These Movies Will Hurt Your Brain (In A Good Way)

WARNING: So many spoilers ahead! Plot twists unraveled. Endings revealed. Proceed at your own risk.

Ex Machina (2015)

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscaar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Directed By: Alex Garland
Written By: Alex Garland

Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) wins the dream trip of every programmer at his search engine company. He’s invited to the remote house of the Blue Book’s eccentric founder, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Nathan is weird, sure — but also seems relatively friendly. He shows him Blue Book’s newest revolutionary technology: Robots that look real. Caleb is supposed to test the robot, Ava, for consciousness. Nathan and Caleb have faith in the fact that they are more dominant than Ava. But Ex Machina goes off the rails when Ava begins to assert her dominance, and potentially outsmart them.


Gone Girl (2014)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Gillian Flynn

On the surface, Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) have the perfect marriage. But all’s not well in the kingdom of Denmark — or, in this case, we should say Carthage, Missouri. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing inexplicably, and leaves Nick as the prime suspect. As with the novel, the film shifts between perspectives of the two people in the marriage. Things are not as they seem in the disappearance or in the marriage.


Mother! (2017)

Starring: Javier Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky

This is a two-hour long mind bend. Aronofsky didn’t make Mother! to give audiences an enjoyable movie experience. Instead, Mother!, the story of a woman married to an older artist in an old house, is designed to make you uncomfortable. As you watch Jennifer Lawrence’s character unspool house’s that’s changing in wild ways, you might lose your grip, too.


Mr. Nobody (2004)

Starring: Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Rhys Ifans
Directed by: Jaco Van Dormael
Written by: Jaco Van Dormael

In this sci-fi-meets-coming of age movie, we see the three different paths that Jared Leto’s character’s life could have taken. A nine-year-old boy stands on a platform facing an impossible choice. He chooses to go with his mother; he chooses to go with his father; he chooses to run away. What happens next? Each path has its glories and its difficulties, and Nemo explores them all.

The film is narrated by Nemo Nobody, the man the little boy becomes, on his 118th birthday. In a sexless, ageless world, Nemo is the last living relic of the world as it was, and he’s able to track the permutations of his life. A journalist attempts to get to the truth of his story: which life did Nemo truly live? The answer will surprise you.

Mr. Nobody is an astounding, visually stunning movie that doesn’t shy away from toying with our existential quandaries, and the infinite paths of “what if.”


Shutter Island (2010)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane

Listen, put a few characters in a hospital for the criminally insane, and some mind-fuckery will occur. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshall (well) in this Martin Scorsese flick. He and his new partner Chuck (played by Mark Ruffalo) investigate an escapee named Rachel Solando, who once killed her three children.


Fight Club (1999)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Jim Uhls

The first rule of fight club is, of course, that you don’t talk about fight club. The second rule is that you disregard that one for the purposes of this roundup, with apologies to David Fincher and Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the novel upon which the film is based.

In this nihilistic tale, an unnamed insomniac office drone (Norton) meets a rebellious soap-maker named Tyler Durden (Pitt) on a plane. The two move into a dilapidated house on the edge of town and start an underground fight club that turns into a nation-wide organization called Project Mayhem, which protests capitalism and corporate organizations.