The new film "Cloud Atlas" is heading into theaters this weekend, taking all of its multiple timelines, eras and crazy future cafes with it. It looks fascinating, but it also looks like a viewer will need a collegiate intro course, a flowchart and possibly a graphing calculator to comprehend it.
To celebrate it, here are five other memorably mind-boggling movie experiences – and whether they are worth the ride.
"Enter the Void"
Many people may have seen the psychedelic light show that is "Enter the Void"'s opening credits – the inspiration behind Kanye West's "All of the Lights" video. However, it turns out there's an entire movie after that seizure-inducing sequence, and it's just as trippy, following a dead Tokyo drug dealer's spirit as it watches those he left behind attempt to carry on. Light shows and a 20-minute finale at a neon Tokyo sex hotel ensue.
Worth the trip?: I've seen a lot of movies, but only one of them has caused me actual physical pain while I was watching it. Gaspar Noe's film is told from the spirit's perspective, meaning the camera is constantly swaying like it was filmed on a boat. In case that doesn't cause nausea, "Enter the Void"'s plot isn't much more pleasant, involving suicide, abortion, incestuous undertones and the aforementioned trip to the neon sex hotel that really gets into the action.
A part of me wants to recommend the film because it's certainly unlike anything you'll probably see, but I also can't promise that's a good thing.
To be fair, this entire list could be comprised of David Lynch movies. However, "Mulholland Drive" is the most legendary of the director's trip-tacular work. The film follows a young actress (Naomi Watts) who gets wrangled in a crazy Hollywood system involving corrupt producers, a mysterious cowboy and most terrifyingly, Billy Ray Cyrus. Also, there's a gremlin monster living behind a diner.
Worth the trip?: I don't love "Mulholland Drive," but I can see the allure. The movie seems to exist on another demented plane, both in terms of storytelling and aesthetics, which makes it memorable – and also frustratingly cryptic. It's in the middle of Lynch's focused insanity ("Blue Velvet") and Lynch's complete insanity ("Inland Empire"). Maybe someone will invent a drug that will make sense of "Mulholland Drive" – some might argue they already have – but until then, we can only experience the film and hope to understand it in time.
2010's "Rubber" is about a killer tire named Robert that rolls around a desert town killing people by blowing up their heads with his newly discovered telekinesis powers. There are no typos in the previous sentence; that's actually what "Rubber" is about. I haven't even mentioned the audience surrogates who watch the tire's actions from a distance, making ironic commentary.
Worth the trip?: Can there be such a thing as a pretentious killer tire movie? Yes, and it's called "Rubber." Quentin Dupieux's strange little meta experiment is a presumptuous mess of commentary about typical film plotting and the audience's expectations, which often gives the impression that "Rubber" doesn't like you very much. That being said, it is worth the trip because the look on your friends' faces when you say you watched a movie about a killer telekinetic tire is priceless.
Before Darren Aronofsky freaked out audiences and Oscar voters with "Black Swan," he made the even trippier 2006 sci-fi epic "The Fountain." Hugh Jackman stars as a doctor hoping to save his dying wife. And he stars as a Spanish conquistador trying to find the tree of life. And he stars as a futuristic bubble traveler coping with death with his love, a tree.
Worth the trip?: It's certainly a convoluted adventure, as each of these stories weave together and intersect. Sometimes it's very moving; sometimes it's just silly (mainly when future Jackman argues or shows affection to his tree). I can't say it's an entirely satisfying experience, but it's at least worthwhile for Aronofsky's visuals, most of which are surprisingly not CGI but instead micro-photography.
On a side note, Aronofsky's budget was cut in half in order to bring "The Fountain" to the screen. Take from that what you will.
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
At the debut of "2001: A Space Odyssey," it's rumored 241 audience members (including actor Rock Hudson) walked out, wondering what the heck they were watching and why this black rectangle was freaking out all of the monkeys. Forty-four years after its original release, we don't know much more than we knew in 1968. It's certainly about the evolution of humanity, but beyond that, all you can do is hypothesize and wonder.
Worth the trip?: And wonder you will. Kubrick's effects and way of combining iconic visuals with equally iconic music are mesmerizing. "2001" invites the audience to ponder almost every single scene long after the credits roll, but unlike many other "experience" films, it also offers a tense coherent storyline in the middle about the killer computer, HAL 9000.
You can watch it for the chill-inducing sci-fi thriller, or you can watch it to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. Either way, the audience walks out amazed.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Oct. 29, 2014
It's one of the great philosophical questions about cinema: How much does reality shape the movies we watch, and how much do the movies we watch shape our perception of reality? Long-time Shepherd Express film critic Dave Luhrssen takes on that question with his latest book, "War on the Silver Screen," along with another classic question proposed by the great Detroit philosopher Edwin Starr: War, what is it good for?
Published Oct. 28, 2014
Writer and producer Jeff Gendelman's dream project, one in the works for 18 years, is finally hitting the big screen, one that puts his childhood fascination and home in the spotlight for hopefully the rest of the world to appreciate.
Published Oct. 27, 2014
Perhaps the Hasbro-based wannabe screamer is due some credit, because as a loyal adaptation, it manages to be just as flimsy and silly as the board game on which it's based.
Published Oct. 22, 2014
For many in America, ramen is almost exclusively college dorm food, something quick and easy to make when the times are desperate and the money (or perhaps just the initiative) is low. Recently, however, ramen's reputation has begun to lose its college res hall stink in American culture.
Published Oct. 22, 2014
As the rare tank-based WWII action movie, Ayer's latest decently satisfies. When "Fury" tries to be anything more, however, the story's treading gets gummed up, and the effective machine loses steam.
Published Oct. 21, 2014
In early 2012, music fans found themselves entranced by two hypnotically romantic pop songs cryptically released onto YouTube. The songs were gorgeous, a dreamy high voice with just a touch of smokiness crooning intimate lyrics over seductively simple electronic arrangements. Everyone just wanted to know who was responsible. It was an impressive little indie music mystery ... especially since it was essentially an accident.
Published Oct. 20, 2014
In 2012, comedian Tig Notaro went through a series of intense, significant personal crises that would be overwhelming in a four-year stretch, much less in merely four months. In a matter of a few months, Notaro faced a break-up, a sudden death in the family and two potentially fatal ailments. And in the middle of all of that, she had a stand-up gig at Largo in Los Angeles. The rest, as the cliché says, is history.
Published Oct. 16, 2014
A little over a decade ago, Milwaukee musician and Testa Rosa lead vocalist Betty Blexrud-Strigens got a chance to see the legendary Patti Smith in Madison. Even though the show came quite some time after Smith's punk glory years, Blexrud-Strigens still remembers the rock legend providing a charge. Now, it's up to Blexrud-Strigens and a roster of Milwaukee artists and musicians to bring that essence back to the stage with "Smith Uncovered."
Published Oct. 15, 2014
After three years, The Rural Alberta Advantage is taking a new album on the road, including a return stop at Turner Hall Ballroom on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. Before then, however, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with the band's drummer Paul Banwatt about the process behind "Mended with Gold," looking back at the band's past and spending some time in a creepy Canadian cabin. And, of course, hockey.
Published Oct. 14, 2014
Judged as awards bait, "Kill the Messenger" won't likely snag the golden glory it's looking for. Once you remove the arbitrary frame of awards season, "Kill the Messenger" is a solid, satisfyingly unpredictable and well performed journalism drama that - following the lead of "Shattered Glass" and, of course, "All the President's Men" - often plays like a tense thriller.