Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kay and I got on the topic today of movies that are absolutely disturbing but still very good. Movies that many people might say that they're glad they saw but that they'd never want to see again. A lot of my favorite movies would probably be described that way. I don't know that I'd say that this list is definitive, but here are ten movies that are certainly odd, intense, even disturbing ... but still very good. Movies that are well worth your time and that I'd recommend to any adults who are interested in movies that are well made, unique, compelling, demanding, even ground-breaking. You may never want to see any of these movies more than once, but seeing any of them one time is time well spent.
  • 10...LEOLO

    I caught this film on IFC one night several years ago, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The only word for it is audacious. There are a couple of scenes that are violently disturbing, one involving the abuse of an animal (it is all simulated as far as I can tell). But there are images in this movie that are among the most visually striking I've ever seen. I bought this movie on DVD as soon as I could get it, and every time I see it I am amazed at how singular it remains.

  • 09...AUDITION

    A scary movie that sneaks up on you. I won't say more than that about the plot. This movie left me feeling manipulated and totally creeped out.

  • 08...CRUMB

    A documentary as upsetting and weird as any fictional film I've ever seen. It's all the worse because the "characters" aren't characters at all, but real people caught in flat-out disturbing lives. The main character's older brother, Francis, remains one of the most compelling human beings I've ever seen in a film.

  • 07...SID & NANCY

    This movie is the reason that the phrase "a Gary Oldman like performance" exists.

  • 06...NAKED

    The first Mike Leigh movie I ever saw remains my favorite, and that's saying a hell of a lot, since Mike Leigh has made some outstanding films. This one features some of the best acting I've ever seen from David Thewlis. Another serious statement.

  • 05...OLDBOY

    This movie has recently been remade for an American audience. Having seen nothing of the remake, I'm still willing to guarantee you that the remake has nothing on the original. Avoid the remake like the plague until you've seen this fine Korean film. But consider yourself warned, this very good movie is going to freak you the hell out.


    If you need to talk someone out of trying heroin, this might be the best way to do it.

  • 03...SHAME

    A gorgeously made, absolutely stunning film that might make you want to never, ever, ever have sex of any kind again.


    I couldn't shake this movie for weeks after I saw it the first time. I've seen it a total of three times now (maybe four). Every time I watch it I am shocked at how good Nicholas Cage is in this movie, and disgusted that he hasn't done anything this good since. Then again, a performance like this might be the kind of thing that makes a guy want to only make substance-free movies for the rest of his life.


    I've heard people say about this film in specific that they thought it was brilliant but they'd never want to see it a second time. That hasn't been the case with me. This is one of my favorite movies of all time, I watch it a couple of times a year. Absolutely every single element comes together in this film. The direction is perfect. Just note-by-note perfect. The acting is amazing; Darren Aronofsky manages to get great performances out of the entire cast. Even Marlon Wayans is great here. And Ellen Burstyn... oh, good God, there's just no way to say enough good about her work in this movie. She's only ever been better than this once, in a movie I am trying not to mention. Burstyn's work here is one of the best performances ever committed to film. Beyond that, the photography is gorgeous, the editing is both showy and completely organic to the story. Even the score is perfect. I've seen two or three movies that are as good as this one, but I've never seen a better film.

*A few qualifiers: No schlock. If a movie only seems to exist to compete for the title "Most Disturbing Movie Ever," then it isn't worth considering. No Human Centipede type shit, no Eli Roth films. Also, nothing that seems intent on shocking the audience just by being borderline porn. Sorry, but Lars Von Trier movies are boring. And for once in my life, I'm going to make a top ten style list without mentioning The Exorcist. It certainly deserves to be the number one movie on a list like this, but I mention it in every damn movie list I make (favorite horror films, favorite movies of all time, favorite performances, etc).

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