The Game (1997)

This movie is difficult to explain without spoilers. It’s the kind you just have to watch and see what unfolds. Answer each of the following questions with its corresponding number. The sum total of your answers will score your suitability.

 

TEST:

How cerebral are you?

Who cares/ wants to know?—4

I’m logical but still easy-going.—3

Currently overthinking my answer…—2

The question is too abstract.—1

 

When is it acceptable for a Psychological Thriller to be far-fetched or even implausible?

Whenever—4

Most of the Time—3

Seldom—2

Never—1

 

Must all improbable elements have an elaborately detailed background explanation?

No—4

Sometimes—3

Preferably—2

Absolutely—1

 

How does the thought of non-stop twists and turns right up to the end make you feel?

Intrigued—4

Optimistic —3

Skeptical—2

Anxious —1

 

Is a script equally dependent upon the actors and the writer(s) for execution of the plot?

Always—4

Generally—3

Rarely—2

Doesn’t Matter—1

 

TOTAL:

16-20 = What are you waiting for? Press play!

12-15 = Your satisfaction will depend on your attitude. Don’t overthink or analyze it; just enjoy.

1-11 = Skip it.

 

 

Gaslight (1944)

gas·light /`gasīte

verb: to psychologically manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity

Allow me to explain something, yet again: when the dictionary defines a phenomenon you know it’s persistent. You really don’t remember my explanation from the last time we argued about it? When you find out the movie, from which it’s derived showcases none other than Ingrid Bergman you know it’s going to be demonstrated in the most captivating way possible. No, really; Ms. Bergman is a good actress. I’m not being condescending; you’re too sensitive. It’s also interesting to note the movie version was adapted from a stage play. You’re getting confused, again. But at least I’m here to help you, despite these little episodes you keep having. Of course you don’t remember. It’s OK; I’ll help you through it. Trust me—it’s not like you have something I want but are smart enough to keep it concealed.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

I hate it when a trailer for a great movie is all wrong. Who edits these? No one would ever be interested based on this random montage of clips. And that other one gives too much away. The one I’m imagining could work for the theater, TV, or radio. This would be my ideal splicing:

Narrator: This is a story about a man named Harold Crick and his wristwatch. Harold Crick was a man of infinite numbers, endless calculations and remarkably few words. And his wristwatch said even less…

*             *             *

Queen Latifah: I’m Penny Escher. I’m the assistant your publishers hired.

Emma Thompson (the Narrator): The spy.

Queen Latifah: The assistant. I provide the same services as a secretary.

Emma: I don’t need a secretary.

QL: Then I will have to find some other way of occupying my time.

Emma: Like watching me like a vulture in case I get distracted, because they—the publishers—think I have writer’s block, isn’t that right?

QL: Do you have writer’s block?

*             *             *

Narrator: And although this was an extraordinary day—a day to be remembered for the rest of Harold’s life—Harold just thought it was a Wednesday.

Will Ferrell: “Harold thought it was Wednesday.” Did you hear it?

Lady at bus stop: Who’s Harold?
Will: I am.

Lady: Don’t worry, Harold. It’s Wednesday.

*             *             *

Will: Dave, I’m being followed.
Tony Hale: How are you being followed? You aren’t moving.

*             *             *

Linda Hunt: Mr. Crick, you have a voice speaking to you?

Will Ferrell: No, not TO me—ABOUT me. I’m somehow involved in some sort of story, like I’m a character in my own life. But the problem is that the voice comes and goes, like there are other parts of the story not being told to me. And I need to find out what those other parts are before it’s too late.

*             *             *

Emma Thompson: Is there any way to see the people who aren’t going to get better? …I’d like to see, if at all possible, the ones who aren’t going to make it. You know, the dead-for-sure ones.

ER nurse: I’m sorry, are you suffering from anything?

Emma: Just writer’s block.

*             *             *

Dustin Hoffman: “Little did he know.” That means there’s something he doesn’t know, which means there’s something you don’t know, did you know that?

*             *             *

Emma Thompson: I’m not in the business of saving lives; in fact, just the opposite.

*             *             *

Will Ferrell: Ten seconds ago you said you wouldn’t help me.

