We’re knee deep into the era of superhero blockbusters, where Hollywood continues to churn out movies that are largely indistinguishable from one another. The purpose of this is simple: certain types of movies are guaranteed to make a profit, as their goal is to entertain and more importantly show you something they know you will like, mostly because you already liked it before and are likely to go see the next movie that resembles it. You go to the movie, you see some big explosions, muscular leading men, beautiful women, epically choreographed fight scenes (or CGI fight scenes), the good guys win and you go home feeling all is well with the world. No meaningful ideas were presented, you weren’t challenged in any way, you didn’t have to think at all, it was just entertainment for the sake of entertainment.
There are also many filmmakers seeking to do more than just entertain, they don’t want to just show you more of the same of what you’re used to, they sprinkle in a little radicalism, a few controversial ideas, some notions highlighting how the way you currently think about the world may or may not in fact be correct or to your benefit. These ideas might be exhilarating, threatening, eye opening, or you might not even notice they were being presented in the film to begin with. The history of cinema is littered with films that challenge conventional wisdom and try to instill in their audience some fairly radical notions of what it means to be human, to challenge your belief system. Here’s a list of 15 films that try to do just that which you should actually see (in no particular order).
WARNING: There are plenty of spoilers ahead.
15 Groundhog Day (1993)
14 The Matrix (1999)
13 The Truman Show (1998)
12 Fight Club (1999)
11 They Live (1988)
10 Network (1976)
9 La Belle Verte (1996)
8 Samsara (2011)
7 Wall-E (2008)
6 Vanilla Sky (2001)
5 Waking Life (2011)
4 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3 American Beauty (1999)
2 Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
1 Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Probably Kubrick’s most acclaimed film and containing a performance by Peter Sellers that is in a league of its own. An air force base general has lost his mind and has ordered all his bombers to attack Russia while a group of individuals in the government try to stop them before it’s too late. Strangelove pokes fun at American culture at a time when the threat of nuclear war was very real in the minds of some. The wit and simplicity with which Kubrick dumps all over capitalism, propaganda and the military makes for a scary yet light-hearted film. Millennials will find it hard to watch this film as it starts off slowly and takes its time to develop the plot. (Warning: Not recommended for anyone with a smartphone addiction, ADD, a limited grasp of sarcasm, or a primitive sense of humor).
Sources: imdb.com, nytimes.com, rogerebert.com, fandango.com
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