I bet you think this is going to a list of badly-acted B movies. Well, not exactly! Some are certainly in questionable taste and others….you’ll see and decide for yourself.
1. AMERICAN HISTORY X
I love Edward Norton and his performance in this movie is one of his best and also probably the most upsetting. He portrays a young man drawn into Neo-Fascist community – from quiet teen to violent adult. The movie is bleak and replete with scenes of shocking violence and jaw-dropping racisim.
Janvier Bardem was acclaimed for his performance here, scooping awards at Cannes and even getting nominated for an Oscar. To receive the nomination, the judging committee had to watch this film once, but I doubt they could bear to sit through it again. Bardem plays a drug dealer diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the combination of the dark and disturbing world matched with Bardem’s ever-worsening situation marks this as one of the finest films you’ll never, ever want to see again. Don’t be fooled by the title.
3. REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Requiem for a Dream completely will blow you away the first time you see it. Maybe this is the movie they should show to kids in middle school to convince them not to do drugs? Because it’s way more effective than any after-school special. Once you see what Jennifer Connelly gets herself into just to score some dope, you’ll never be the same.
4. THE BIRTH OF A NATION
This movie is considered one of the first ever movies in the sense that we see them today-with a coherent story, use of jump cuts, and a long running time, which is all good. But then you realize the movie is a heartily enthusiastic celebration of the Ku Klux Klan. Real film buffs and historians will find it worth watching but for the rest of us, a grim example of days gone by to be left on the shelf.
5. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgesse’s “unfilmable” dystopian novel is now seen as a seminal movie-but at the time was banned and panned for it’s constant violence and the depiction of rape. A Clockwork Orange is a difficult movie to talk about, because it’s one of those ‘you have to see it for yourself’ kind of films.
6. THE ELEPHANT MAN
Director Lynch excelled himself here with The Elephant Man. The movie tells the true-ish story of John Merrick, played by British thespian actor, John Hurt, a grotesquely deformed man with a heart of gold. The film shows the despairing plight of humanity and is just too depressing to watch twice. The performances are amazing and the prosthetics brilliant.
7. THE ROAD
I read the book, shivering through most of it and yet had this yearning to see the movie. As graphic and dismal as the book was, it’s nothing compared to the cold bleak relentless scenes shot in shades of gray. It’s the story of a man trying to keep his son and self alive in a post-apolcayptic wasteland. Full of misery but performed beautifully.
8. SOPHIE’S CHOICE
The film itself has become a byword for onscreen misery, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t see the film once. Meryl Streep’s performance is typically brilliant-she allegedly only shot the “choice” scene with one outcome, and refused to perform the other. The tale of her struggling with what she did during the second world war is harrowing and devastating in equal measure. It might be almost synonymous with sadness, but it’s something you have to see to appreciate fully.
Frankly I couldn’t bring myself to watch this movie even once. Every time I saw the trailer I had to turn away. The story line is about greed, power and human sacrifices. In the Maya civilization, a peaceful tribe is brutally attacked by warriors seeking slaves and human beings for sacrifice for their gods. Jaguar Paw hides his pregnant wife and his son in a deep hole nearby their tribe and is captured while fighting with his people. An eclipse spares his life from the sacrifice and later he has to fight to survive and save his beloved family.
10. GANGS OF NEW YORK
I was exhausted after watching this film. Filled with horrible violence, filth and poverty, it’s quite a snapshot of life in the Five Points in New York City. At one point I actually did leave the screening room and fled to the ladie’s room to avoid one of the bloodiest scenes. The narrative and characters are weak but the general sweep and spectacle of the whole thing makes it worth a look. I’ll seen any movie Scorcese does, so I went, but I’ll never watch it again.