Dustin Hoffman: It’s been a very revealing ten seconds, Harold.

*             *             *

Queen Latifah: I will gladly and quietly help you kill Harold Crick.

*             *             *

Dustin Hoffman: …The last thing to determine conclusively is whether you’re in a comedy or a tragedy. To quote Italo Calvino, “The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death.” Tragedy, you die. Comedy, you get hitched.

*             *             *

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Listen, I’m a big supporter of fixing potholes and erecting swing sets and building shelters. I am MORE than happy to pay those taxes. I’m just not such a big fan of the percentage that the government uses for national defense, corporate bailouts and campaign discretionary funds. So I didn’t pay those taxes. I think I sent a letter to that effect with my return.

Will Farrell: Would it be the letter that begins, “Dear Imperialist Swine”?

*             *             *

Dustin Hoffman: Have you met anyone recently who might loath the very core of you?

Will: I just started auditing a woman who told me to get bent.

Dustin: Well, that sounds like a comedy. Try to develop that.

*             *             *

Maggie Gyllenhaal: Go home, Harold.

Will: OK… You made those cookies for me, didn’t you? You were just trying to be nice and I blew it. This may sound like gibberish to you but I think I’m in a tragedy.

*             *             *

Kristin Chenoweth: So can you tell us the title of the book you haven’t written, yet?

Emma Thompson: I’m calling it Death and Taxes.

*             *             *

Will: I may already be dead, just not typed.

*             *             *

Will: Karen Eiffel, my name is Harold Crick; I believe you’re writing a story about me.

Emma: Is this a joke?

*             *             *

Emma: …It’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die and then dies. But if the man does know he’s going to die and dies anyway, dies willingly, knowing he could stop it then… I mean, isn’t that the type of man you want to keep alive?

 

The Truman Show (1998)

What was ahead of its time—many people dismissed the premise of a TV studio adopting a child, around which a reality show would be taped, as ridiculously exaggerated—may now seem trivial or irrelevant. The lengths to which The Entertainment Industry will go for an audience (not to mention advertising, including product placement) always surprise us for some reason. In light of the births of current celebrity babies—the mothers of whom take future brand identity into consideration when naming them—it might be wise to revisit this movie and consider the impact of a scenario that’s not likely to be hypothetical for much longer.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

People handle internal feelings in different ways. Children, for example, often create imaginary friends. But what happens when an adult latches on to an inanimate object, which is the only thing that can keep him from becoming a recluse? Furthermore, what happens when his eccentric hobby becomes impossible to hide? No one can agree on how to treat a social pariah; reactions vary from disgust—outrage at challenging accepted convention—to patronizing indulgence—fear of confrontation.

This young man’s transformation finally occurs when he feels the safety of a surrounding community, who will love him through an intense period of inner turmoil. When the strong desire to be right clashes with the strong desire to fit in, the most vulnerable becomes collateral damage. However, everyone benefits when they redirect their efforts towards patience and sympathy for someone, who’s trying to work through past trauma and figure out how to grow up.

Dark City (1998)

It’s hard to imagine any alternate dystopian reality prior to “The Matrix” but Roger Ebert considered this the best film of the year it was released. Though thoroughly entertaining, the aforementioned blockbuster borrowed heavily from this movie, specifically several pieces of the set. What it lacks in state-of-the-art visual effects it more than makes up for with mysterious twists and turns without losing any of the philosophical/ intellectual references for which its counterpart is so famous.

Buster’s Mal Heart (2016)

Writer/ director, Sarah Adina Smith’s description of her film as a mix of “Donnie Darko” and “Bad Santa” can only be due to its main character’s delightfully curious nature throughout this murky story. Buster/ Jonah’s reprobate past is behind him as he begins a new life with his religious wife, Marty. While working the lonely night shift at a hotel, Jonah is drawn to a philosophical—and slightly paranoid—drifter, the extent whose influence is gradually revealed. The choice to rotate between three phases of Buster/ Jonah’s existence until the startling confluence of past, present and future is bold, to say the least. But the real expertise is displayed in the casting of Rami Malek as Buster. His performance was essential to the telling of a story that will stay with you long after the credits roll.