A friend recently did a post about his favorite sports movies. After reading his well-done article, I started pondering the film genres in which I might offer the most helpful commentary, and as a life-long devotee of the surreal and the incongruous, I decided that the best thing I could share with you, beloved readers, is a list of My Favorite Movies That Don’t Make Any Sense At All.
As wordy as I can be here, I’m really a very visual critter at heart in my private, reflective moments, so I’ll happily and eagerly watch movies with stunning cinematography, haunting soundtracks, trenchant social commentary, and all sorts of other film school values, even if the plots holding those elements together make absolutely no sense whatsoever in any world that real human beings inhabit. Plot schmot, look at the lighting on that rotting, dead zebra, will you?!?
So, without any further ado, here are ten of My Favorite Movies That Don’t Make Any Sense at All. Please feel free to share your thoughts about your own favorite movies that don’t make any sense at all in the comments section. Because, odds are, I’ve seen all of them already, since that’s how I roll, yo.
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985): Crazy sexiness from Peter Greenaway with one-legged women, swans, Vermeer, twins, zebras and OOZ at the ZOO. This movie contains perhaps the greatest film soundtrack ever recorded, by Michael Nyman; “Angelfish Decay” and “Swan Rot” are songs to absolutely die for, both of them variations on the same crazed theme, as is film closer “L’Escargot.”
Eraserhead (1976): David Lynch’s first full-length feature film remains the sort of movie one rolls out to test the stomach of someone who claims to be a student of disturbing film, though many of them quail before it’s completed its run. I’ve probably watched it at least a dozen times over the years, and it took at least ten viewings before I was able to see some of the humor in the thing. Now I chuckle, where I once shuddered. If they showed this in High School sex education class, I guarantee you that teen pregnancy rates would plummet.
The Fountain (2006): An utterly beautiful movie by Daron Aronofsky, featuring the lovely and talented Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiss as a couple doomed by something to something, although I’m not quite sure what. I actually wept openly near the end of this movie, though I have absolutely no idea why.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972): The best flick made by the father of film surrealism, Luis Bunuel. Every time I plan a meal with guests, I ponder this movie as a cautionary tale of how the simplest of life’s activities can go woefully, terribly wrong, when things don’t make any sense at all. Then I decide to eat alone.
Dead Man (1995): Johnny Depp! Jim Jarmusch! Star power aplenty, with loads of hipster-friendly cameos! But, uh, is William Blake dead or alive, and what about that Indian, and Iggy Pop wearing a dress, eating someone’s forearm? Do those things make sense? A: No, they don’t, but this movie moves me profoundly, regardless.
The Holy Mountain (1973): I debated about whether to include this film from acclaimed surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky or his (slightly) more well-known El Topo. I picked this one, because it’s more visually spectacular, and makes dramatically less sense. Perfect!
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1974): Okay, so let’s take a really popular rock band, at the peak of their powers, and have them film a live concert in an ancient auditorium with no audience around. That makes sense, right? Uh, no. No it doesn’t. It makes no sense at all, though the results of this ill-conceived epic provide some of the best footage of perhaps the best band of the 1970s, making no sense whatsoever to anyone, anywhere.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989): So, there’s this guy, with bits of metal stuffed inside him, and then this big drill thing bursts out of him, and he uses it to kill some woman, and then he becomes some sort of weird human/trash-heap hybrid, and some other stuff happens, and then there’s this scene that’s, like, stuff going on with this big machine-guy thing, and, uh . . . well, let’s just say that it’s beautiful and horrible to watch, but it makes no sense at all.
Mulholland Dr. (2001): David Lynch again! With some really pretty women doing some really sexy stuff, although why they’re doing it is left to trouble the imagination of the viewers, who, by the time they get to those scenes, won’t be in the least bit aroused, because they will be too busy pondering who the little old people in the box and the scary guy in the dumpster behind the diner were.
Zardoz (1974): The usually-dependable John Boorman’s Zardoz totally deserves to cap this list, if for no other reason than the presence of the giant flying stone head that lectures the exterminators about how the gun is good, and the penis is evil. You really, truly have to see this one to believe just how little sense a movie can make, right from its opening scene, no less. Let me end this post with a masterpiece of nonsense and idiocy: the Zardoz trailer.
UPDATE NOTE: Click here for a 2020 update of my 50 All-Time Favorite Films. Most of these are on it, not surprisingly . . .