Searching but not finding understanding anywhere

I just watched the Big Sleep. What an amazing, incomprehensible movie. What is the most incomprehensible movie you’ve ever seen? And what’s your favorite incomprehensible movie?

Also saw “American Hustle” a few days ago and loved it. What are the best scammers-scammming-scammers type movies ever? The Sting seems like the prototype. I’m not such a fan of the various Mametian takes on this theme, but maybe you are.

216 replies
  1. 1
    GregB says:

    The Sting and The Boiler Room. Griftastic.

  2. 2

    Mullholland Drive. There are good reasons why it was incomprehensible, though. 1. Was meant to be a mini-series so there are “dead-ends” in the movie that would have been fleshed out. 2. David Lynch is weird.

    I remember it was the first time I went on the series of tubes to figure out what in the hell I just watched.

  3. 3
    raven says:

    Which one?

  4. 4
    Belafon says:

    Maybe I ard.

  5. 5
    The Dangerman says:

    What is the most incomprehensible movie you’ve ever seen?

    It’s been a while and I only saw it the one time, but Brazil was fucking far out there. Not sure what Terry Gilliam was smoking, but I want some.

    And what’s your favorite incomprehensible movie?

    Since I don’t do incomprehensible very often, my favorite strange film is “Eating Raoul”; a comedy classic.

  6. 6
    GregL190 says:

    That’s easy. “Eraserhead.” Weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. No clue what I was watching.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    One of the best ever scams scamming scammers movies I’ve ever seen is a little Argentian film called “9 Queens.” The reveal is so shocking you don’t know what hit you.

  8. 8
    Felonius Monk says:

    Eraserhead.

  9. 9
    rk says:

    “The Osterman Weekend”. No idea what that was about.

  10. 10
    Suffern ACE says:

    If only Louis CK’s brother had gone out on the ice in Michigan today, we wouldn’t be wondering what happened to him. Sorry, what was the point of this thread again?

  11. 11
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    The Sting was the first film I thought of, but the mark was a mobster, not a scammer.

    Now Dirty Rotten Scoundrels qualifies. The mark turned out to be the real con artist.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Reason 2 says it all.

    An Army buddy talked me in to seeing Tango and Cash when it was on it’s theatrical run. What a waste of celluloid that was. It didn’t even play straight according to its own rules.

  13. 13
    Steven Hart says:

    Primer. I’ve watched it three times and I’m still not sure who time-looped whom.

  14. 14
    melville says:

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a pretty good light-hearted version of this theme.

  15. 15

    @Villago Delenda Est: T&C was awful. Was surprised how bad Jack Palance was in it as the baddy.

  16. 16
    raven says:

    Dogville.

  17. 17
    askew says:

    For conmen movies, I liked “Now You See Me”. I thought it was clever and well done. For conmen entertainment as a whole, I like the Leverage tv series best. Still sad that got cancelled.

    Most incomprehensible movie I’ve seen recently has to be Mud. That movie was boring as hell for the first 90 minutes. Just as I was about to fall asleep in the theater, there was this five minute insane action scene. Then, it went back to boring the pants off me except that somehow the people I thought were dead were alive and vice versa. I still don’t know how that happened.

  18. 18
    raven says:

    Dead Man.

  19. 19
    raven says:

    Conmen, Charlie Varrick and The Fortune Cookie.

    Also George C Scott in The Flim Flam Man.

  20. 20
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    OT but from the Beeb “British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin MEP has been declared bankrupt.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25590155

    His wallet now matches his character.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    The Saragossa Manuscript. It’s a story within a story within a story that all folds in on itself … and then all of the stories meet up and the whole thing starts unwinding back to the beginning.

    I’m assuming you mean movies that are confusing/incomprehensible by design, and not, say, the works of Ed Wood.

    Mulholland Drive actually made sense to me, if you (SPOILER ALERT!) assume that Diane murdered her girlfriend and has retreated into a psychotic state to try and forget her crime (though she could also be in Hell/Purgatory for her crime).

  22. 22
    The Dangerman says:

    …best scammers-scammming-scammers type movies ever?

    The Score. DeNiro, Norton, and Brando, enough said.

  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Roger Ebert explains the incomprehensibility to you:

    When they were writing the original 1946 movie version of “The Big Sleep” (1946), they came up with this little problem in Raymond Chandler’s novel: It seemed to have an extra dead body left over at the end. The screenwriting team (which included no less than William Faulkner) called up Chandler and asked him who’d killed the leftover. Chandler told them. But it couldn’t be that guy, the writers protested, because that guy was already dead when…

    Knock it off, fellas, said Chandler. I sold you the book — now it’s your problem. What finally happened is that the director, Howard Hawks, decided to go ahead and make the movie and forget about the surplus corpse. And the next time you see “The Big Sleep” on the late show, don’t blame the commercial interruptions if you somehow seem to have difficulty following the plot. The movie’s a classic because of Bogie and Lauren Bacall, not because it makes sense.

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    Oh, let’s have fun and throw out Trading Places, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Ruthless People into scammer movies. 80s comedies got to be represented. Mamet films are too serious for this genre.

  25. 25
    utterdregs says:

    Favorite incomprehensible? Well, “Northfork” is up there.

  26. 26
    raven says:

    It depends on if you count The Hustler and The Cincinnati Kid.

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, fun story about The Big Sleep:

    While working on the script, writers William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett couldn’t figure out from the novel who murdered a particular character. So they phoned Raymond Chandler, who angrily told them the answer was right there in the book. They shrugged and returned to their work. Chandler soon phoned to say that he looked at the book himself and couldn’t figure out who killed the character, so he left it up to them to decide. In the original cut, shown to the armed services, this question is resolved; in the film as released, it isn’t.

    So if you couldn’t figure out who killed X and why, the author of the book didn’t know, either.

  28. 28
    gogol's wife says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I only realized recently when watching it that it’s where Doghouse Riley got his nym.

  29. 29
    Alexandra says:

    Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, which I both love, are relatively straighforward compared to the deranged mobius loop of Inland Empire. Still, at least it has a happy ending. Of sorts.

  30. 30
    kc says:

    What is the most incomprehensible movie you’ve ever seen? And what’s your favorite incomprehensible movie?

    “The Big Sleep,” and “The Big Sleep.” I’ve seen it 20 times and never have figured it out.

    But it’s so much fun to watch.

  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    As for great scam movies, my all-time favourite is A Big Hand for the Little Lady. Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodward, plus lots of terrific character actors and a plot that is wicked clever and funny as all hell. Don’t know why it never really caught on, but I love it.

  32. 32
    raven says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Reminds me of Leave Her to Heaven. They left out WHY Cornel Wilde was in the joint. Made no sense at all but it didn’t keep it from being wildly popular. Lot’s of people must have read the book and knew it was because he didn’t tell on Tierney that she let his brother die.

