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Ten Great Movies That Aren’t Afraid To Push the Boundaries!

The Ten Most Disturbing Films I Have Ever Seen

10 Movies That Are Extremely Uncomfortable to Watch with Family

Every fortnight, me and a group of friends have a Movie Night. We go to my friend Stephen’s house. He has a large study which he has converted into a “theatre room” over a long period of time. He is also an avid collector of Criterion Collection DVDs (He has 60-something. I have 5.) We’ve been doing this thing for about six months now, going through all his Criterion movies, and last night we watched the Lars von Trier “horror” movie Antichrist.

Stephen and I were the only two present who had seen the film before. Also in attendance was my girlfriend Ashley, and four other mutual friends who had not seen it and had very little idea of what to expect. I told Ashley (who dealt with the on-screen “happenings” rather well, considering…) that it was a sexually-explicit, often mistaken as misogynistic festival of violence and gore. She was at first optimistic, saying she hadn’t seen a good horror movie in ages. The optimism didn’t last once the film reached the third act. She was unable to watch some parts, and I can well understand why.

Antichrist is not the sort of film you want to watch with someone you hold close or even respect. And I can imagine watching it with actual family would be even worse (my mother would vomit, my dad would laugh). So, without further ado, here are ten movies that (I imagine) would be extremely uncomfortable to watch with family, and since I don’t often actually rank lists, I’m going to make this one a count down from ten.

10: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Darren Aronofsky’s hellish drug drama turns downright terrifying in its drawn-out, brutally punctuated third act. Scenes of Ellen Burstyn being incessantly electrocuted and Jennifer Connelly losing all dignity at a drug-fuelled sex party are enough to make anyone squirm in their seat.

9: Funny Games (1997)

Who really wants to see two men mercilessly break all conventional horror movie rules to draw out torture and eventual murder upon a young couple and their son during the long 100 minutes of this typical Haneke thriller? I know I don’t, and certainly not with family.

8: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)

In a horrific home-invasion scene brutally replayed on a home video camera, we see two psychopathic killers at their worst, most disgustingly inhumane attitude. And as if that weren’t enough, an overly depressing, nihilistic ending combined with countless scenes of unmotivated violence punctuate a brilliant reality.

7: Man Bites Dog (1992)

In one of the most unconventional horror films ever made (and one of my personal favourites, he-he-hee), a camera crew follow a serial killer around, documenting his rapes and murders (including the sickeningly slow death of an elderly woman from cardiac arrest) and eventually getting involved in them. A horror film which comically delights in some of the most disgusting acts, Man Bites Dog is grotesque but brilliant.

6: Audition (1999)

This one actually happened. I saw Audition at a young age with my Dad, and the next day we decided to play a prank on my mum. We told her it was a romantic comedy about a man who tries to audition the perfect girlfriend. We completely left out the brutal amputation and torture in the third act, and let her discover that herself…

5: A Serbian Film (2009)

One of the most gratuitously graphic films I have ever seen, A Serbian Film has it all. Kids watching porn, graphic oral sex, rape, paedophilia, facial cumshots, implied rape of an infant, and the gouging of eyes with an erect penis, among many other atrocities. Just perfect for a night in with the family, right?

4: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Two years ago, I broke up with a girlfriend who was a vegetarian when she told me she was in another relationship. I was very angry and immature at the time. I contemplated sending her a downloaded DVD of this disgusting animal snuff film in the mail at one point, though thankfully I refrained from doing so. It’s notorious, repulsive, excessive and bloody. Not for the faint of heart, or anyone with an emotional attachment to turtles.

3: Irreversible (2002)

Gaspar Noe’s 2002 masterpiece may be controversial and filled to the brim with excessive, gratuitous violence but it is nevertheless a serious work of art, as demonstrated in the horrifyingly beautiful final scene. However, that is no reason to watch this with anyone you value in any way.

2: Salo, or: The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s almost unendurable, 2-hour festival of disturbing violence, rape, sex, and general mistreatment of human beings may be a hateful metaphor for fascism, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier to watch whatsoever.

1: Happiness (1998)

Some will debate this film at the position of number one, but I put it here because, a) it is the most honest of the films on the list, which makes it scarier, and b) it is a disturbing film about family, perfect for a list of movies that are uncomfortable to watch with family. Who wants to see their mum peering curiously at their dad while watching Dylan Baker masturbate to pictures of kids? It’s an awkward, paranoid moment no-one wants to encounter, and makes the movie all the more uncomfortable.

So, those’re my picks. Let me know, was there anything I missed out?

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Ten Misleading Movie Titles

 

There are some sad people who look at a movie and judge it immediately by the title. It’s a dangerous and ignorant thing to do, but it does happen. Here are ten movie titles which, for some naive and inexperienced moviegoers can be very confusing and ambiguous, indeed.

A Clockwork Orange

There are no clocks, nor are their oranges which play any noticeable part in this film. What gives? Author Anthony Burgess says it is based on an old proverb “as queer as a clockwork orange.” However, the validity of Burgess’s statement is yet to be verified.

