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My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

The Student News Site of Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

My Jag News

Top 5 most thought provoking films of all time

Top 5 most thought provoking films of all time

by Sumner Strickland| staff writer

I recently saw someone’s list about the most thought provoking films of all time. The list included titles such as Titanic and The Matrix, and this made me very sad because I thought people might actually buy what this guy was saying. So I knew I had to make a list dealing with real thought provoking films – not a conformist list of semi intelligent movies. So for anyone who reads this, my mission for you is to watch all of these films and actually think about them. Don’t just gloss over them like anything else.

5. The Master

If you can watch The Master and then twenty minutes later try to tell me what it’s about coherently, I applaud you. Freddy Quell a WWII vet returns home, completely disturbed and crazy. While having trouble coming back to standard life he meets Philip Seymour Hoffman “The Master” who is the leader of a cult organization that’s designed around people being the highest form of living. “The Master” takes Freddy under his wing as he tries to cure him of his “animal instincts” but in the end is not sure if Freddy can be helped. The film makes us think about many things, but two major things for sure. Has religion or belief in a higher power destroyed our will to think for ourselves. Are people a higher being or just another form of animal. This film will either light a fire underneath you or turn on a light switch. Either way it will get you thinking.

4. Barton Fink

Way before No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers did movies such as Blood Simple and Millers Crossing. But by far their most thought provoking film was Barton Fink. In Barton Fink, John Turturro is a playwright turned screenwriter for a big movie studio. He is assigned to write a wrestling picture but has a severe case of writer’s block, he then meets John Goodman who’s a traveling salesman and that’s all I can tell you. The film is a form of artistic expression and style that lacks now a days. Many argue that the Coen brothers first classic was Blood Simple, I disagree I feel that Barton Fink was when the Coen’s truly found their artistic style. So for those who enjoy art and truly honest films, this is complete movie bliss. For those who enjoy Twilight and Transformers, there’s the door.

3. There Will Be Blood

This may be the second Paul Thomas Anderson entry on this list but it’s entirely for good reason. In There Will Be Blood, the story revolves around Daniel Plainview played by Daniel Day Lewis  a capitalist oil man, and his son H.W. Plainview (who we learn earlier in the movie is not Daniel’s actual son) The two are sent to go look at the Sunday ranch which is suspected of having an “ocean of oil” under the land. I’ve seen this movie four times now and each time I rewatch it, my opinion about what it means completely changes. First I thought it was an allegory for capitalism, then I thought it had to do with religious values brainwashing society, then I thought it was about Daniel Plainview. That’s what’s so great about the movie.  It can literally be almost any interpretation you can think of. People can gripe all they want about it being too long too boring too whatever, the only reason they complain is because they can’t see past the concrete. And if you still don’t like the movie find someone to watch it with and discuss it, argue, defend, that’s what real films are supposed to do, force you to have an opinion.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Personally if I hadn’t gone back and watched this movie a few more times it wouldn’t be on the list. But once you break the surface barrier and see what’s underneath it’s such a magnificent film. Looking back at it now it’s hard to imagine where we’d be without 2001. There wouldn’t  be There Will Be Blood, there’d be no Taxi Driver, etc. The movie revolves around three separate pieces. One about the birth of man (as hairy apes), then onto man’s space exploration, then finally to an abstract ending piece which people still can’t decipher to this day. SPOILERS AHEAD because I want to talk about the ending. At the end of the movie HAL the computer has been dismantled and the last surviving astronaut goes into hyper space. Until he finally reaches the end, which is a room where he becomes three different people that each age rapidly. He then lies in bed dying and reaches out his hand to a black prism object which appears throughout the film. So what is the black box? It’s man’s search for an end, a meaning to existence but, when he reaches out his hand, what is it? It’s nothing. There’s nothing there. It’s just an idea. There’s no real meaning to existence besides the endless curiosity we have about what it could all mean. And then the final shot of the film is an unborn fetus floating in outer space, which represents our undying curiosity. Just a theory.

1. Waking Life

It’s hard to explain this movie because there’s nothing to explain. Waking Life is just an endless line of discussions about mysteries in life, with trippy Richard Linklater animation. Some just personal theories of certain characters, others deep meaningful thoughts. One in particular which I’ll always remember is one man asks about why most people have great asspirations but become nothing and do nothing with their lives and his answer is this. “Which is the most common human characteristic, fear or laziness?” If that doesn’t get you thinking about your life nothing will. Another topic of discussion is “Your life is yours to create.” It’s no one elses. People can tell you, you have to go out, find a decent job, settle down and abandon your dreams. But is that what you really want to do? It’s your choice and your life to make that decision and you must make it or you’ll become just another floating speck in the plethora or life. I’m giving you the light version of this film. It gets much heavier than that. And if you can’t go away from that movie with a reformed opinion about something, then you can’t be helped. This proves my theory that films have the power to change lives and bring to light new opinions and ideas. So if you want to go off and say Titanic or Avatar are thought provoking films then you go ahead and do it, but in the meantime leave the people with functioning minds room to enjoy what you can so blatantly ignore, which is deep thought.

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Top 5 most thought provoking films of all time