  33. 33
    EconWatcher says:

    Syriana and Body of Lies were both pretty darn incomprehensible, although I think if I watch Body of Lies a few more time I might figure it out. I don’t think I would ever get Syriana. Both well-intentioned movies, I think. But comprehensibility seems like a reasonable expectation.

  34. 34
    Marcelo says:

    “Nine Queens” is the best con movie I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to say any more. It’s from Argentina and you need to watch it.

  35. 35
    karl says:

    Old school scammin’: The Little Giant (1933, with Edward G. Robinson and screen goddess Mary Astor).
    Newer scammin’: Nine Queens (2000, from Argentina)

    Incomprehensible is bad, never watch.

  36. 36

    The John Cole movies are strange as well. I still don’t understand the naked mopping scene or the significance of the lost mustard. Waiting on the mythbuster dudes to reenact the car crash into the field.

  37. 37
    James Gary says:

    All the suggestions on this thread have been good—-but my all-time fave of the genre, by a mile and hitting it out of the ballpark, has got to be “The Usual Suspects.”

  38. 38
    raven says:

    The greatest scene in the original Big Sleep is when Bogie acts a little “funny” in the book store and then bangs an incredibly beautiful Dorothy Malone.

  39. 39
    Botsplainer says:

    Most incomprehensible was The Ninth Gate. Never did get the end.

    Least favorite incomprehensible movied for me were in that Repo Man/Eraserhead genre, but that was because I never saw either sober and was damn near incoherent by the end of each.

  40. 40
    Monty says:

    El Topo. Afterward, you won’t be the same. You’ll be changed.

  41. 41
    aimai says:

    @Marcelo: You are the first person I’ve ever “met” who has seen it. I agree. See above!

  42. 42

    @Steven Hart:

    Primer: probably meant to be incomprehensible (I’m sure the characters themselves lost track of who was looping who). Amazing film considering it was made for $7,000.00.

  43. 43
    raven says:

    Bogie actually acted funny earlier with Greenstreet but here is the scene with Dorothy. Hot as any xxx rated!

  44. 44
    JoyfulA says:

    @Suffern ACE: Yes, Trading Places. One of my all-time favorites.

  45. 45
    askew says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Oh, let’s have fun and throw out Trading Places, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Ruthless People into scammer movies. 80s comedies got to be represented. Mamet films are too serious for this genre.

    I love Trading Places and Ruthless People. Great ’80s flicks. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels sucks though.

    Not sure if Out Of Sight really counts or if it is more of a caper movie. But, it’s a great flick.

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:

    @karl:

    Incomprehensible is bad, never watch.

    It depends. If the film is set up so it’s supposed to be hallucinatory/dreamlike, but is otherwise made with care and skill, it doesn’t bother me that much if I don’t understand everything that happens.

    There are also movies that are somewhat incomprehensible to me, but I realize it’s because the movie isn’t aimed at me. Velvet Goldmine was like that — I was interested in the film and the characters, but there were some parts I just didn’t grok. But apparently a lot of GLBT folks “got it,” because those parts were aimed at them, not at me.

  47. 47
    patrick II says:

    I am going to nominate “The Sixth Sense” as a movie with a real mystery (to me at least) until the big reveal at the end. The big reveal made so much sense that afterwards you might forget how confusing some of it was during the movie.

  48. 48
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Steven Hart:

    I’m with you. I’ve seen it all charted out, and I still can’t get square with it.

  49. 49
    James Gary says:

    @aimai: Really? “Nine Queens” was on pretty much every critic’s “best of” list for the year it came out, and almost everyone I know saw it…maybe I’m just lucky to have a lot of film buffs in my social circle.

  50. 50
    EconWatcher says:

    @askew:

    Eddie Murphy was so much fun for a while, but somehow just lost his mojo. I wonder if, amid the stacks of money, it bothers him at all.

  51. 51
    Roger Moore says:

    @Steven Hart:

    Primer. I’ve watched it three times and I’m still not sure who time-looped whom.

    The XKCD narrative chart will straighten everything out for you.

    ETA: Though that narrative chart actually gets 12 Angry Men wrong. One of the jurors steps out to use the restroom, and there’s a scene at the end where two of the jurors are outside the courthouse talking to each other about the trial.

  52. 52
    Botsplainer says:

    Rounders is VERY good as scam movies go.

  53. 53
    dedc79 says:

    Didn’t love A Simple Plan but goddam it had one fantastic, and completely unexpected (at least for me) scamming scene toward the end.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    Another fascinating “incomprehensible” movie: Ganja and Hess. It was made on a microbudget but is really fascinating — it’s like reading a book in Middle English that you can’t put down. You can’t quite “explain” exactly what happens, but you understand the characters and how they feel, and that’s the important part.

    It’s a little gory because it’s a variation on vampire movies, but I guarantee you it’s unlike any other “vampire” movie you have ever seen or will ever see.

  55. 55
    cmorenc says:

    Although the pieces do eventually fall together, the current movie “American Hustle” involves a superb ensemble of entertainingly shady people, and you can never quite be sure who’s really conning who and how and who’s actually got the upper hand in this entangled tale of duplicious manipulation. Christian Bale is spot-on perfect as the lead, as is Amy Adams as the smoking-hot femme fatale/Bale’s mistress…but Jennifer Lawrence is an absolute hoot as Christian Bale’s uninhibited, ditzy, uncontrollable wife. Bradley Cooper is spot-on great as well as the arrogantly cheesy, ambitious FBI agent who busted Adams for a fraud scheme and is using that as leverage to get con people Bale and Adams to pull off an even bigger con to catch corrupt politicians and mobsters (loosely based on the Abscam scandal of the late 70s). The plot turns are more dizzily exhilerating than the best roller-coaster ride ever.

  56. 56
    Groucho48 says:

    Alphaville was probably one of the first incomprehensible movies I ever saw and still remains a strong contender.

    Lots of good caper movies out there. No one has mentioned Topkapi so I’ll throw that into the mix.

  57. 57
    Betty Cracker says:

    Another vote for Eraserhead. What. The. Fuck?

  58. 58
    raven says:

    Charade.

  59. 59
    Diana says:

    My understanding of the unexplained murder in the movie Big Sleep is that in the book it’s an I-avenged-my-gay-lover murder, and not only did this angle have to be left out of the movie, it couldn’t even be explained that it had to left out because it was, after all, evidence of what could not be spoken of. There are no loose ends, let alone unexplained murders, in the book.

