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Films watched through crosshatched fingers


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While some films make you feel uplifted and happy you watched them (Shawshank Redemption, It's A Wonderful Life, Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding) there are some that make you shrink in your seat and say things like, "No, don't do that," to the screen.

Here are some of the latter, with inevitable spoilers:

Se7en (USA)

I've heard it said that SILENCE OF THE LAMBS scares women, and SEVEN scares men. I won't comment on that statement, but there's something about the final scenes in SEVEN that certainly made me feel very uncomfortable. When Morgan Freeman goes off to check out the box, and Kevin Spacey is patiently explaining to Brad Pitt what that box contains, you, the viewer, understand a few moments before either Pitt or Freeman does, and then the scene plays out to its inevitable conclusion.

It's not so much that another murder has been committed. The movie is littered with them, and this last is, if anything, more conventional than any of the preceding. I think the real fear comes from two aspects, carefully built up over the course of the film. The first is the perception that Spacey's character stops being impersonal with his choice of victims and goes after Mills' wife, making it personal. The second is that Mills, despite that he's a tough cop, can do nothing to protect that which is most important to him. If your opponent is committed enough, the film says, there is literally nothing you can do, and you stand to lose everything. That's the real message, that it can be taken away from you for the most coincidental, banal or insane of reasons.

Audition (Japan)

AUDITION's first hour plays like a romantic comedy. It involves a widower holding a fake audition (not without qualms of conscience) to look for a likely candidate for love. One of the resumes catches his eye, and when the beautiful Asami arrives she is as warm and meek as any (Japanese) man could want. Despite warnings from minor characters, the two being dating, and then aspects of her past (and present) are shown to us viewers.

AUDITION uses the well worn road of starting out with everything normal, and gently introducing us to the fact that everything is, in fact, very wrong indeed, but nothing prepares you for the final, cataclysmic twenty minutes. "Deeper, deeper, deeper," is not something I ever want to hear.

Shiri (Korea)

The plot is one of a North Korean splinter group wishing to unify Korea under one flag (theirs, preferably) and as such the film is a fine example of cat-and-mouse secret service agents hunting for terrorists and piecing together and subsequently looking to foil the evil plot. It's a solid action/drama film and one well worth watching.

Why it makes it here is possibly the most violent opening ten minutes I've ever seen committed to film. In the opening shot a group of soldiers are patrolling an area of very tall grass. Without warning, enemy soldiers spring from the grass and dispatch the hapless patrol. The dispatchers then jog to the edge, salute an officer and inform him that "Area 9 is clear." Once the couple of seconds it takes to sink in that what you've witnessed is merely training for an elite group of soldiers has passed, you're shown snapshots of that training for the next ten minutes. It's unrelenting. The most disturbing is where they have to kill men and women who are tied, helpless, to posts. As one of the attackers commits the deed, and then blows his own head off, you want all this to stop. But it doesn't.

From Beijing With Love (Hong Kong)

A Stephen Chow light-hearted Bond pastiche making it into this list? I'll ask for you: Am I on crack? Well, no. There's a single scene, about fifty minutes into the movie, where Chow's character is unwittingly dragged into a robbery in a mall. The robbers, for no reason at all that I can see, take the father of a young boy hostage. Then, for no reason that I can see, they kill him in front of the child. Given the light-hearted tone of the film, this was a harsh jolt, completely out of mood for anything you'd previously seen, and presented without warning. Suddenly, I wasn't laughing any more.

Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance (Korea)

Not here for the (brief) torture scene near the end. Let me clarify that first. No, the reason this disturbed me is the manner of the demise of the kidnap victim. Briefly, deaf-mute Ryu needs a large amount of money in order that his sister can receive a life-saving kidney transplant. After trying the black market (and failing horribly) he and his girlfriend come to the reasonable conclusion that the only way they can raise the money is by kidnapping his former bosses child.

The relationship between kidnappers and the little girl are handled beautifully. It's never explained to her, they're simply friends of Daddy's and she's happy enough. In fact, the child's last meaningful line of dialogue is "Stop it, I'm watching cartoons," as one of her captors wrestles with her for the remote; the two are at play and it's almost heart-warming to watch. A series of accidents makes the girl's last hours miserable, and they're the last hours she'll know. There's always something heartbreaking when the innocent are involved, and given this film is among the best acted, directed and scripted that are available today, it makes a lasting impression.

A Clockwork Orange (UK)

Just Alex. And his gang. Doing whatever takes their fancy. Just that.

There are more, of course, but I'd like to hear those scenes that have stuck with you first.

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some good examples there, especially Seven which i found one of the most unenjoyable and miserable films ever made. i really let it get to me, like a child in denial having a tantrum. i still can't accept that ending.

i can't think of any myself, sorry!

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Audition is the only film I can't watch. The infamous torture sequence is nothing shocking - I've seen far worse - but Aoyama's hallucination, when the audience is shown what's in her big sack... just, no. Wrong on so many levels.

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I agree about Se7en. I enjoyed the movie and thought the gross-out bits (particularly Gluttony guy and the guy tied to the bed who looked dead (Sloth?)) were kinda cool. But the ending with the box shocked me a bit. Gave me a weird feeling. Unpleasant, quite a downer, but in the context of the movie I liked it, while similtaneously hating the act that was carried out.

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Crossroads with Britney Spears. I couldn't believe I was there.

However, when she was in her underwear I was certainly NOT hiding...well I was hiding something.

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The climax of Requiem for a Dream deserves a mention as well. I needed a shower after watching that.

I must be in the minority as this done fuck all to me. Whilst I enjoyed the film and the climax but at no point did I feel disturbed or 'unclean'. Horses for courses(sp?) I suppose :P .

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I must be in the minority as this done fuck all to me. Whilst I enjoyed the film and the climax but at no point did I feel disturbed or 'unclean'. Horses for courses(sp?) I suppose :P .

I think for me it's a combination of the haunting score, the visuals (that fucked up arm of Jared Leto's character, Jeniffer Connelly being gangbanged - involving that huge dildo - so she can score, the mother resembling a zombie after the electroshocks) and the fact that I kinda liked those characters.

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The bit in The Thing when the guy's head cracks open, and the dude with the flamethrower just stares at it. You're screaming "FUCKING TORCH THE ALIEN, STUPID MOTHERFUCKER", he just stares, the tentacle comes out, and you think "Oh, I can't fucking watch this".

The kerb scene in American History X is hard to watch, as is the prison rape.

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