You can’t predict what’s going on in the mind of a crazy person. Because, you know, they’re crazy. Logic and reason are not necessarily the pillars they’re using to construct their own reality. So why not just let them tell us? We don’t recommend this as an in-person exercise, but as a movie, it really works out. Here are the 5 best movies from the mind of a madman.
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5. Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (2015)
Adrian is a Romanian filmmaker who likes girls and cats. He does not like dogs or boys. His favorite thing? Anne Hathaway as Cat Woman.
He was so inspired by her performance that he knew he had to make a film with her. To convince her, he’s lured three actresses to shoot a film with him. That film is really just to convince Anne, his beloved, that she should star in the real movie.
I really don’t think she will want to.
This movie works on the sheer, weird charisma of writer/director/star Adrian Tofei. He is pathetic and charming and terrifying as he documents his direction as a kind of “behind the scenes” for Anne, so she can understand how truly perfect she is for his film and he is for her artistic future. The result is unsettling, unique and wildly entertaining.
4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Director Robert Weine’s inarguable classic remains a cinematic landmark because of its look and its political storytelling. It’s a genre breakthrough for those reasons, as well as one twist that would still be a go-to for the genre nearly a century later.
The film is a story spun by a young man on a park bench. He’s visiting his sweetheart in an insane asylum, and he tells us of their woes. It’s a captivating story, one that speak to writers Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz’s building worries over authoritarianism in Post WWI Germany, and in the hands of Weine, the imagery takes on a nightmarish aesthetic many would try to imitate.
Alas, as the film ends, we find that our narrator is, indeed, just another patient in this sanitarium and the story has simply come from his own diseased mind.
3. The Last Horror Movie (2003)
A clever concept handled very craftily, The Last Horror Movie is found footage in that we, the audience, have found it recorded over the VHS tape we are apparently watching. What serial killer Max (a top notch Kevin Howarth) has done, you see, is made a documentary of his ghastly habits and shared them with an audience that’s shown, by virtue of the movie it intended to rent just now, its predeliction for someting grisly.
There’s a lot of “yes, I’m a bad person, but aren’t you, too” posturing going on, and while it is an idea to chew on, it nearly outlives its welcome by the time Max applies his theory to concrete action. It’s an idea explored masterfully by Michael Haneke in 1997 (and again, ten years later) with Funny Games, and by comparison, The Last Horror Movie feels a bit superficial. (Not a huge criticism – few could withstand a comparison to Michael Haneke.)
But director Julian Richards deserves immense credit for subverting expectations throughout the film. Just when we assume we’re seeing a predator anticipating the pounce – just when we’re perhaps feeling eager to see someone victimized – the film makes a hard right turn. In doing this, Richards not only manages to keep the entire film feeling fresh and unpredictable, but he enlightens us to the ugliness of our own horror movie fascinations.
2. Man Bites Dog (1992)
In a bit of meta-filmmaking, Man Bites Dog is a pseudo-documentary made on a shoestring budget by struggling, young filmmakers. It is about a documentary being made on a shoestring budget by struggling, young filmmakers. The subject of the fictional documentary is the charismatic Ben – serial killer, narcissist, poet, racist, architecture enthusiast, misogynist, bird lover.
There’s more than what appears on the surface of this cynical, black comedy. The film crew starts out as dispassionate observers of Ben’s crimes. They’re just documenting, just telling the truth. No doubt this is a morally questionable practice to begin with. But they are not villains – they are serving their higher purpose: film.
The film examines social responsibility as much as it does journalistic objectivity, and what Man Bites Dog has to say about both is biting. It’s never preachy, though.
Theirs is a bitter view of their chosen industry, and – much like The Last Horror Movie – a bit of a condemnation of the viewer as well. The fact that much of the decidedly grisly content is played for laughter makes it that much more unsettling.
1. American Psycho (2000)
Director Mary Harron trimmed Bret Easton Ellis’s novel, giving it unerring focus. More importantly, the film soars due to Christian Bale’s utterly astonishing performance as narcissist, psychopath, and Huey Lewis fan Patrick Bateman.
Bateman narrates for us his strategies for keeping up the ruse of humanity for all who’s looking. He feels the pressure and believes an end to the charade is imminent.
As solid as this cast is, and top to bottom it is perfect, every performance is eclipsed by the lunatic genius of Bale’s work. Volatile, soulless, misogynistic and insane, yet somehow he also draws some empathy. It is wild, brilliant work that marked a talent preparing for big things.