Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Friday, May 12, 2006

My Favorite Movie Twist Endings

Its another weekend and here I go again with one of my lists. This is a list I have wanted to do for a long time but just couldn't get together. I'm sure some people will be happy with it. I'm sure some people wont.

I love a movie with a good twist ending. Although it is something that filmmakers should exercise bothe carfully and sparingly. It seems like a lot of todays directors rely so much on the big twist in the end tyhat they neglect the fact thatthey need to have a greatly executed story FIRST in order to catapult the ending right into the viewer's face. Movies with twist endings are also very easily spoilable, meaning that the aesthetic value of the story usually wears off after the first viewing, essentially because the viewer would know what would happen in the end after he watches it again, eliminating the element of surprise. But there are movies with more than just that one time sucker-punch "gotcha" trick up their sleeve, they also have a more introspective, permeating reason for the twist in the story. Here are some of my favorite twist endings so far. Needless to say, they are very SPOILER rich. If there is any movie you haven't seen that's on this list, feel free to skip it.

Then again, If you haven't seen it by now, you deserve to get spoiled!

I like my fries hot and my burger warm and my lettuce cold, thank you
Matchstick Men- Roy and Frank are small time con artists who have enjoyed moderate success, but the big con always seems to elude them. Roy has a little problem, he has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and likes everything clean and in order. He seeks the help of a shrink to get him back in working order as that his condition keeps worsening. He later learns through the shrink's background research that he has a daughter named Angela from one of his old flings. This new addition to his life just breaks the entire sequence of events and what's more, the little girl wants in on the business.

Twist: Frank ran away with Roy's share of the partnreship. In on the cut was the shrink who told him about Angela, and Angela, who wasn't really his daughter at all.

I enjoyed this movie because I didnt know anything about the story when I saw it. When the ending came, I was surprised because the story was actually good in itself. Adding that twist just floored me.

who wouldn't cling on to Nicole Kidman?
The Others-The house that Grace Stewart lives in may be haunted. Her daughter constantly communicates with a child named Victor who they never see. The house windows are blanketed and sealed because apparently, open sunlight is harmful to the children. Grace awaits the arrival of her husband Charles who went to war and longs for her family to be whole again.

Twist: Grace and the children witness an encounter session consisting of what they perceive to be ghosts. It turns out that these are people that are looking to buy the house but are bothered by the presence of ghosts. The ghosts being Grace and her children.

A great atmospheric movie altogether in itself. The Others transcends as more than just a great ghost story but an attention worthy study in film. Nicole Kidman's one hot ghost!!!

my hand is too short, you gotta give it some effort, son
The Empire Strikes Back- Luke Skywalker has to begin his Jedi training. He is summoned to a swamp planet where Yoda, the only surviving Jedi Master resides. Darth Vader is fast on the heels of the rebel alliance, seeking vengeance for the destruction of the death star.

Twist: Darth Vader: "Luke, I am your Father."

Luke Skywalker: "Noooooooooooo!!!!!!"

Possibly the best of the entire Star Wars saga (I'm not even including the prequels). It is said that this is the part of the series that dealt with what was real. That life isn't fair and that you don't always win. In a three act play, the second act is always the best part.

what's that? I like that, gimme that.
The Usual Suspects-A group of usual suspects are hauled into a police station. They're there because whoever did what. ahe must be among them. Keaton is the more seasoned in the group. While awaiting bail, they are enticed by a mysteruious source to plot revenge. This mysterious man in control is a crime lord named Keyser Zose. A man who is said to be pure evil. This entire story is told to the customs chief by witness to the events and conspiracy hench Verbl Kint.

Twist: Proven innocent, Verbl Kint is released. With all the information provided by Verbl, Customs Chief Kujan, having gotten all the testimony he needs from Verbl, beams proud as he stares at the bulletin board. Suddenly he discovers that the board bore many of the names Verbl had been yapping about, he comess to a jaw dropping discovery...Verbl Kint is Keyser Soze.

Although The Usual Suspects is touted as one of the greatest movies of all time, I didn't care for it much at first. having only seen it recently, I have come to appreciate the impact of this movie on critics in general. It does catch you off guard.

you think Princeton isn't free from floods?  We took our class under the mango tree, too.
A Beautiful Mind-John Nash is a brilliant mathematician with a penchant for cryptography. He is hired by the secret service to solve some of the codes that will let them win the war. He runs into trouble, only its of a different kind and has nothing to do with the war.

