No-one is questioning that there are times when you want to switch off to watch a film. Unwinding, checking out, call it what you will, we all need the occasional bit of mindless entertainment to chill out to at the end of a busy day. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But cinema can be and should be so much more than that. At its best it should provoke, challenge, confront and perhaps bewilder.
This is not intended to be Six of the Best Thought-Provoking films. Perhaps that one is for another day. We’re going to instead look at some of the questions that films have asked us. Questions that have thrown us, questions that have moved us, questions that have gone beyond being merely quotable (“Do you like scary movies?”) and have instead taken the film beyond the banal, trivial or predictable into something more memorable, lasting and significant. Feel free to add your own suggestions below, maybe we can come up with Six More Of The Best?
6. What’s in the box?
Few films have shown the courage of David Fincher’s searing crime drama. Ostensibly a serial killer thriller, but in reality something far more affecting and genre-hopping that such a limiting sobriquet allows, Seven delivers a rarely experienced kick to the guts as the full extent of its twisted tale unfolds in the shattering denouement. A lesser film-maker would have gone for a cheap twist, or copped out (just see the cowardly remake of The Vanishing), but not Fincher. After the savaging received by his debut effort, Alien³, it is hard to see how he came to be trusted with Seven. But he was and in the above question, we are faced with Brad Pitt’s realisation that John Doe’s horrific plan has reached its heart-breaking climax.
A rhetorical question, to which Pitt hopes against hope he will receive an answer other than the one he knows is coming, it shows Doe’s ruthlessness, his cold mania and (for want of a better word) his victory. In a heartbeat, all of Pitt’s flippant, sarcastic put-downs of Doe evaporate and are replaced with despair and (crucially) wrath. As Morgan Freeman eloquently, succinctly and aptly puts it, “John Doe has the upper hand”. Devastating.