Sin City

This is not a film about Las Vegas, but there are sins involved. I suppose, however, it is a better title than the actual name of the city in this film: Basin City.

Naked Lunch

David Cronenberg at his weirdest, this is not the film it may sound like, and it is a generally repulsive and disgustingly ugly film. When asked what its title meant, Cronenberg replied by defining it as “a frozen moment where everybody sees what is on the end of every fork.” Now I’m hungry.

21 Grams

No, this is not a film about drugs, drug trafficking or drug use, despite the presence of Benecio Del Toro.

Funny Games

If you’re looking for a laugh… keep looking. Michael Haneke’s name itself should drive all comedy-lovers in the opposite direction immediately.

Happiness

A hilariously awful irony. The only person who is happy at the end of this film is a pre-teen boy who has learned to masturbate.

Straw Dogs

It sounds like some sort of obscure ambiguous comedy, but in reality it is a violent, explicit look at rough societies, social interaction and human repulsion. It may be only two hours, but with the horrific extended final hour, it feels much longer (in a good way).

Pink Flamingos

Of all the misleading titles, this is the one that it would be the most disastrous to predetermine. Crappy cinematography and a generally distasteful attitude toward the human freakshow and its extremes, it is nevertheless a “classic” of underground cinema.

It Happened One Night

With today’s unflinchingly graphic portrayals of sexuality, it’s easy to see how some people might misinterpret this film’s title.

Un Chien Andalou

And finally, possibly the most misleading of them all, a 16-minute surreal masterpiece which is little more than a series of jumbled, Lynchian images collided together as one whole given the seemingly senseless title which translates in English to ‘An Andalusian Dog.’

That’s my ten, now tell me in the comments some more misleading titles, if you can think of any.

Thanks for reading.

The Dark Side of Cinema: Happiness

An awkward moment in Todd Solondz's powerful film

The Dark Side of Cinema: Episode Two: Happiness

In 1995, influential filmmaker Todd Solondz released a feature film called Welcome to the Dollhouse, which dealt with childhood issues, bullying and teenage angst. His follow-up film released 1998, the subject of this article, was a more adult film and dealt with the akwardness and sexual frustration of various characters including a compulsive masturbator, an obese woman with homicidal tendencies, a young boy with a determination to ejaculate and his paedophile father, among various other equally troubled characters.

Sex is a difficult subject to portray with realism in movies, and although we never see any characters having actual sex (unless masturbation counts), we can feel and empathise with their sexual dilemmas and difficulties, even if they are completely repulsive.

The film opens with the lonely and generally disliked Joy Jordan, on a date with a pudgy, disturbed young man (a very funny Jon Lovitz). She is trying painfully to break up with him. He shows her a very valuable item, and then tells her that it is for the girl that loves him, storming off in disgrace. From this point on, we are introduced to an assortment of characters who all eventually have some sort of relation. Joy has two sisters, Trish and Helen. Trish is married to Bill, a successful and seemingly content man who is breaking up on the inside and prefers to vent his sexual frustration by masturbating to children’s magazines and, at one point, actually raping a drugged child (thankfully, we do not see this happen). Bill’s son is also sexually frustrated. He learns from his father in disturbing scenes all about sex and masturbation, and decides to give the latter a go. Joy’s other sister Helen is a depressed writer who enjoys phone sex sessions with Allen (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a disturbed and confused man who unknowingly lives next door to her. Hoffman is later rejected by Helen and goes out on a date with Kristina, another neighbour, only to discover her terrible secret.

You may be disturbed from what I’ve just told you, and if it’s seriously affected you, I don’t recommend you watch the movie. However, despite its disturbing and unflinching subject matter, it is an important film. The director, Solondz, has a knowledge of what he is saying and doing and manages to intelligently create a puzzle that will leave you contemplating your own happiness and that of people all around you. Is anyone ever really happy? It would be a lie to say yes. Even in our own fortunate moments of contentment, there is always darkness looming around the corner. Not that I’m a pessimist, or encourage pessimism, but I’m just saying that often times we ignore our frustrations and let them build up. Eventually the build up is expelled and we return to normal, but there are people who are truly unhappy, who resort to the measures depicted in this film, and will truly understand and sympathise with the characters’ problems. Solondz knows all about this. I don’t know if it stems from an unhappy childhood or unhappy life, or perhaps just from observations he’s picked up throughout his lifetime. All of his pictures that I can think of, which also include Welcome to the Dollhouse and the excellent Palindromes, depict characters with some sort of unhappiness, and often unhappiness is much more interesting and worthy of discussion than happiness itself.

What I’m ultimately saying, is that Solondz knows what he’s doing. He has an intelligence and knows how to tell the viewer what, deep down, our emotions really are. Not everyone is as unhappy as Joy, Trish, Helen, Bill, Allen and etc, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t benefit from the lessons and morals Solondz is trying to teach us.

My Rating: 8/10

Thanks for reading.