Twist: Nash actually has schizophrenia, he sees people who are not there. We are led to believe that he was hired by the government so we can experience what nash is experiencing. He was never hired by the government. He thought he was because he was constantly being visited by a government rep named Parcher. His broken codes were actually pointless congruences to nothing. He then has to figure out what is real at what his not. His wife Alicia, helps him in this life long struggle.

This is a great example of how a twist, although not exactly placed at the end of the film could be material in helping the viewer experience the character's dillemma firsthand. Great storytelling at its finest.

what do you think, Tyler?  Should I get a nosejob?
Fight Club-The story begins with a man and his insomnia problem. He starts to look for solutions like attending AA meetings and other far out ways to solve his problem. He soon runs into Marla. A woman who keeps attending the same meetings. The man also runs into Tyler, a soap salesman. Tyler follows his own rules and has a penchant for destruction. Together they form a club, and everybody wants in.

Twist: After Fight Club goes inter-state and turns into a series of terrorist cells accross the country called Project Mayhem, The man finds out through a member that he IS Tyler Durden,this means he has a multiple personality disorder. At this point the only way to get rid of Tyler is to get rid of himself.

Movies have the power to change your view of the world, but not necessarily for the positive. Fight Club tells you that the world is being conquered by the corporate machine with white collar slaves. I blame this movie for most of my verbal warnings in the office.

the Tango is a little too dangerous on the rooftop
Oldboy- Oh Dae Su gets stuck in a police station after being a disorderly drunk. Next thing he knows he is imprisoned in a cheap hotel like room for along, long time. 15 Years, actually. After he is mysteriously let loose, he sets out to find the jerk who locked him up. He gets help from a female Sushi chef who took him in and some old friends and soon discovers what vengeance is all about.

Twist: He finds his captor Ji Tae in a penthouse, He is calm and collected and actually expecting Oh Daesu. Daesu asks why.Ji Tae answers, "you simply forgot". Daesu and JiTae were in the same school, where the alumni are called OldBoys. Daesu was an accidental witness to JiTae's incestuous relationship with is sister. Daesu spreads the rumor around campus then leaves for another school not knowing the repercussions. The discovery brought shame to JiTae's sister and prompted her to commit suicide.
JiTae led Dae Su to the female Sushi chef who he fell in love with and made love to the night before the Penthouse attack. The chef WAS Dae Su's own DAUGHTER. The child who after 15 years grew up not knowing his father. This puts Dae Su in a situation others would refer to as a fate worse than death. This entire setup was for Ji Tae's revenge against Dae Su all along.

The only foreign film in the list. This has to be one of the most effective twist endings in recent cinema. At a time when almost everything was already thought of and tried onscreen, in comes Park Chan Wook and his originally fresh perspective on the revenge drama genre and hits us with a hammer.

see the perm you gave me the other day?  Now my wife won't even go near me.
Unbreakable- David Dunn is a security guard for his home College in Philadelphia. He has never had a sick day in his life. He gets offered a job in new York and takes a train to go there. The train meets a horrible accident that kills all of the passengers except him, he gets off without a scratch. Seeking for meaning in all this he is befriended by a mysterious comic book collector/dealer named Elijah Price. Price shows him that there is a purpose behind all that's been happening to him.

Twist: Dunn realizes he has extraordinary physical strength and endurance and that his purpose is to rescue people who are weak and powerless. Later Elijah reveals to him that it was actually HE who staged the series of accidents to find his counterpart, his archnemesis, Dunn. Dunn is the superhero, Elijah is the super-villain.

My jaws were actually agape once Dunn shook Elijah's hand for the first time in the end of the movie. Its the kind of ending that makes you naiively think, "are there really super heroes around us, we just don't see them?". This movie affected me so much because I love comics, and I love the whole Superman myth. The movie is a more humanized, a more, for the lack of a better term,"realistic" version of Superman.

so that's where the smell came from..
Se7en- Det. David Mills just moved into a bad crime infested city with an uptight veteran for a partner. One of the cases he and his partner get assigned is of a serial killer who seems to be using the seven deadly sins as his pattern. He chooses his victims carefully and kills them in very morbid and gruesome ways. They have to get him before he finishes his masterpiece.

Twist: John Doe turns himself in. He has two more murders to commit before completing his seven. He leads the two Dets to the desert. A truck delivers a box. Doe tells Mills how envious he is of him because he has such a pretty wife. His partner Somerset opens the box with Mills' wife's head in it. Mills gets pissed and shoots Doe. Doe's previous kills were Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Pride and Lust. Doe was Envy, Mills was Wrath. The masterpiece is complete.