  60. 60
    Botsplainer says:

    Can I say that the first 20 minutes of the African Queen were awesome, but that it went downhill from there? You have the candy-assed stupidity of missionaries teaching English hymns to African tribesmen, and Bogart looking disgusted, then it slipped into a vehicle in which the abrasively voice Hepburn quavered through lines.

    She’d have lost teeth over pouring out the booze, and the marriage and explosion scene were just fucking stupid – an ending in search of a conclusion to the tale.

  61. 61
    Geoduck says:

    There’s always 2001: A Space Odyssey, though the companion novel offers an explanation for the climax.

  62. 62
    Diana says:

    My understanding of the unexplained murder in the movie Big Sleep is that in the book it’s an I-avenged-my-gay-lover murder, and not only did this angle have to be left out of the movie, it couldn’t even be explained that it had to left out because it was, after all, evidence of what could not be spoken of. There are no loose ends, let alone unexplained murders, in the book.

    Not sure the commenting system works on an iPad lets try this again…apologies for the double postings if that’s what results.

  63. 63
    raven says:

    @Botsplainer: And then there was Rooster Cogburn and the Lady.

  64. 64
    raven says:

    @Diana:

    Another primary focus of the Hays Office censorship polices was to heavily restrict sexual themes.[8] In the novel, Geiger is selling pornography, then illegal and associated with organized crime, and is also a homosexual having a relationship with Lundgren. Likewise, Carmen is described as being nude in Geiger’s house, and later nude and in Marlowe’s bed. To ensure the film would be approved by the Hays Office, changes had to be made. Carmen had to be fully dressed, and the pornographic elements could only be alluded to with cryptic references to photographs of Carmen wearing a “Chinese dress” and sitting in a “Chinese chair”. The sexual orientation of Geiger and Lundgren goes unmentioned in the film because references to homosexuality were prohibited. The scene of Carmen in Marlowe’s bed was replaced with a scene in which she appears, fully dressed, sitting in Marlowe’s apartment, when he promptly kicks her out. The scene, shot in 1944, was entirely omitted in the 1945 cut but restored for the 1946 version.[8]

    also

    “A remake starring Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe was released in 1978. This was the second movie in three years featuring Mitchum as Marlowe. Many have noted that while it was more faithful to the novel, due to lack of restrictions on what could be portrayed on screen, it was far less successful than the original 1946 version with Bogart and Bacall.”

  65. 65
    askew says:

    @EconWatcher:

    Eddie Murphy was so much fun for a while, but somehow just lost his mojo. I wonder if, amid the stacks of money, it bothers him at all.

    I am sure it bothers him that he hasn’t done a good movie since the underrated Bowfinger. But, then he looks at his bank balance and gets over it.

  66. 66
    hugely says:

    Memento and nove reinas

    mulholland is incomprehensible until the end its basically a dream of a schizophrenic but fascinating movie. Though most favorite is adaptation because it appears to break fourth and fifth walls and its so damn cheeky

  67. 67
    hugely says:

    Memento and nove reinas

    mulholland is incomprehensible until the end its basically a dream of a schizophrenic but fascinating movie. Though most favorite is adaptation because it appears to break fourth and fifth walls and its so damn cheeky

  68. 68
  69. 69
    Citizen_X says:

    @cmorenc: Yeah, go see American Hustle NOW. It’s better than whatever you’re doing. Props also to Jeremy Renner, and Louis C.K.! But J. Lawrence nearly runs away with the whole damn thing.

    Favorite incomprehensible movie? Ashes of Time, by Wong Kar-Wei. Dude makes a damn Celtic knot out of time. It’s gorgeous, even if you don’t understand what’s going on.

  70. 70
    Botsplainer says:

    @raven:

    And then there was Rooster Cogburn and the Lady.

    That must’ve been an interesting pitch. “Lets put two has-beens together in a boring matter”.

  71. 71
    Shana says:

    Does “House of Games” count as a scammers scamming scammers movie? I only saw it once but really liked it at the time.

  72. 72
    raven says:

    @Citizen_X: OK, if we are doing foreign flicks: Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East (1989)
    Yi Pan-Yong (Actor), Sin Won-Sop (Actor), Yong-Kyun Bae

  73. 73
    El Caganer says:

    I don’t know who the poster is, but you’ve got really fucking bad taste,

  74. 74
    dmsilev says:

    @Botsplainer: Sure, but you do have to admire the German captain’s line:

    By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution.

    Very Ming the Merciless, that.

  75. 75
    raven says:

    @Botsplainer: You’d like it, Duke is a drunk.

  76. 76
    Botsplainer says:

    @askew:

    I am sure it bothers him that he hasn’t done a good movie since the underrated Bowfinger.

    Awesome movie.

  77. 77

    What is the most incomprehensible movie you’ve ever seen?

    Proably Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life. To me incomprehensible means a movie that is good because you stick through it, but you don’t understand it, but you still spend a lot of time talking about it trying to understand it, so it’s good, as opposed to bad movies that just don’t make sense. Incomprehensible is a movie that maybe makes sense I just haven’t figured out how yet.

    Agree with Marcelo on “Nine Queens” it’s fantastic. The U.S. remake “Criminal” sucked, IMHO.

  78. 78
    NCSteve says:

    The Big Sleep is, in fact, my favorite incomprehensible movie. It makes me very much aware that any movie being written or rewritten during production is incomprehensible to the actors filming it out of sequence, and a big part of the biz is leaving it up to the director to make it all make sense when he edits it.

    Once upon a time, I would have nominated “Shock Treatment” as the most incomprehensible movie I ever saw, but it turns out it was just really fucked up and so was I the first time I saw it.

  79. 79
    NCSteve says:

    The Big Sleep is, in fact, my favorite incomprehensible movie. It makes me very much aware that any movie being written or rewritten during production is incomprehensible to the actors filming it out of sequence, and a big part of the biz is leaving it up to the director to make it all make sense when he edits it.

    Once upon a time, I would have nominated “Shock Treatment” as the most incomprehensible movie I ever saw, but it turns out it was just really fucked up and so was I the first time I saw it.

  80. 80
    Tehanu says:

    @raven:
    Yeah, the remake of The Big Sleep was sorta meh — Mitchum was way too old by that time, plus Sarah Miles and Candy Clark in the Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers parts were both, badly, miscast. (Candy got the crazy bits OK, but the parts where she was supposed to be beautiful and sexy — echhhhh.) On the other hand, nobody could have been better than Oliver Reed as Eddie Mars and Edward Fox as Joe Brody, so when it (occasionally) shows up on the tube I always watch it just for them. And the earlier Mitchum-Marlowe, Farewell, My Lovely, is just great.

  81. 81
    Suffern ACE says:

    For the incomprehensible movie, I’ll go with Sukiyaki Western Django. Actually a lot of Takashi Miike films make no sense to me. Big Bang Love, Juvenile A. Ichi the Killer. The Audition. I’ve tried. I’ve made an honest attempt.

