In 1991, following the critical and commercial triumph of his brilliant The Thin Blue Line, director Errol Morris attempted something even harder than getting an innocent man off Death Row: making Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time into an accessible, audience-friendly, major motion picture. The resulting film is, at long last, available today on DVD and Blu-ray via the fine folks at Criterion. It’s awfully good — though its in-depth discussions of quantum mechanics and black holes and the Big Bang are bound to make those of us who nodded off in science class feel a bit out of our element. Then again, some movies, with their convoluted storylines or surrealistic imagery or intellectual subject matter, have the (probably?) unintended side effect of merely spotlighting our intellectual shortcomings. Here are a few other movies that made us feel just a little stupider.
20. The Usual Suspects
It’s not that the movie’s all that hard to follow as it’s going, or that the now-legendary Big Twist renders the movie all that hard to resituate on repeat viewings. But if you (like your film editor) were one of those original viewers, in that summer of 1995, who saw Bryan Singer’s neo-noir mystery cold, it was awfully difficult not to feel like a schmuck afterwards — i.e., How could I have missed that? How did it not even occur to me? And we never believed anything in a movie again.