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Movies That Make You Think

Updated on April 5, 2015
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando | Source

Apocalypse Now (1979): Based on the book by Joseph Conrad, Apocalypse Now takes viewers on a dark journey to find Col. Kurtz, portrayed by the great Marlon Brando, who establishes himself as a god to people of the Congo. Those who set out to find him end up finding something else: the horrors of war and its effect on the helpless. Roger Ebert proclaimed, “…“Apocalypse Now" is the best Vietnam film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul.” Rated R.

Memorable Clip from Apocalypse Now (1979)

Platoon (1986)
Platoon (1986) | Source

Platoon (1986): A semi-autobiographical account of Oliver Stone’s time in Vietnam. Written and directed by Stone, the Academy Award winning film stars Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen. Intense and nerving, this film lays out what Vietnam was like for American soldiers. When American involvement in Vietnam started in the 60’s, most of America was against our hand being in the fight. When this movie was released years later, many Vietnam vets praised Stone and his efforts to show America what our involvement was like, the questionable conditions the soldiers endured, and the mental austerity they experienced. Rated R.

Clip from Platoon (1986)

Clockwork Orange
Clockwork Orange | Source

A Clockwork Orange (1971): Written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, this film bravely goes where no, or few, films have gone before. The story is centered around Alex DeLarge, a young delinquent in futuristic Britain. Alex and his “Droogs” spend most of their time engaging in “ultraviolence”, from gang raping an innocent woman to bludgeoning a Cat Lady. Alex is eventually arrested and is introduced to a form of aversion therapy. The therapy causes immediate onset nausea with the enforced viewing of films about violence; essentially he is a product of scientific brainwashing. The story makes you question whether it is better to be bad of your own free will, or to be good as a product of government-sanctioned brainwashing. Though a very dark and disturbing film, it opens your mind and forces you to re-evaluate conformity imposed by the state. Rated X.

Buy it now: A Clockwork Orange (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Ultraviolence Scene from Clockwork Orange (1971)

Psycho (1960)
Psycho (1960) | Source

Psycho (1960): Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho is an American classic. Hitchcock, known as the “master of suspense”, delivers a chilling story of mental instability and viewer manipulation. Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, is the friendly proprietor one would expect at a roadside motel, and Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) was easily charmed by his hospitality as she stopped during her road trip. Though the audience soon comes to find out that things, or rather people, are not always what they seem. Rated R.

Buy it now: Alfred Hitchcock: The Essentials Collection - Limited Edition

"mother" Scene from Psycho (1960)

Oldboy (2003)
Oldboy (2003) | Source

Oldboy (2003): A Korean film directed by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy takes viewers on a journey of confusion, sympathy, intrigue, frustration, and even sorrow. One of the best films I have ever seen, Oldboy is about a kidnapped and imprisoned man who, upon his abrupt release after 15 years, sets out to find his captor and to learn why he was taken. However, he soon realizes that his captor has much more in store for him than he ever imagined. Is ignorance bliss? Or does the truth, no matter how horrible it may be, need to be told? Rated R.

Fight Scene from Oldboy (2003)

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men (1957) | Source

12 Angry Men (1957): Directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men takes you inside the juror room of a group of individuals who must decide whether an 18 year old is guilty in the murder of his father. Engaging viewers in a highly intelligent plot, the story delves deeply into the analytical aspects of crime interpretation. Henry Fonda stars as the quiet, yet reasonable juror who forces his fellow men to think outside of the box in the quest for justice. Rated G.

Knife Scene from 12 Angry Men (1957)

Leon: The Professional (1994)
Leon: The Professional (1994) | Source

Leon: The Professional (1994): Directed by Luc Besson, this movie reaches down into the world of true crime and young revenge. Leon is a New Yorker known for his “cleaner” abilities and soon takes the role, though reluctantly, as custodian of 12-year-old Mathilda. Watching every one of Leon’s moves, Mathilda starts to follow in suit. Starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. Rated R.

"one Minute Past" Scene from Leon: The Professional (1994)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jacob's Ladder (1990) | Source

Jacob’s Ladder (1990): A chilling and horrifying film of delusion, deception, and disassociation, Jacob's Ladder follows Jacob, played by Tim Robbins, a Vietnam vet who is having terrifying dreams and remembers little about his time at war. While trying to recollect his path, he starts to believe that there were some horrible things that happened to him and his fellow soldiers. With an incredibly brilliant plot, Jacob’s Ladder engulfs the audience with a deeply twisted story and forces them to examine the frightening idea of manipulated aggression. Rated R.

Memorable Scene from Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | Source

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine takes you on a journey of love, adventure, heartbreak, and the feats some take to heal the wounds of the soul. Carrey is remarkable in this film, playing a soft-spoken, easy-going man who falls in love with spunky, eccentric, and impulsive Clementine, played by Winslet. Both offer a stupendous performance and provoke viewers to question the depths of love and the bittersweet paths of destiny. Rated R.

Snow Scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975) | Source

Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Starring Al Pacino and John Cazale, Dog Day Afternoon is a true story of a man robbing a bank in order to finance his lover’s operation. Starting out as a simple robbery, the day manifests itself into an unpredictable hostage situation and media frenzied event for justice. Pacino is on top of his game, as always, and delivers one of the best performances of his career. Rated R.

Memorable Tv Scene from Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Requiem for a Dream (2000) | Source

Requiem for a Dream (2000): One of the darkest films of all time, Requiem for a Dream follows four individuals whose lives take unpredictable turns, all for the pursuit of drug-induced fulfillment. Starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, each of their stories are unique, but so incredibly intertwined. Disturbing, and yet chillingly intelligent. Rated R.

Scene from Requiem for a Dream (2000)

The Game (1997)
The Game (1997) | Source

The Game (1997): Starring Michael Douglas, this film delves into the deepest parts of your mind. What is real? What is pretend? Douglas plays a successful business man whose birthday means the beginning of a life-changing sequence of events. Surprising him for his birthday, Van Orton's (Douglas) brother presents him with a live-action game, only to completely overtake Van Orton's life - almost tragically. A surreal movie that prompts so many questions all the way through. Rated R.

White Rabbit Scene from The Game (1997)

© 2013 M Carnahan


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