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The Financial Express

10 mind-bending movies you shouldn’t miss


A scene from the film 12 Angry Men. Source: IMDB A scene from the film 12 Angry Men. Source: IMDB

Every now and then we want to watch movies that are something more than cheesy romcoms. We love to watch movies that kick our imagination into overdrive and make us desperate to crack its hard-to-decipher code. In this list, you'll find such movies that'll take you on a mind-trip during this lockdown— leaving you replaying scenes in your head, perplexed for days, and demanding answers to a zillion questions. So here it is, without further ado, 10 mind-bending movies in chronological order, curated from a great pantheon especially for Bangladeshi movie lovers.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

1. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E. G. Marshall, Jack Warden

Plot: 12 Angry Men creates a compelling courtroom drama revolving around the judicial process in a murder case. An 18-year-old boy from a local slum has been charged with murdering his own father. And every piece of evidence and every witness suggests that the boy is guilty. After the closing arguments have been made, the judge asks the jury of 12 people to give a final verdict. The juries then move to the backroom to make a unanimous decision. But the seemingly open-and-shut case makes a quick turn when juror 8, Mr Davies (played by Henry Fonda), voted not guilty. He looks at the apparent proof with reasonable doubt and tries to convince the other 11 men that the doubt can be real. The discussion, in the meantime, unravels the jurors' multifaceted characteristics and personal prejudices.

2. The Usual Suspects (1995)

 Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Spacey

Plot: The Usual Suspects is hailed for delivering one of the most memorable plot twists in movie history. The movie revolves around five criminals who meet in a police lineup and plan to pull off a heist. When the crime doesn't go as planned, the men discover that they're being used as pawns in a grand conspiracy masterminded by the enigmatic crime lord, Keyser Söze. The film's story is unfurled through flashbacks—with the crippled member of the lineup, "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey) relaying the story to the customs agent, Dave Kujan. After hearing everything Verbal says, Kujan thinks that Verbal's friend and co-conspirator, Dean Keaton is Keyser Söze. But when all appears to be resolved, Kujan discovers that the details of Verbal's confession were lifted from notes and details that litter his own office, and worse yet, Verbal himself has been Keyser Söze all along!

3. Se7en (1995)

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, John C McGinley

Plot: Se7en tells the story of two detectives, Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt) who are on a mission to track down the serial killer, John Doe, who's been carrying out murders inspired by the Bible's seven deadly sins—sloth, gluttony, pride, greed, envy, wrath, and lust. In disturbingly symbolic ways, Doe forces his victims to succumb to their most vile vices. When just two more sins are left—envy and wrath, John Doe turns himself in. Doe meets the detectives in the middle of the desert with a single cardboard box. While Somerset goes to open the box, Doe tells Mills that he has raped and decapitated Mills' pregnant wife out of envy. And the box probably contains her head. Then grief-stricken Mills shoots Doe several times, committing the final sin, wrath—and fulfilling Doe's crooked mission thereby.

4. The Matrix (1999)

Director: The Wachowskis

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano

Plot: Known for being one of the most thought-provoking films ever made, The Matrix features Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) as an average guy—a software author by day, who likes to dabble in the world of computer hacking by night. He's known online to other hackers as Neo. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a fellow hacker, explains to Neo that the matrix is a fake reality that's been programmed to hide the real world. For Morpheus and others like him who have awoken within the matrix, Neo is the messiah who's been presaged to deliver mankind to its salvation from the system.

5. Memento (2000)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Plot: Christopher Nolan's magnificent breakthrough film, Memento, is a movie that's sequenced in reverse order—a cinematic mind-loop that's worthy of praise. It tells the story of Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), an ex-insurance investigator who suffers from short-term memory loss as a result of an incident related to his wife's murder, which is also the last thing he remembers. Leonard utilizes photographs and tattoos to trace information he can't remember in the pursuit of catching his wife's murderer. The storyline is presented forward chronologically in black-and-white sequences and reverse chronologically in color sequences. Searching for his wife's murderer, he finds out in the end that his wife survived the home invasion he'd initially thought had resulted in her death. Turns out she was indirectly killed later by Leonard himself.

6. American Psycho (2000)

Director: Mary Harron

Cast: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Samantha Mathis

Plot: Set in New York City in the 1980s, the plot of American Psycho sees the impeccably charming, successful, and wealthy investment banker Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), who hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends. He's a homicidal psychopath who thinks that anything anyone does is reason enough to deserve death. Although Bateman is cruel, he's highly meticulous, careful, and completely remorseless. However, his final murder goes wrong, and he doesn't see a way out. So he calls his lawyer and confesses. But Bateman is so loved and admired that no one believes him. It's not until the end of the movie that we learn for the first time, alongside Bateman, that many of the people he confessed to killing are actually alive and he psychotically imagines his murders.

7. The Machinist (2004)

Director: Brad Anderson

Cast: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, John Sharian, Michael Ironside

Plot: The Machinist tells the story of Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale), a machinist who lives a solitary life where he struggles with insomnia—and consequently has become physically emaciated. The only solace that he seems to take in life is in his regular meetings with the prostitute Stevie. He also has an infatuation with a waitress working in an airport diner named Maria. A workplace accident alienates him from his co-workers. And he thinks that one or some of his co-workers - are out to get him, using a phantom employee called Ivan as their front. But as his obsession with finding out who Ivan is and if he really does exist begins to grow, it makes his life even more stressful and difficult. And in his pursuit, Trevor comes to discover the truth he has been desperately running away from.

8. The Prestige (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis, David Bowie

Plot: Set in the late 1800s, The Prestige incarnates the themes of magic, deception, rivalry, fame, obsession, and consequence. The film features Borden (Christian Bale) and Angier (Hugh Jackman) as rival magicians who consistently outperform each other, mesmerise their audiences, and deliver twist upon twist—constantly elevating their rivalry toward perilous consequences.

9. Shutter Island (2010)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer

Plot: In Scorsese's 2010 adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel, a U.S. Marshal, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigates the disappearance of a murderer from a hospital for the criminally insane on the Shutter Island. As Teddy's obsessive hunt drives him deeper into the mysteries of the hospital, his own secrets—from the violence of World War Two and the murder of his wife by an arsonist named Andrew Laeddis—start to emerge. Teddy learns, in the epilogue, that he is actually Laeddis, who murdered his manic-depressive wife after she drowned their children. And the events of previous days were staged by the doctors to help him snap out of his conspiracy-laden insanity.

10. Inception (2010)

Director: Christopher Nolan  

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy

Plot: The magnum opus of Christopher Nolan's career so far, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Don Cobb, an expert in corporate espionage, who is tasked with assembling a team that can achieve inception. In the simplest terms, inception is the infiltration of a person's subconscious to extract or plant an idea. This is a highly sought-after skill among the wealthy elite that comes with a big payout—and perhaps even bigger consequences. Cobb agrees to take on this final job—a job that pushes him to the limits of sanity and threatens to jeopardize the entire mission and the lives of his team. Although Inception is full of twists and turns, it's the closing few seconds of the film that really leaves you perpetually pondering over the elliptical mystery.

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