  82. 82
    Steeplejack says:

    @raven:

    I liked Dead Man a lot. I think it might be one of those “had to see it in the theater” movies, though. Had an immersive but fragile quality that would be broken by interruption, e.g., “Pause that while I go get a drink.” Ditto The Blair Witch Project. Really scary in the theater. Dullsville on TV.

  83. 83
    askew says:

    Proably Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life. To me incomprehensible means a movie that is good because you stick through it, but you don’t understand it, but you still spend a lot of time talking about it trying to understand it, so it’s good, as opposed to bad movies that just don’t make sense. Incomprehensible is a movie that maybe makes sense I just haven’t figured out how yet.

    With that definition, I’ll add The Fountain to the list.

  84. 84
    raven says:

    @Tehanu: Yeah but Sarah rocked it in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing!

  85. 85

    I liked American Hustle but I did feel like the film’s styling was totally distracting. Too much of Amy Adams’ cleavage, Jennifer Lawrence’s poofy hair, Christian Bale’s bad combover. I know that was part of the point, to send the message about appearances vs reality, but it was too much. I wanted Adams to put on a goddamn t-shirt for five fucking minutes. I mean, I’m old enough to remember the early ’80s very well, and no one walked around flashing that much tit on a daily basis. So that annoyed me.

    I think for caper movies it’s hard to beat The Sting, I really do.

  86. 86

    I liked American Hustle but I did feel like the film’s styling was totally distracting. Too much of Amy Adams’ cleavage, Jennifer Lawrence’s poofy hair, Christian Bale’s bad combover. I know that was part of the point, to send the message about appearances vs reality, but it was too much. I wanted Adams to put on a goddamn t-shirt for five fucking minutes. I mean, I’m old enough to remember the early ’80s very well, and no one walked around flashing that much tit on a daily basis. So that annoyed me.

    I think for caper movies it’s hard to beat The Sting, I really do.

  87. 87
    dedc79 says:

    And what’s your favorite incomprehensible movie?

    Fantasia. Just when I was beginning to understand what the pink elephants were up to, along comes Mickey Mouse turning one mop into thousands….

  88. 88

    Sorry for the duplicate post, don’t know what happened.

  89. 89
    raven says:

    @Steeplejack: I liked it too (speaking of Mitchum) but I was lost. Did you see The Year of the Horse?

  90. 90
    Steeplejack says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    I quit watching in the middle. That “smashing his shoulder while juggling the dog” scene was too gory for me. And it was way over the top. Nothing like that could happen in real life.

  91. 91

    @askew:

    Interesting. We saw that one too, but not in the theater. I found it very confusing and I think had I seen it in the theater I would have enjoyed it more.

    Ditto “Cloud Atlas,” another incomprehensible movie.

  92. 92

    @askew:

    Interesting. We saw that one too, but not in the theater. I found it very confusing and I think had I seen it in the theater I would have enjoyed it more.

    Ditto “Cloud Atlas,” another incomprehensible movie.

  93. 93
    raven says:

    @Southern Beale: How be el gato?

  94. 94

    OK everything I post now posts twice. I don’t know why this is happening. I’d better just go away until the WordPress gremlins go away.

  95. 95
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Forget it it, Jake. It’s Word Press.

  96. 96
    Felonius Monk says:

    @raven: I thought “Charlie Varrick” was a pretty comprehensible movie — small town bank robber takes on the mob and wins while suffering some losses along the way. My favorite Walter Matthau flick.

  97. 97
    The Red Pen -- PEN DAMMIT! says:

    OK, kids, Eraserhead is about the fight between good and evil. The weird baby thing is evil and the lady in the radiator is an angel/God. At the end, Henry defeats evil and becomes one with God.

    Amateur Hour is now officially over.

    The most incomprehensible movie I’ve ever seen is Incubus. Yes, it’s a pretty straightforward tale of good versus evil in which a hero is summoned to an island to be tested by supernatural forces, so why is it incomprehensible? Because it stars William Shatner and all the dialogue is in Esperanto.

    Luckily for Shatner’s career, Jeffrey Hunter bowed out of Star Trek and he didn’t have to make any more movies in Esperanto.

  98. 98

    @raven:

    Which one, the one with diabetes or the one with lymphoma? Both are hanging on. The diabetic cat started doing this bizarre thing, walking FLAT-FOOTED on the hind paws, never saw that before! Vet said it’s a symptom of diabetes, can also mean a potassium issue. We got his insulin regulated and so far seems okay.

    Lymphoma kitty is hanging in there, but poor baby … the steroids he’s on has made him HUGE. It’s like he’s a little embarrassed.

  99. 99
    askew says:

    How about Serious Man for incomprehensible movie. I love the Coens but this one was too out there for me to understand.

  100. 100

    @The Red Pen — PEN DAMMIT!:

    Why is God in a radiator?

    See, now that just pisses me off. Get a better metaphor.

  101. 101
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Groucho48:

    Yeah, it was supposed to be SF, but it’s amazing how the future looked so much like 60’s Paris.

  102. 102
    dedc79 says:

    @Southern Beale: Interestingly, while the movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas was incomprehensible, the book on which it was based was not. The problem, I think, was that the movie kept jumping from one story to another and used the same actors for different characters.

  103. 103
    raven says:

    @Felonius Monk: When he flips the bi-plane and drills Joe Don Baker while upside down it all came together!

  104. 104
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Why is God in a radiator?

    “Why does God need a starship?”

    Star Trek V. What a fuckin’ mess that was, from start to finish. NEVER, EVER let Shatner in a director’s chair again, for the love of all things cinematic.

  105. 105
    raven says:

    @Southern Beale: Aw, I was thinking about the wayward pooper but I’m sorry for all the maladies.

  106. 106

    @dedc79:

    Thanks for telling me that. I started the book but couldn’t get past the first chapter but everyone said OH that’s the tough part once you get past the first chapter of Cloud Atlas the rest of the novel is incredible. So I’ve put it aside to try reading again … when I can really focus on it. I bet I’d love it.

    My reading is so sporadic these days, I hate it too. I read one paragraph and fall asleep.

  107. 107
    Wally Ballou says:

    @Felonius Monk: “They’re gonna strip you naked and go to work on you with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.”

  108. 108

    @raven:

    OH right I forgot about that one. She’s fine so far, hasn’t pooped on the floor again. And the FIV kitty is going strong, too.

    We have 7 1/2 cats. So asking “how’s the cat” is sorta a guessing game at our place. :-)

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steeplejack:

    The classic movie that’s like that for me is Citizen Kane. For some reason, it bores the hell out of me on TV, but it will hold me rapt in a movie house. Not sure why.

