By R. Liaw
The following are spoiler-free reviews!
1. The Truman Show (1998)
Director: Peter Weir
Prepare yourself mentally for this one; I watched it 3 years ago and still think about the meaning behind this movie on a daily basis. This is a story about Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), who unknowingly lives his whole life in an orchestrated TV show set. His every move is monitored, his future calculated to escalate views and his friends and family are paid actors. Truman eventually gets cynical, and has to decide his next move. The phenomenal plot, exceptional acting and notable directing landed the film multiple Golden Globe nominations and a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. There are many philosophical levels to this motion picture which could be discussed in depth, but the focus is mostly about venturing into the unknown and having to act decisively when the unexpected arises. This is an absolute must-watch, so add it to your list right now; even if it is a fictional storyline, the movie will have you approaching the theory of “we live in a simulation” differently, since Truman is oblivious to this assemble at the start.
2. Inception (2010)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Personally, I consider this one of my favourite movies ever. I cannot get my mind around how they even thought about creating a story like this, where the concepts are complex yet the movie has no plot holes. We follow Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), as he enters people’s minds and is able to steal secrets from their subconscious through their dreams. He wishes to go back to his family, but his dangerous job and dark backstory do not allow it. He is offered the job of Inception (to place an idea inside someone’s mind), where he may have a chance at redeeming himself, but faces unparalleled threats as he does so. This synopsis cannot describe how good this film is, just trust me and watch it. They venture deep into the psychological realm of the mind, with abstract conceptions explained as tangible, everyday forms to the audience. Something I adored about this, is that a sort of “loop” is created with the beginning and end. After finishing it, I recommend watching the first scene (about 10 minutes in) again, and you will fully understand the meaning and grasp the start of the film, which is relatively unclear at first. I have genuinely never seen a movie like this; phenomenal to say the least. It kept me up at night, reflecting about the very existence and reality of our world. It would be impossible for the movie to have ended in a better way, and the cast is amazing! They delivered the performance that made Inception come alive. You will have both the song “Je ne regrette rien” and major theories stuck in your thoughts.
3. Shutter Island (2010)
Director: Martin Scorsese
The pacing starts off slow and steady, with a straightforward story about U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) investigating the escape of a murderess patient from an asylum located in an island. Eventually, the plot thickens, and Teddy starts to figure out some suspicious stories about the place he finds himself in, and must attempt to leave the island alive. The ending is absolutely mind-blowing, I would never have guessed it. The way in which they piece all of the missing parts together was very impressive. To me, the best movies are the ones where you rush to google search theories and explanations after you are done watching it, and this one left one particular thought lingering in my mind for days: what really is insanity, and how can you define it? Is it possible to prove that you are not insane, even with the State against you? The character of Teddy is beautifully written, even though we think we understand his motives and personality, we gradually learn more and more about him as events progress. I could go on about this film for hours, but I would just advise you to watch it then come discuss the ending with me; I have a few theories!
4. Fight Club (1999)
Director: David Fincher
I watched this recently, and before I did, people were always telling me this movie was one of the best they’ve ever seen, that it was a masterpiece… And I can guarantee you that it is not overrated; It is worth the “hype” surrounding it. It is the story of a man (Edward Norton) whose life is overtaken by insomnia and depression. That is, until he meets and goes live with Tyler (Brad Pitt), an interesting soap maker who lives life on the edge, not thinking about the consequences. They start “Fight Club”, where men tired of their mundane lives gather at night to fight their frustration away. It eventually develops into something bigger and more dangerous, with Tyler behind it. Even if you watch the trailer, it will not prepare you for the
moment of catharsis where there is a HUGE plot twist, I guarantee it. The characters’ personalities are explored through the actions they take, and the protagonist’s personal narration throughout the events. There is one scene which I had to pause the movie and just stared blankly at the screen for a few seconds, astonished at how one sentence changed everything. The audience replays the whole movie in their mind with a different perspective on things, questioning everything they understood about it earlier. The pace may seem slow at the start, but I promise that that will change once you see the whole movie. I loved this so much that the next day after watching it, I ordered the book it is based on by Chuck Palahniuk and am currently reading it.
5. Interstellar (2014)
Director: Christopher Nolan
I just watched this movie for the first time, finishing it about 3 minutes ago, and I write this with tears in my eyes and a hopeful feeling in my heart. It follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot living in a future Earth that is bordering the inhabitable, and he must venture into the deepest part of space to look for another planet for the human race’s future. The physics of space and time behind it are very well explained, even if they rely mostly on theories. Whilst being a great science-fiction movie, it also delves into a father’s love for his daughter, and how there is so much we do not know about the universe. Interstellar won a very well deserved Academy Award for best visual effects, which I must say; the visuals are stunning. To me, the ending of the movie is one of the things that make it so spectacular. As well as creating a loop, the idea of eternal paternal love is also presented. A beautifully written and executed film, definitely up there in my favourites list!