably sentient, can only be traversed by a skilled Stalker, who has an innate sense that can avoid the area’s deadly traps. The nature of The Zone changes with every minute and the safety of each path is determined by the bizarre technique of throwing a metal nut attached to string at it. The film, a partial influence for S.T.A.L.K.E.R game franchise, has deep religious and philosophical undertones, an ethereal and unnerving soundtrack, and never fully explains itself.
- The Fountain
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weiss
When the director of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan sets out to make a love story, he could hardly be expected to create something straight forward now could he? Three intertwining storylines spanning centuries, continents and outer space, featuring the same actors playing the same-but-not-quite characters in each of the same-but-not-quite storylines unfold to tell a tale of love, devotion and mortality. The dreamlike space scenes, while beautiful are bewildering, nonsensical and the conquistador segments are just as trippy.
- Being John Malkovitch
Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, John Malkovitch
Bizarre comedy in which a struggling puppeteer (Cusack) takes on a job on the 7 ½ floor of an office building, a cramped crawl space wedged between two floors. While working there he discovers a portal behind a filing cabinet that leads in to actor John Malkovitch’s (playing himself) mind. The portal allows the puppeteer to experience life through Malkovitch’s eyes before it unceremoniously spits him out on the side of a road. He introduces his wife (Diaz) and his co-worker to the experience and together they start charging people to use the portal. However the relationship between the three becomes mired in jealousy, betrayal and unrequited love, while the real Malkovitch, believes he is going insane and is determined to find out why.
- Donnie Darko
Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, James Duval, Jena Malone
A modern cult classic blending supernatural, coming-of-age and science fiction genres. Donnie (Gyllenhaal) plays an American teenager troubled by nightmares, sleepwalking, and visions of a terrifying looking giant bunny rabbit who instructs Donnie to commit acts of vandalism. The convoluted ending left audiences confused and grasping for answers. The end of the world is coming, plane engines fall out of the sky, senile grannies hold the secret to time travel, and your commitment to Sparkle Motion is severely doubted.
- 2001: Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain
A legendary science fiction masterpiece exploring human and technological evolution, Space Odyssey’s retro-future aesthetic has influenced countless films for decades since its release. However it is its bizarre Star-Gate sequence that lands it in this list. Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) flies his spacecraft through a surreal and disorientating, yet visually spectacular series of coloured lights accompanied by a truly terrifying soundtrack of distorted choral voices. The sequence ends abruptly to reveal the astronaut in a building with an entirely white interior, where he witnesses several versions of himself, each increasing in age. No explanation and no soundtrack enter this part of the film, and the very last shot will leave you perplexed and running for the nearest search engine, demanding answers for the last three hours of your life.
- Enter the Void
Director: Gasper Noé
Starring: Nathanial Brown, Cyril Roy, Paz de la Huerta
This film is an epileptic’s nightmare. Labelled by its own director as a “psychedelic melodrama,” Enter the Void follows the life of a young American drug dealer and user living in Tokyo. We see each moment through his eyes, with each scene shot from a point-of-view perspective, including blinking and drug-induced hallucinations. Nor does this stop when the protagonist is shot by police, following his spirit around the streets of the Japanese underworld, watching the psychedelic, dream-like chain of events that unfold after his death; featuring questionable moments that include incest-y vibes, flashbacks, love hotels and glowing genitals…glowing genitals everywhere…
- A Scanner Darkly
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr. Winona Rider, Woody Harrelson
Yet another drug fuelled, sci-fi escapade set in the not so distant future; a star studded cast and a visually exciting animation technique make this film really stand out. An undercover policeman is ordered to infiltrate a group of junkies addicted to a drug known as ‘substance D.’ He too becomes addicted and loses his grip on his identity and reality. Hallucinations, conspiracy theories, paranoia and delusions feature heavily with twists and turns that only increase the claustrophobic atmosphere. Also boasts some great, rambling comedy moments, especially from Harrelson and Downey Jr.
- Zero Theorem
Director: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, Mélanie Thierry
The second film on the list by this director, Gilliam is possibly the king of WTF movies, with past specimens including Brazil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Twelve Monkeys. Zero Theorem, his latest offering, is no further down the WTF scale and is set in a neon-bright, fantasy future world. Qohen Leth, played by Christoph Waltz, is a drab, insular being, harassed by the extroverted nature of his world in which his only job is to ‘crunch entities.’ Nightmares about black holes, virtual reality beach dating and a quest to find the meaning of existence intrude into Leth’s life until his world collapses around him. The bizarreness of this film firmly sits in its overall aesthetic, a bubble-gum parody of modern consumerism where billboard advertisements follow passers-by along the street, and the current fashion is shower curtain/plastic/fancy dress/rave. The result is a modern sci-fi film that looks like it was made in the 80’s.
Seen a film that made you say WTF? Let us know @TridentMediaUK!