  110. 110
    TriassicSands says:

    @Marcelo:

    “Nine Queens” was excellent — far better than the remake starring John C. Reilly called “Criminal.”

    “Nine Queens” starred Ricardo Darin, who also stars in an even better film — “The Secret in Their Eyes” — another Argentinian film. Look for it as “El Secreto de Sus Ojos.” What an ending!

    A “con” movie I thought was really good is Mamet’s “House of Games.” If you can’t handle Mamet’s stilted dialog and cadence, the film may not work for you.

  111. 111
    Felonius Monk says:

    @raven:

    When he flips the bi-plane and drills Joe Don Baker while upside down

    Yeah, it kinda made the whole thing worthwhile — and then he flies off into the sunset.

  112. 112

    @TriassicSands:

    Speaking of Mamet, I remember liking his “Spanish Prisoner,” which could also be considered incomprehensible. His stilted dialogue does annoy the hell out of me, also his penchant for casting his wife in every movie and his recent plunge into Tea Party politics.

  113. 113
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Steeplejack: Tee-hee!

  114. 114

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned “A Fish Called Wanda” in the caper/con scheme movie department. That’s a classic.

  115. 115
    Suffern ACE says:

    @askew: Yeah, but Serious Man was probably the most humane movie that they’ve ever made. If its incomprehensible to you, its because the universe runs that way and just because you can’t figure out why things happen doesn’t mean that there isn’t any meaning to be found.

  116. 116
    lethargytartare says:

    incomprehensible? maybe, at least I still have no idea what, exactly, I love about “The Music of Chance”

    always enjoyed “House of Games” mamet be damned

    also agree Memento deserves inclusion…

  117. 117
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Southern Beale: Another vote for the book version. When I watched the movie (after having read the book), I was thinking “no one who hasn’t read the book will understand what’s happening,” and it’s true: My hubby was all WTF? since he hadn’t read it.

  118. 118
    Felonius Monk says:

    “American Strays” and “Lulu on the Bridge” are 2 of my favorite incomprehensibles.

  119. 119
    The Red Pen -- PEN DAMMIT! says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Why is God in a radiator?

    Don’t over-think it.

  120. 120

    I saw a movie years and years ago called “Green Papayas,” which was pretty incomprehensible to me. Foreign film out of Vietnam, I believe. Kind of movie where the camera would focus on a fly walking across a leaf for 5 minutes.

    Incomprehensible in every way, but not a good way.

  121. 121
    piratedan says:

    well there’s two threads intertwined, as for a movie where there’s plenty of misdirection, Heist was always one that worked for me, and for convoluted plot twists that ate themselves Basic seems to fit the bill. As for pure WTF, it’s hard to not mention a few MST3K classics: Master Ninja 1, Manos, Hands of Fate and Cave Dwellers.

  122. 122

    @The Red Pen — PEN DAMMIT!:

    If I had a dollar for every time someone told me not to over-think something …

    :-)

  123. 123
    Steeplejack says:

    @raven:

    I thought Year of the Horse was pretty good, although I have to say that for some reason I have a low tolerance for those “behind the scenes” music movies.

    One thing I was going to mention earlier was that I thought Neil Young’s “clanging a guitar in an echo chamber” soundtrack for Dead Man was excellent. Also the black-and-white photography, bordering on an infrared look.

    Trailer for the curious.

  124. 124

    @Betty Cracker:

    Cool, thanks for the tip. I’ll put the book to the top of my pile.

  125. 125

    What is the most incomprehensible movie you’ve ever seen?

    Hands down, Naked Lunch. I expected the crossing of the Cronenberg and Weller streams to produce something … other than this. Perhaps it required stronger hallucinogens than were easily available at that time.

    @ranchandsyrup: ROFL

  126. 126
    Elie says:

    Inside Lewellyn Davis is as emotionally incomprehensible movie as I have seen in recent years. Nothing about it is redeemable, despite the excellent acting of Oscar Isaacs and John Goodman. I have no idea why its so well reviewed — it is empty and nihilistic and in no way enjoys the topic it presents- how a musician struggles to make it in the early 60’s era of folk music…

  127. 127
  128. 128
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I always like seeing a great black-and-white movie on the big screen. The blacks are blacker, the whites are whiter, and everything is visually sharper, more intense and more detailed. Maybe it’s partly because of sitting in the dark. Doesn’t hurt to have Gregg Toland as your D.P. either.

  129. 129
    Amir Khalid says:

    The most incomprehensible movie I’ve ever seen is Last Year at Marienbad — a classic, I was told; but no one scene made any sense at all to me, and no two scenes seemed to belong in the same movie. My favourite incomprehensible movie is Mulholland Drive, which is just two hours of David Lynch’s self-indulgent weirdness to me but offers the delightful compensation of Naomi Watts’ nekkid bewbies.

  130. 130
    MikeJ says:

    @BruceFromOhio: Have you ever read the book? The movie is actually a lot more straightforward.

  131. 131
    MikeJ says:

    My vote for incomprehensible is L’Age d’Or

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXBiBeYAwcM

  132. 132
    Trooptrap Tripetrope says:

    I love Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai and have seen it a good dozen times, but I’ve never been able to entirely sort out who double-crossed whom, and when.

  133. 133
    Citizen_X says:

    @The Red Pen — PEN DAMMIT!: I never watch movies with comments on, but I recommend Incubus with Shatner’s comments. Best comments evar. He points out that some reviewers noted the “intensity” of the actors. He says they were “intense” because the director was always screaming at people in Esperanto, so the actors were basically terrified the whole time!

  134. 134
    Roger Moore says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Why is God in a radiator?

    God is everywhere.

  135. 135

    @Roger Moore:

    Oh I forgot. Dang it!

  136. 136
    Randy P says:

    I can think of four French movies that sent me to the intertubes afterward muttering “what the hell just happened?”

    “Copie Conforme (Certified Copy)”. Juliette Binoche and William Shimell are either strangers who just met or long-time married. And neither one makes sense.

    “Caché (Hidden)” Person spying on family is dead. So who is spying on them at the end?

    “Swimming Pool” – (Big Spoiler) Wait. That’s his daughter? Then who the hell..?

    “Holy Motors” – WTF? From beginning to end, one WTF moment after another. And the biggest mystery is why so many critics adored this movie. For what exactly?

    For the most part, none of the discussion I found on the internet helped enlighten me.

    By the way, for the Mamet haters, can I recommend “State and Main”? Funniest Hollywood-insider movie I ever saw. Early role for Philip Seymour Hoffman (for some strange reason, the sanest person in the movie is the screenwriter. I’m sure there’s no autobiography in this…) and William Macy is wonderfully funny and slimy as the director.