Se7en is one of those movie that will be remembered for being original and impossibly imitatable. The image of Kevin Spacey as John Doe is forever ingrained in the collective psyche of our culture, along with Hannibal Lecter, as the representative of the ultimately cool wacko.

you did WHAT to your bed?
The Sixth Sense- Cole Sear is a boy with a gift (or a curse) he is able to see spirits from the other side. Psychiatrist Malcolm Crowe tries to get into the boy's mind and attempts to unfold the messages Cole gets from these "spirits".

Twist: After effectively curing Cole of his fear of the spirits visiting him, he finds out the he himself IS one of the ghosts visiting Cole trying to redeem himself from a patient of his he failed to help (This confirms the opening scene where his patient shoots himself in the head after shooting him in the stomach).

Originally, someone told me the ending while the movie was playing , I still wonder, in retrospect, why I didn't punch her in the face after she told me that. I wasn't really into the movies back then. It wan't a big deal to me. Little did I know that it would forever be remembered as one of the best executed twists in Cinema history. The scene still brings me chills to this day.

We got the best. Now the mediocre movies I didn't bother making a list but I sure was in the mood to add something more. I've got some of the worst in my opinion right here.

The Worst Twist Endings

bad breath don't make me a bad actor twerp!!
Hide and Seek- Dr. David Callaway tries to cope with the suicide of his wife. His daughter has been experiencing delusions involving an imaginary friend named Charlie. Charlie tries to fix his daughter's problem by convinving her that Charie doesn't exist. Then evidence shows up.

Twist: Dr. Calloway IS Charlie. (WTF???? GASP!!! Surprise, surprise)

 THIS, is how you do your chin-ups!
Secret Window- Mort Rainey tries to cope with his wife's recent affair with another man by going into the woods and writing a book. In the forest he is visited by a strange individual named John Shooter,who claims that Mort copied his last novel who starts to harrass him and do weird things to the people he associates with.

Twist: Another split personality themed movie hanging on the coattails of Fight Club. I swear, from the moment Jim Shooter came on screen, I knew for some reason he WAS Mort. So did everyone else.

this room needs a good vacuum
Artificial Intelligence: A I- Monica Swinton is coping (it seems everybody in bad twist movies is 'coping' with something) with her son being in a coma and unable to speak. She and her husband purchase an artificial boy to relieve their sorrows. The boy shows all signs of being a real breathing boy except the fact that it cannot love, or can it?

Twist: Although there is not much of a twist in the end, its more of a "How the heck are we gonna end this movie" ending.

After being stranded underwater and forgotten for 2000 years, he is dug up by aliens and given a second chance at being with his mommy. Nobody indeed expected an ending like that, its almost Monty Python like. After artificial humans comes alien chapters of the Make A Wish Foundation.

I dont need to be blind to know how hideous this jacket is...
The Village- Set sometime in the early 1900s, a small isolated community happilly lives in their little quiet enclosure in the forest, fully aware that beyond the treelines there is a bloodthirsty demon ready to devour them anytime once they cross their line of the fence. They require someone to go out in search of medicine when one of them is hurt. Ivy a blind girl, decides to go out.

Twist: We are led to believe that the movie is a period piece when outside the borders, a jeep turns out to stumble accross Ivy. The town's Patriarch Walker was a psychologist who decided to study the behavior of a society under controlled conditions. Ivy comes back with medicine. Of course he never saw the trooper or the Range Rover and thought she was given a carriage ride.

Feel free to show your love and drop a comment, I can handle it....


Blogger Mob said...

I was actually quite disappointed with Unbreakable due to the fact that I'd read an Entertainment Weekly article that mentioned that Jackson was the catalyst for everything in passing, not as if it WAS the ending of the film...

I can agree with all your decisions on the list, and personally favor Oldboy and Fincher's work.

1:55 PM

Blogger Sedricke said...

hey... i actually liked The Village's ending. hehe. i liked that movie.

11:39 PM

Blogger drei said...

hehe, i liked the village too! i'm a big fan of night. can't wait for lady in the water. =D

i should watch that oldboy asap!!

12:42 PM

Blogger Michelle said...

I agree with everything!!! This is an awesome entry, rocketboy!

10:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about lucky number sleven. prolly best ever

4:48 AM


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