Surrealist cinema is characterized by the usage of exaggerated, often subconscious, and dream-like imagery that is although written seemingly irrational or illogical, under capable hands, can in fact be an inventive translation of logical thought that's difficult to comprehend, or accept given its reliance on disturbing the audience.
Now a popular genre in mainstream cinema thanks to the likes of David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, and Terry Gillam, here are 4 Modern films inspired by the such for you to see:
Honorable Mention: 'Synecdoche, New York' (2008)
This one requires the most patience. I was hesitant to mention this on my list but I think it's still a film worth watching, not exactly a waste of time.
Synecdoche, New York is about a playwright who, in his deteriorating health, directs an adaptation of his personal life and struggling relationships. Somewhat the theater equivalent of Inception's dream-within-a-dream premise, except much more indulgent in its own world expecting the audience to catch up to its eventual pretension and pseudo-intellect.
Nonetheless the film deserves a mention for its unique, albeit somewhat wasted, concept. If you're a fan of Charlie Kaufman and a patient moviegoer, this is a film for you.
Weirdest Moment: Everything to do with the daughter.
'Mr. Nobody' (2009)
The last mortal on earth reflects on his life and how every major decision he's made shaped his future. The film's lead character is literally, and figuratively, Nobody, who is supposed to be an abstraction of the possibility that is many worlds as he can predict the future and live life accordingly.
The many worlds interpretations, arguably its most interesting quality, is also the only thing holding it back from being a perfect film. There is no end to exploration in a world where possibilites are endless, making choices feel meaningless and the film, that although consists of a central story line (among others) you care about, overlong.
Its musical score combined with its cinematography very well set the heartfelt tone of the film, which you'll remember even after it's over. Mr. Nobody is flawed only due to the platform through which its experimentative and non-linear story was told, but regardless of which, is a memorable film you should definitely see.
Weirdest Moment: Angels of Oblivion. Whaaat.
'Holy Motors' (2012)
This film is all kinds of weird. Seriously, every genre of it. All of it, piled into one glorious, unrelenting piece of WTF that's ever so confusing, shocking, and surprisingly, funny.
Although it seems to tell the story of a man who portrays a number of different people under a day, the film is most probably a satire on method acting, the loss of identity, and the evolution of cinema, but what makes this film so effective is that, to the naked eye, it makes no sense. There is no obvious narrative, it's full of stories and stories within itself that you are expected to gather and make sense of once the film has ended.
It succeeds because it isn't over reliant on just shocking you with its visuals, but consists of an underlying narrative (which I can't spoil here by talking about) that qualifies it as a film well worth watching, and analyzing to make any sense of.
Weirdest Moment: There is not just 'one weird moment' in this film. It's the entire film. All of it. The entire film is weird.
This film tells the story of a man who discovers his doppelganger and has to deal with the consequences set forth by their interactions. Enemy boasts its weird and misleading thanks to the occasional flashes of arachnid-women and the such, and its double narrative that unfolds without compromising either of value.
The subject of this film is really up to whom you ask, it depends on whether or not they cared to read further into, or stayed content with, the film's seemingly straightforward character study, but what remains without a question is that both audiences will have been entertained.
Weirdest Moment: That ending.
'Upstream Color' (2013)
Directed, written by, and starring Shane Carruth, Upstream Color explores the story of people whose lives are changed following a parasite intrusion. Upstream Color explores themes of exploitation followed by the paranoia survivors are victimized to, and acts as an analogy to the process of storytelling and narrative control from the perspective of a creation.
Not nearly as complicated as Carruth's sci-fi Primer, but just as abstract, and although the latter half of the film may feel slightly dragged, this film is a must see for its message and ambition.
Some criticize the film for being pretentious and pseudo-intellectual but it really is just experimental and vague. On a more technical note, Carruth scored, and shot the film too. All very neatly cut, full of a 'hint, don't show' approach to scene progression which I thought was worth mentioning.
Weirdest Moment: That removal of the parasite. Ew.