    Also have to agree with “Eraserhead”. I was made to watch that in college by a girl who adored it. Still don’t get it. She also dragged me to “Rocky Horror”.

  137. 137
    Keith G says:

    @raven: “Hellooo.”

    All under the watchful gaze of FDR.

  138. 138

    @Elie:

    Oh we just saw Inside Llewyn Davis and I loved it!!! True it was a little incomprehensible, the whole time thing … the thing about the cats … I need to see it again and maybe explore it some more. Good movie though.

    I think the point was to sorta show that aspect of doing your art for the sake of it not for the point of making money or being a celebrity … I dunno, half-baked idea, but the concept of not getting ahead in the traditional sense but doing what you have to do because you can’t do anything else, creatively …

  139. 139
    askew says:

    @Elie:

    Man, I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a year. I love the Coens and think Oscar Isaac has a phenomenal voice. Bummer.

  140. 140
    raven says:

    @Southern Beale: It’s actually “The Scent of Green Papaya”.

  141. 141
    geg6 says:

    2001: A Space Odyssey – worst movie ever made. Made no sense, was boring, and…well, it sucked in every possible way for a film to suck. I still have no idea what the point was. Which is pretty much my reaction to everything that asshole Kubrick ever filmed. Terrible film maker. I cheered when he died just because I wasn’t ever going to be subjected to another of his pretentious, incoherent movies.

  142. 142
    Downpuppy says:

    Some oldies – 2001 is still utterly incomprehensible. I saw it at the end of a 28 hour sci-fi marathon, which made the thing easier to just go with.

    The Music Man & Snatch were both good scammers movies, but only one had to subtitle Brad Pitt, so it wins.

    And of course, Sweet Captive, with the great Rhonda Jo Petty, would have been perfect if they’d found the alligator.

  143. 143
    raven says:

    @geg6: It was pretty good with a purple double dome when home on leave!

  144. 144
    Birthmarker says:

    Incomprehensible and hated:

    The Natural (Hubby and I still have a running joke about this sh@t pile)
    2001 Space Odyssey (Saw this in ORIGINAL theater run, don’t get it yet)

    Incomprehensible and enjoyed or eventually comprehended:
    The Departed
    Syriana
    Mulholland Drive
    Memento (kind of still working on this one…)

  145. 145
    The Red Pen -- PEN DAMMIT! says:

    @Citizen_X: Thanks!

    My DVDs are completely disorganized since my last move and I almost gave up looking for it. I found it between the League of Gentleman boxed set and Peculiarities of the National Hunt.

    It was near the Billy Jack boxed set, which I now feel obligated to watch in memory of Tom Laughlin.

  146. 146
    Origuy says:

    On the topic of incomprehensible, how about Antonini’s Zabriskie Point? All I remember about it are the scenes in Death Valley and coming out of the theater completely confused.

    Then of course there’s David Lynch’s Dune. I’d read the book, but I can see how someone who hadn’t would be lost.

  147. 147
    geg6 says:

    @Southern Beale:

    To me incomprehensible means a movie that is good because you stick through it, but you don’t understand it, but you still spend a lot of time talking about it trying to understand it, so it’s good, as opposed to bad movies that just don’t make sense. Incomprehensible is a movie that maybe makes sense I just haven’t figured out how yet.

    Oh, well, if that’s the definition, strike my earlier post at #141. In that case, make it the most recent Star Wars movies. I could sit through them and afterward sit for a long time wondering how poor George had lost his mind.

    Whereas with Kubrick films, at least the ones I’ve managed to actually sit through all the way, I can’t forget them fast enough.

  148. 148
    Keith G says:

    One of my favorite modern caper films is The Italian Job – great cast that was not wasted and great scenery. An older caper film, if you stretch the definition just a bit is Guys and Dolls – a magnificent bit of American film making.

    My most incomprehensible film (mainly because I was twelve when I saw it) was 2001 A Space Odyssey – fucking hell, it left my preteen self slack jawed.

  149. 149
    raven says:

    @geg6: Barry Lyndon? Paths of Glory? Full Metal Jacket? Dr Strangelove??????

    AND SPARTACUS????

    WTF-K

  150. 150
    Birthmarker says:

    Also-Burn After Reading–just burn before watching.

    Inglorious Bastards -I liked after watching it a second time with subtitles on.

  151. 151
    Roger Moore says:

    @geg6:

    Which is pretty much my reaction to everything that asshole Kubrick ever filmed.

    Then you need to go back and rewatch Dr. Strangelove. Spartacus is also perfectly comprehensible and an excellent movie.

  152. 152
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @aimai:

    I LOVED “9 Queens”!

  153. 153
    Violet says:

    @aimai: I’ve seen “Nine Queens” too! Realy amazing. Must see.

  154. 154
    Roger Moore says:

    I’m a little bit surprised that we’ve made it this far without anyone bringing up The Wall on the incomprehensible side.

  155. 155
    catclub says:

    Koyaanisqatsi

    Also, Man Facing Southeast

    Un Chien Andalou

    All of these have the feature of being intentionally incomprehensible, so maybe that disqualifies them.

  156. 156
    Amir Khalid says:

    @catclub:
    Never had the chance to see Un Chien Andalou. Who/what is the Andalusian dog of the title?

  157. 157
    catclub says:

    @Amir Khalid: It is a movie, by Luis Bunel and Salvador Dali, 1928. Looks like there are youtube clips and explainers out there.

    I have no idea who or what the dog is – if there even is one.

  158. 158
    Culture of Truth says:

    I like Kubrick’s movies, especially 2001

    I vote for Donnie Darko

  159. 159
    gogol's wife says:

    @raven:

    lol

  160. 160
    Roger Moore says:

    A Movie by Bruce Connor. It’s only a short, but it manages to pack feature-length incomprehensibility into 12 minutes.

  161. 161
    gogol's wife says:

    @Trooptrap Tripetrope:

    Yes, that’s a good one for this list.

  162. 162
    Randy P says:

    @catclub: I don’t think there is one.

    There’s a cute moment in Midnight in Paris when Owen Wilson’s character (a modern writer who somehow time travels to 1920s Paris) meets Buñuel and suggests to him the plot of another of his well-known incomprehensible movies. The Exterminating Angel, I believe.

    Incidentally, I loved Paris. One of Woody Allen’s best recent movies, and Owen Wilson was surprisingly perfect as the intellectual character that once upon a time would have been Allen.

  163. 163
    SC Myers says:

    Another vote for Primer and Shane Carruth’s new one that came out this year Upstream Color. Beautiful looking and sounding film but still trying to figure out what happened.

