The usually accepted belief is that great movies are rewatchable multiple number of times. That might be true in most cases, but not in the case of today’s list of movies. This list comprises of films that deal with very challenging themes and subjects, and therefore, you can only watch them once. These movies also burst the myth that movies are — or should be — just for entertainment, and that if a movie is not entertaining, it must be bad. “Entertainment” is too hyped a word in case of movies. The primary purpose of any form of art is to “affect” you. Cinema is no different. Any film that affects you in certain sense is great cinema. With that said, let’s dive right into the list.
10. Oldboy (2003)
This 2004 classic has everything thrown in: brutal gut wrenching violence and gore, protagonist at unease, a shady antagonist, and incest. Watching this movie for the first time will certainly blow your minds, and you’d probably feel disturbed for sometime. I did. But its cult status can’t be denied. It is horrifying, yet mesmerizing, and inspire two remakes.
9. Funny Games (2007)
Two psychopathic young men take a family hostage in their cabin.. A sadistic game of cruelty starts with the bet that the captives will not be able to sustain by next morning. You keep watching the movie with the hope that eventually someone will escape their murderous intentions. Alas ! With a wink, they drown the last of their captives and again start looking for their next target. Don’t be surprised if you feel very angry after watching this film.
8. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
‘Requiem For A Dream’ is a movie-viewing experience that you may never have had before — and never will. How drugs destroy four lives who aspire to be great — but succumb to addictions — may seem to be a simple enough premise, but it is the innovative and bold story-telling of Aronofsky that stands out and takes this film to the heights of greatness. Also, few movies have such devastatingly affecting ending as this film does.
7. Dogville (2003)
‘Dogville’ is a very unusual film; but it is also one of the most powerful films you’ll ever see, especially, if you get the message that Lars Von Trier is trying to drive home. By choosing a very minimalistic style of presentation — that looks more like a theatre than a film — Trier squarely focuses on the characters and their intent. There are few films that have shaken me to the core as this one.
6. Irreversible (2002)
Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge. I know it is a very disturbing film, but at the same time I think it has a clear message in it. A simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect it is a film that shows how cruel time can be.
5. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
Brutally honest in its rendering, and unflinchingly told, ’12 years A Slave’ never shies away from its motive, which is to show us the mirror in which we can see the extremities of cruelty that humans are capable of committing on other fellow humans. This film is equally relevant in today’s times when the definition of slavery might have changed, but we still have people who have to fight for their freedom every single day. Read more ..
4. Dogtooth (2009)
‘Dogtooth’ challenges the conventional wisdom of filmmaking by making all its characters unlikeable — detestable, even. But there also lies the reason why ‘Dogtooth’ works so well; because it isn’t afraid to go to uncomfortable places to reveal the dark aspect of human psychology. As disturbing and startling ‘Dogtooth’ is, it also funny in a sad kind of way. Ultimately, it is as raw as modern filmmaking can get.
3. Shame (2011)
On the face of it, ‘Shame’ is about sex-addiction; but it could so easily have been about any other addiction. How often we try to masquerade our inner fears and weaknesses under the veil of addiction ? Shame deals with that. It also disentangles an aspect of human behavior like no other film this century has managed to do. World came to know about McQueen from Oscar winning ’12 Years A Slave’. But watch ‘Shame’ and you will realize why McQueen is such a great talent. The way he lets camera linger around as if it is a silent, invisible person — and not just an image capturing tool — is pure genius.
2. The Piano Teacher (2001)
A deeply disturbing examination — what else can you expect out of Michael Haneke — of desire and desperation in love, ‘The Piano Teacher’ may leave you shaken by the time it ends. Not an easy watch by any means, the film will be richly rewarding to only those who patiently and thoughtfully strive to absorb its subtle nuances — after having gotten through the initial shock. In the end, and if you look closely, Haneke’s message with this film is: Love has many shades, and not all of them are beautiful.
1. Amour (2012)
‘Amour’, a french word, means love. And no film this century depicted the pain and the suffering that comes along with love in such a poignantly touching way than ‘Amour’. It is a story than can be difficult to sit through, but the payoff — if you want to call the emotionally devastating climax that — is huge. You will be left thinking about the movie for days, even weeks. Such is the impact of Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’.