10 Films That Completely Defy Expectations

by Bill Gibron

9 July 2013


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#5 - Hellraiser

When Clive Barker got Stephen King to call him the “future of horror”, few would imagine the next step for the celebrated author will be a turn behind the lens. But he got his chance to shine with this thinly veiled allegory about adultery and how far one partner would go to cuckold the other. In this case, a disgruntled wife kills men she picks up in bars to feed them to the rotting corpse of her former lover, the brother of her clueless husband, all under the roof of his family home. Sure, there’s blood and gore, but the betrayal is much more lethal.

#4 - The Gong Show Movie

Chuck Barris decided to make the first meta movie ever when he took old footage from his hit TV show (including an infamous sequence where panelist J. P. Morgan flashed her breasts) and edited into his own obtuse version of 8 & 1/2. The movie is basically a two hour long mea culpa, a behind the scenes sneak peek at the craziness that happened while The Gong Show was in production, as well as the weird backlash that resulted from its popularity. Throughout, Barris appears embarrassed to be revisiting his media humiliation, while giving his fans more of what they always wanted.

#3 - The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky had only made two previous films—Pi and Requiem for a Dream—before he announced this overly ambitious project. Wanting to take on mortality and the meaning of life, he roped in rising superstars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and made his proposal. Warners balked, and so the filmmaker had to rewrite the material, and accept Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as his leads (some compromise). If you pull it apart and put it back together with careful consideration, you get it. Then Aronofsky’s genius steps in and shows you things you didn’t see before, even after numerous viewings. Timeless.

#2 - Drive

Film noir as filtered through the revisionist lens of a knowing foreign filmmaker. Drive defies expectations because it never fully gives in to the genre contrivances the material demands. Heck, Albert Brooks, one of the most beloved and baffling stand-ups in the history of comedy plays the main villain here, and he’s sensational. Nicolas Winding Refn, a Danish director whose work is categorized by its existential aggressiveness, takes the story of a career criminal (Ryan Gosling) who befriends a lonely woman and her child and makes the narrative work as both a thriller and a character study/romance. And there’s blood. Lots of blood.

#1 - Attack the Block

The alien invasion sci-fi trope is so old and moldy that dinosaurs decided it was laughable back in the pre-human era. But when given a grin inducing spin by British comedian turned filmmaker Joe Cornish, it becomes a social commentary about the state of immigrant Britain. Unlike Edgar Wright’s brilliant deconstruction of the zombie genre, Shaun of the Dead, which utilized another tired terror concept to redefine the buddy film, Attack the Block argues that the extraterrestrials are the least of our character’s concern. Instead, poverty, drugs, and desperation lead to a survival instinct that will come in handy once ET lands with evil on its mind.

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