  164. 164
    Elie says:

    @askew:

    I usually love the Coens but this was empty for me. My husband agreed. That said, tastes do differ and it was strongly reviewed, although I found one review from a critic at the San Francisco Chronicle that I agreed with exactly. I had to ask why they made the movie — they didn’t like music, didn’t like the 60s or the characters enough to give you any kind of lifeline. The only humor came from bitter irony…

  165. 165
    Tommy_D_Cosmology says:

    “Ghost Dog”
    I never forgave Forest Whittacre for that one and I can’t see anything he does now without thinking about that movie. I recently decided that it was intended to be funny in its incomprehensibility. The mafia owners of the Chinese restaurant is now just funny.

  166. 166
    Tommy_D_Cosmology says:

    I have to say “Ghost Dog” .
    I never forgave Forest Whittaker for that one and I can’t see anything he does now without thinking about that movie. I recently decided that it was intended to be funny in its incomprehensibility. The mafia owners of the Chinese restaurant is now just funny.

  167. 167
    raven says:

    @Tommy_D_Cosmology: Great flick!

  168. 168
    Paul Gottlieb says:

    I’ve read that Hawks, Faulkner and Brackett (more famous as a Billy Wilder collaborator) struggled mightily to try and make sense of the ending of “The Big Sleep,” but finally gave up and just went withh the flow. It worked for me. Logic is overrated

  169. 169
    Amir Khalid says:

    @catclub:
    Found the movie on YouTube. Will watch it later to see just how incomprehensible it is.

  170. 170
    SFAW says:

    @raven:

    “Forget it, Jake, it’s geg6 on movies.”

  171. 171
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    There’s a lot of symbolism and such in it, but I gotta confess, I’m not sure I ever understood it.

    Seemed to be a lot more Dali than Bunuel.

  172. 172
    Roxy says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Ruthless People was funny

  173. 173
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    It’s literally a Surrealist movie — it was made as part of that art movement. So it’s not really supposed to “make sense” since it doesn’t have a narrative or story.

  174. 174
    SFAW says:

    Eraserhead. God in the radiator or not. (What is it, Steambath redux?)

  175. 175
    Roxy says:

    Oh hell, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was incomprehensible to me.

  176. 176
    IM says:

    Naked Lunch. both the movie and perhaps even more the book.

    Twin peaks the movie.

    Dune, if didn’t read the book.

  177. 177
    SFAW says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    since it doesn’t have a narrative or story.

    Seen a lotta movies like that, not sure they qualified as Surrealist.

  178. 178
    Mnemosyne says:

    @SFAW:

    Yes, but the Surrealists were doing it on purpose. Though IIRC people like Marcel Duchamps did also try to claim bad movies as hidden gems of Surrealist art.

  179. 179
    SFAW says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes, but the Surrealists were doing it on purpose.

    Well, that may be how THEY explained it, but …

  180. 180
    Roxy says:

    Hey Front Pagers and John, I noticed the copyright for Balloon Juice is still showing 2013.

  181. 181
    SFAW says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Though IIRC people like Marcel Duchamps did also try to claim bad movies as hidden gems of Surrealist art.

    Plan 9 from Outer Space? Glen or Glenda?

    Oh, you said Duchamps, not Ed Wood. My bad.

  182. 182
    greenergood says:

    @Origuy: Dammit, you beat me to it! :-) Zabriskie Point is definitely very high up on my list of incomprehensibles, along with Head (Monkees), Beau Soleil and 2001: Space Odyssey, which I saw when it first was shown and loved it even though I didn’t understand a thing. Persuaded my parents to see it, and they came back wondering if their daughter was mentally unbalanced. I have seen it at least 5 more times. Ancient scammer film: Budu Saved from Drowning. Happy New Year, all!

  183. 183

    @raven:

    Yeah that’s it!! The Scent of Green Papaya. So you saw it? Did you get it? What the fuck was that movie about?

  184. 184

    Y’all, a lot of these movies make more sense if you’re stoned. Just sayin’.

  185. 185
    David in NY says:

    @Southern Beale: I liked American Hustle for two reasons — its take on a historical incident (and the legal entrapment doctrine growing out of it) and the ending sting. Also Bale and Louis CK’s, and the target, “Polito’s” basic humanity. But I thought there was basically a long, mostly vacant, wind up to the ending.

    And one woman who went with us, a US immigrant from Europe who didn’t know any of the background, had exactly your take — “What was with all those boobs falling out of their dresses?” She really didn’t like it.

  186. 186
    John says:

    @raven: Re: Leave Her to Heaven. The movie was just on TCM and they definitely said why he was in jail at the end, though it did go by quickly.

  187. 187
    mclaren says:

    Tossup twixt Un Chien Andalou (Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali, 1929), and The Blood Of A Poet (Jean Cocteau, 1930).

  188. 188
    David in NY says:

    Does the fact that nobody mentioned it mean that people have found “The Maltese Falcon” the least bit comprehensible? Not me, and I really tried.

  189. 189
    Seanly says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    WIN

    Favorite incomprehensible movie has to be Brazil. Big Sleep and most stuff by David Lynch are right up there. The first time I saw The Wall would count except being stinking drunk at the time accounted for all the confusion (I was very familiar with the music which compounded my drunken confusion).

    Grift movies – gotta go with The Sting. As aside, it is forbidden for The Sting II to be shown or discussed within 200 yards of me. I started watching that once, realized how bad it would be & got the f’k out of there. Blues Brothers 2000 is also similarly forbidden.

    Scammers scamming scammers might be too small of sub-genre, but there are lots of good grift/scam/heist movies out there. I like grift movies where the protagonist is more of a Robin Hood, same goes for heist movies. Kelly’s Heroes, the original Ocean’s Eleven and some of the reboot of that franchise are my favorite heist movies.

  190. 190
    RainyDay says:

    Caper Movies not mentioned but good: Inside Man and The Italian Job

  191. 191
    Gravenstone says:

    @Origuy:

    Then of course there’s David Lynch’s Dune. I’d read the book, but I can see how someone who hadn’t would be lost.

    The word for Dune was incompetent, not incomprehensible.

  192. 192
    David in NY says:

    I just felt Isaac’s character was really hopeless, and not somebody I wanted to spend two hours on. I found parts of it vaguely enjoyable, but he was self-destructive in, well, incomprehensible, ways and the whole thing didn’t jell for me. Also — his character was drawn from Dave Van Ronk???? I don’t see that. “Nihilistic” seems a little strong, but I see where you’re coming from.

  193. 193
    Gravenstone says:

    @Roger Moore: A couple of my college friends went to see it in the theater. They told me the guy sitting in front of them appeared to be quite clearly tripping on acid. Not a good movie to go down that road with.

