Dreams Confuse Moviegoers: "Vanilla Sky" Tops Bewildering Poll

by Christopher Campbell
July 26, 2010 12:38 PM
2 Comments
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I'm guessing that "Inception" would feature high up in a later list of most confusing films of all time given the results of a poll conducted by European Netflix equivalent LoveFilm. As voted by subscribers of the DVD service, "Vanilla Sky" has apparently perplexed more film fans than "Mulholland Drive," "Donnie Darko," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," all of which were included in the top ten. LoveFilm editor Helen Crowley recognized a trend in the results: "It's clear that dreaming is the biggest cause of confusion for viewers. Switching from reality to dream sequences pulls the wool over our eyes and leaves us searching for the truth."

So "Inception" must not have qualified yet, as its dream-based plot is puzzling many moviegoers lately. Christopher Nolan was represented, though, with "Memento." Surprisingly, "Eternal Sunshine" was the only Charlie Kaufman-scripted film rated. Maybe not enough people have rented "Synecdoche, New York" across the pond. David Lynch also shockingly only had one title represent his consistently enigmatic work, while Stanley Kubrick managed a second film on the list, "A Clockwork Orange." I'm not sure what's so confusing about that one. Meanwhile, where's the Jodorowsky? And my girlfriend would probably kill me if I didn't mention one of her current obsessions, "Triangle." I doubt enough people have seen either that or "El Topo" to have them impacting polls.

Here are the full results of the poll:

1. "Vanilla Sky"
2. "Mulholland Drive"
3. "Donnie Darko"
4. "The Matrix Revolutions"
5. "Memento"
6. "12 Monkeys"
7. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
8. "2001: A Space Odyssey"
9. "Revolver"
10. "A Clockwork Orange"

I tend to wonder about movies that really confuse people if some of it has to do with bad direction. At least for mainstream movies that aren't intended to totally befuddle moviegoers. You might argue instead that it's the viewer's fault much of the time. The word "moron" unfortunately comes into play a lot in forums debating lists like this. I'll admit though that "Primer" always makes me feel stupid more than it makes me feel purposefully confused. Alas, that's another movie likely too little seen to make the list.

Here's a related poll/list I came across this morning: 10 most shocking plot twists. Unlike the Telegraph, I won't include the spoilers in the results, even if most are old enough to be common knowledge (which I think hurts "Psycho" in polls like this):

1. "The Sixth Sense"
2. "Psycho"
3. "The Usual Suspects"
4. "The Empire Strikes Back"
5. "Saw"
6. "Fight Club"
7. "The Wicker Man"
8. "The Others"
9. "Se7en"
10. "Planet of the Apes"


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2 Comments

  • Christopher Campbell | July 26, 2010 4:37 AMReply

    I think the Psycho twist isn't so much the one at the end as the shower scene. That might be why the poll didn't specifically say twist endings.

    As for Godard, I'll admit I've also had problems not getting some of his films. I think a lot of French cinema in general, though especially that of the 60s, involves a culture that few young Americans can relate to or understand.

  • Ryan Sanderson | July 26, 2010 3:08 AMReply

    I had to watch Psycho twice because the AFI top villains poll included a huge spoiler, so I didn't even realize the ending was a twist until it was handled as such. Then I had to rewatch it to get the film in full effect.

    Inception is the most recent film to throw me for a loop. I haven't been that fooled by a movie in... I don't know how long. I went from mildly liking it to loving it, all when I discovered that it had completely tricked me.

    For a less topical example, at first I did not take to Godard's work very well. I've had a friend of mine describe watching his movies as taking "straight whiskey" and I really couldn't agree more. There's a lot going on, and even though I had no clue what I was watching when I first saw Alphaville back in high school, I still enjoyed its pulp value, but you have to know your stuff to fully get it.

    Primer owns that list, even if not enough people have seen it.
    I would also add Synecdoche, New York (which is incredible if you're willing to submit to the madness).
    Also Transformers 2. I seriously had no idea what the hell was happening at least 50% of the time while watching that movie.

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