Vanilla Sky, Mulholland Drive and Matrix Revolutions : three of the most confusing films of all time?


Came across this little list the other day, and what makes this list different from other movie new related website movie lists is that this was a poll. The voters were chiming in on “What is the most confusing movie of all time” over atLovefilm
The Tom Cruise picture, Vanilla Sky took this top honor. The runners up were Mulholland Drive and Donnie Darko. Donnie Darko?! Really!? I would have thought Darko director Richard Kelly was nutty enough with 2009’s The Box, but what do I know. I loved Donnie Darko, however, and it wasn’t confusing to me.

It should be said that the other films that made this poll are
The Matrix Revolutions, Memento, 12 Monkeys, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Revolver
and A Clockwork Orange . Wow. The late Stanley Kubrick hits twice. Actually, I don’t know what’s confusing about A Clockwork Orange either. I thought that was pretty straightforward. 12 Monkeys has a twisted logic, but it made sense narrative-wise. It was also a box office hit as well. Since the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con weekend is here, the majority of internet movie news sites seems to have no comment on this, or run with thier own list and/or ask readers what movie is “most confusing” to them. Aside from the recent Jennifer Aniston movie ‘The Bounty Hunter anyway.

One speculation as to why these films are confusing? Dreamlike states are a factor. I agree with that. Most of the listed are indeed heavy on the surreal. Some deal with alternate realities caused by shifts in a timeline where the timelime is corrected (Donnie Darko) or cannot be changed (12 Monkeys), others the distortion of reality (Vanilla Sky, Eternal Sunshine, the Matrix films). To this, I can understand the confusion. In Donnie Darko, the main character realized that he was stuck in a time loop which repeated itself. Some of the other characters knew it too, but were clueless on how to fix it. Darko was the key. Unable to change the outcome of his family members dying in the plane crash and his girlfriend being hit by a car (driven by Frank), when time reversed, Donnie chose to stay in his room and die, instead of listening (again) to Frank The Rabbit. The time loop breaks, characters have a fleeting memory of what transpired, like they woke up from a dream. However, with Darko “dead” and the time-vortex-wormhole inactive there will be no plane accident which would kill Donnie in the past. Things like this isn’t always a bad thing- they keep such films alive with fans old and new. Debate, speculation, multiple viewings. So when this “poll” is given, it could be said that a good number of them are films that people also enjoy because of the mind twisters.

Here's three films that I thought were confusing: What Dreams May Come, The Fountain and 1989's Millennium .

But how about films that aren’t that enjoyable? How about films where one viewing is one too many? I’ll swap A Clockwork Orange, 12 Monkeys and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind for the following: What Dreams May Come, The Fountain, The Bermuda Depths and a really forgettable film called Millennium from 1989. I remember it because I geeked out over Cheryl Ladd’s future look in that film. I also remember that it was one of the craziest time travel movies I ever seen, aside from being a bad film. That’s the one where people from the future kidnap people from the past who have been in “accidents” and replace them with dead people. The intent is to re-populate the future, as the abducted people would not have affected the timeline between the past and the future. However, investigators are looking into the problems of a mysterious plane crash. The scientists of the future find that something from the future was left behind in 1989 and so a timeline could be altered. They send back Louise (Ladd) to distract Smith, the lead investigator of the crash, and more “time quakes” happen until the future itself is decimated and only Louise and Smith travel to the future…with Louise now pregnant wih child…and they become the ‘new’ Adam and Eve. Granted, part of that confusion was due to that film’s troubled production (a like fate would happen to 2005’s A Sound Of Thunder) but I didn’t get it anyway.

Connie Selleca's green glowing sea-witch eyes? Giant turtles? Cerebral fantasy on the beach? Gotcha covered with the 1978 TV film 'The Bermuda Depths'!

1978’sThe Bermuda Depths I first saw on TV as a kid. I was into Jaws. I liked the killer Octopus in Tentacles. I watched reruns of Ultraman and Johnny Sokko, you feel me? So I felt, darn it, I want to see this stuff about a giant snapping turtle! I recall the movie being swelled up with all sorts of mumbo jumbo, and I recall Carl Weathers being tied to the giant turtle swimming in the ocean. And Connie Selleca as this Sea Witch ghost or something.
Remake that, Hollywood, especially YOU Micheal Bay! I dare you! I double dare you!
You’ll see I linked to the wiki page because It’ll take me ten cups of expressos and a cough drop to explain it to you! But there ARE some folks out there who love this film for the corniness, the novelty and Connie Selleca’s 200 year old Sea-Witch ghost with the glowing green eyes. Also because it’s got a giant turtle who can telpathically communicate with— oh, nevermind.

That’s on the lighter side of metaphysics. See, when we dive right off the board to the metaphysics of New Age, mixed in with all sorts of religions, that’s where I get the most confused. Which brings me to the Heaven and Hell reincarnation dud What Dreams May Come who has an assortment of characters who are really other characters (his dead children, in fact), guiding a man who wants to save his wife from hell. He does, but they both decide to be reincarnated. Now, I don’t believe in reincarnation. But that’s beside the point. The characters “pretending” to appear as other characters is confusing. The idea that a protagonist went back with his wife reincarnated with the chance of messing life up again and rendering “heaven and hell” nearly useless is a real kick in the shin. No wonder I don’t believe in reincarnation. I do have faith in the afterlife, and that there is a Heaven and a Hell. What bugs me more is that the New Age film had the audacity to suggest reincarnation is part of God’s plan. Yeck.

Then there’s the other overpraised film, Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain– at least it is overpraised in the film circles I run in. Hey, I’ll admit I didn’t get into Requiem For A Dream but at least it didn’t baffle me. But Fountain, which has themes of the fear of death, lost me as it got my interest. At times I was wondering if this wasn’t a reincarnated couple over time searching for the biblical tree of life, in an effort to find eternal youth. Story A with the Conquistador in the Mayan jungles? Interesting. The Story B with the man trying to find a cure for his dying wife? Slow and plodding, yet dramatic. Outerspace flying in yellow bubbles and meditation? The effects are nice, but I didn’t get it.

Neither did anyone else.
I know sooner or later someone will explain it to me, after a hundred expressos.

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