  194. 194
    Roxy says:

    @Seanly: I loved Kelly’s Heroes.

  195. 195
    Barry Rosenman says:

    @aimai: I second the recommendation. One of the best

  196. 196
    metricpenny says:

    @askew:

    Mud with Nicholas Cage? Salon named it one of the sleepers of 2013. You telling me Salon meant that literally?

    I was going to order it from Netflix (currently not available for streaming) but now I won’t waste my time.

  197. 197
    David in NY says:

    My last comment to: @askew: @Elie:

  198. 198
    David in NY says:

    @geg6: Yeah, 2001 was sort of incomprehensible, but I saw it in 1969 the night before the astronauts landed on the moon, with the girl I was in love with at the time, and it all made sense somehow. Context is everything.

  199. 199
    Thlayli says:

    Rollerball. The game-playing scenes were awesome, the stuff in-between … James Caan wandering around saying “I have to find out what’s going on”, John Houseman wibbling on about … something. Yeesh.

    Eventually I looked up the movie’s Wikipedia entry, which explained what the plot was. I was like, O RLY?

  200. 200
    apocalipstick says:

    Best scam movie ever was actually a two-part episode of The Rockford Files entitled “Never Send a Boy King to Do a Man’s Job.” There were several other con episodes of the series that put any theatrical con release to shame–and I include The Sting in there.

  201. 201
    mouse tolliver says:

    Well, obviously, The Grifters. Also Jackie Brown. And while they’re not after money, Dangerous Liaisons is totally a movie about con artists. Paper Moon also has some good short cons in it.

  202. 202
    Splitting Image says:

    For the “scammers scamming scammers” subgenre, I’ll nominate Laurel and Hardy’s Way Out West. A lot of my other favourites have already been mentioned.

    For incomprehensible movies, I’ll nominate Catch-22. The novel confused me so much when I first read it that I made a flowchart of every scene in the book placing them in their proper sequence. It turns out that there are two chronological errors in the book: Yossarian trips over Snowden’s suitcase while on rest leave, even though Snowden should have already died over Avignon; and Appleby tries to tell Major Major about Yossarian’s refusal to take Atabrine tablets even though Colonel Cathcart should not have appointed him squadron commander until later. I’m not sure that my life has been improved for knowing this.

    Another good incomprehensible movie is How I Won the War, with Michael Crawford and John Lennon. Michael Hordern and Roy Kinnear are also in it, if I remember correctly. I also have a soft spot for Casino Royale. It’s a great piece of 60s eye-candy; too bad Sellers quit halfway through making it.

  203. 203
    Karla Furr says:

    I thought “The Usual Suspects” was the best-told tale of a bigtime grift. “A Simple Plan” was very exciting,even though you KNEW it had to end badly. Love “Jackie Brown” for Jackie’s ability to outwit Ordell and the gang.

  204. 204
    Christine says:

    @Southern Beale: I love “The Scent of Green Papaya” and have seen it many times. Always interesting how differently people see things: I find it to be a pretty straightforward story, but what I really love is the sensuality and beauty of the images. I don’t mind an unconventional narrative or style as long as I can connect with the film on some level. Some movies are more like dreams – see David Lynch. But if you don’t enter into the movie, it will fall flat and even seem ridiculous. I also loved “Syndromes and a Century”, another strange and wonderful movie.

  205. 205
    different-church-lady says:

    What is the most incomprehensible movie you’ve ever seen?

    The Big Sleep

    And what’s your favorite incomprehensible movie?

    The Big Sleep

  206. 206
    HI says:

    Has anyone seen The Color of Pomegranates by Sergei Parajanov? It’s utterly beautiful, but was incomprehensible to me. Compared to this 2001 and Mullholland Drive are nothing. Even Tarkovsky movies are much more comprehensible.

  207. 207
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    @Betty Cracker: Oh bummer. I loved the book and was just pondering renting the movie. But that sounds like even I would have a tough time following it (since I read it a LONG time ago.)

  208. 208
    Matt McIrvin says:

    I actually saw 2001 long after reading Clarke’s novel, whose plot differs in some particulars but, in broad strokes, does offer a perfectly sensible (in a science-fiction way) interpretation of what is happening in the movie. So I never regarded the movie as particularly incomprehensible. But I don’t know if I would have come to that conclusion without the book.

  209. 209
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Also, Brazil actually has a plot that hangs together pretty well, but only after repeated viewing. Just not in the American TV edit with the happy ending, because they tried to pass off events that could only have been hallucinations as what really happened.

  210. 210
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @Matt McIrvin:
    I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in its first run in 1968. There was a lot of “Wha?” in it for me, but then I was only 8 years old. I read the novel in 1973 and it all made sense. You could say that was a sign of a bad adaptation, but then science fiction, being the literature of ideas, is hard to film well and still be proper science fiction.

  211. 211
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @…now I try to be amused:

    Funny thing about that: The film wasn’t an adptation of the book. The book was written concurrently with the making of the film, Kubrick and Clarke co-writing the script. The book wasn’t published until after the film was released. Kubrick, as the film’s director, opted to leave things enigmatic, while Clarke, as the book’s author, opted for clarity.

  212. 212
    MaryRC says:

    @Downpuppy: I’ve never understood the point of Professor Harold Hill’s scam in The Music Man. He convinces townspeople that he can teach their children to play musical instruments and form a band. He takes orders for uniforms and instruments, but he skips town before he teaches the kids. But the thing is, he doesn’t skip town until after the uniforms and instruments arrive. If he left town with the money the parents gave him for the instruments and never ordered them, that would make sense. But no … the Wells Fargo wagon arrives with little Winthrop’s tuba or whatever it was. So how does Harold make any money? It’s a scam movie and it’s incomprehensible.

  213. 213
    gogiggs says:

    My favorite incomprehensible movie is “The Man Who Wasn’t There”. (also just one of my favorite movies, period)

    It seems to more or less make sense on the surface, but then there are bits thrown in that don’t seem to fit, like Big Dave’s wife’s alien story and then the Coen Bros. show you the main character reading various magazines that contain elements of things in the movie and at the end you learn that his narration through the movie is part of an article he’s writing for a magazine and you have to reevaluate everything in light of the unreliable narrator issue. Eventually you have to conclude that, like Tony Shaloub’s lawyer character says, “the more you look, the less you know”.

    It’s not quite “Miller’s Crossing” but it’s an amazing movie.

  214. 214
    bs says:

    My friends and I spent a lot of time discussing exactly WTF was going on in Tetsuo: the Iron Man, but none of it ever really worked for me.
    bs

  215. 215
    The Golux says:

    “Day Of the Locust” is one danged weird movie.

  216. 216
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    “It’s A Wonderful Life” doesn’t make any dang sense at all.

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