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20 Mind-Bending Movies Guaranteed to Make You Feel Stupid

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.

Kevin Spacey in "The Usual Suspects"

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.

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19 comments
vesey
vesey

i have seen many of these films, none of which made me feel stupid...........

B. Jay
B. Jay

If you feel stupid after watching these films, then you weren't smart to begin with

katrax
katrax

Mindwalk 1990

Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston, John Heard.  

Based on the book "The Tao of Physics"

ChrisShaw
ChrisShaw

you missed memento and eternal sunshine from that list...

AllanWJanssen
AllanWJanssen

As a matter of fact, Burton is about 6'5" and he sat right in front of me ........, so what I mostly saw was the back of his head, and I had to go back the next night and pay to see it again!

AllanWJanssen
AllanWJanssen

I got news for ya bunky, I saw it at the North American press premier in 

Toronto in 1968 (?) at the Glendale theatre and not only "got it" right away, but had to spend twenty minutes after the movie ended explaining it to Pierre Burton and a bunch of other reporters!

SaschaLewis
SaschaLewis

I've only seen a few of these films so an expert I'm not, but PI most certainly made me feel pretty darn dumb.

NiceSean
NiceSean

How can you have a list of Mind-bending movies and not have a single film by Alejandro Jodorowsky! If you'd ever seen Holy Mountain, El Topo or even Sante Sangre they would have been 1, 2 and 3 respectively. And how about Tetsuo? Or Akira? Not a bad list all in all tho. There are a couple on there that I'll have to watch now.

RodneyWelch
RodneyWelch

I suspect "Chinatown" didn't make the cut because it's become a mainstream classic, but anyone who watches the movie the first time is going to to have a fairly challenging time keeping the many pieces of the story together in your head. It begins with a case of adultery, which then involves murder, and then there's this nefarious plot to rob farmers of their water,  which has something to do with a retirement home, and then there's this thing about incest ... oh, and it has something to do with Chinatown. Seasoned and patient viewers get it, but there likely aren't many people who see it the first time who could explain the plot to their friends.

anoynamouse
anoynamouse

First, I have to admit...I'm not as cool as I thought I was as I don't know 33.33% of these movies.


I told myself I was going to throw my laptop across the room if Primer was on this list...and you gave it #1...WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Let me explain something to you...the movie is not that mind blowing great by any stretch and the plot is not that impressive. Is it hard to follow? YES! Because the freaking guy who directed (1) had no idea how to tell a good story and (2) I think it was by design. Complicating an idea in an attempt to confuse the viewer hardly makes for a mind bending or "smart" (the opposite of stupid). 


Please people...before you watch this movie...go to IMDB and read the reviews that challenge this mmediocre film. To put it ahead of real movies from real directors (Mullholland) is just "stupid". 


PS. 2001 only made stupid people feel stupid...the rest of us could live with it's message. 


PSS. Donnie Darko...really?

Boomslang
Boomslang

I'd of thought Jacob Ladder would've been on here. 

thawking
thawking

I saw The Usual Suspects in 1995, and I did indeed feel like a schmuck

LeahTaylor
LeahTaylor

i came just to make sure that "primer" was on here. OF COURSE it is. well done, sir.

anoynamouse
anoynamouse

@LeahTaylor  No that movie was blurred on purpose...it was not impressive and couldn't make one feel stupid because you cannot feel stupid when a monkey writes a story on a wall with it's own feces. Of course you cannot understand it. Give me a week to rewrite a real script and I could have told the same story in a far better way that humans could ingest it!

ohai
ohai

@anoynamouse @LeahTaylorIf you think the script purposely obscures the movie, fine, go ahead and just look at a written or visual overview of what is going on in the movie, and I bet you will be similarly baffled. There's some compicated ideas in there, even when not obscured by the story-telling film.

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