Wars and Windmills

04 September 2007

Twist & Shout

This post is teems with spoilers. Reader beware.

I mean no conceit but pulling a fast one on me via film is a bit tricky. I am rarely surprised. When I am, it is a welcomed and fun occasion. This is one reason I despise spoilers. You are never able to go back to the purity of not knowing what happens. That initial shock when a movie twists right from underneath you and lands you on your head is a once in a life time occurrence. Then the magic is gone and it will never be viewed again with untainted eyes. No matter how enjoyable subsequent views are, that knowledge has affected you ever after. I can only imagine, for example, what it was like to hear for the first time in the theater that Luke is Vadar’s son. Jaws agape. Eyes bugged. Minds boggled, only able to comprehend an expletive phrase deifying poop. Priceless. This is why also I appreciate movies that are able to pull the proverbial wool over my eyes and then slap my face with it at the end. I have thusly complied a list of my favorite movies with a twist. I am sure I will miss many.

Planet of the Apes.
The planet is Earth. I still don't get it. I never saw it coming....even a little.

I actually figured this one out, but not completely. A beautiful movie. The revelation that Bale's character has been a twin the whole time is genius. The biggest clue was when he told us how it was being done but in reference to the Chinese man's "Goldfish Trick": he lives his whole life that way. Stellar.

Sixth Sense.
Trixy. Well crafted and brilliant. The wife never really talks to him. He is in the same clothes the whole time. Subtle and trixy. Watching for the clues the second time through was almost as fun as watching it for the first time.

Usual Suspects.
Brilliant. The story woven from items seen in the room. Verbal Kint is Keyser Söze. That, coupled with the line: "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist." makes this one of the greats.

Fight Club.
The clues are there and obvious (obviously) the second time through, but sweet cheetah did this one toss me. Well played all involved, Chuck in particular.

Empire Strikes Back.
Sadly like most people, I grew up knowing this. If I were gifted three wishes I would waste one to go back and have been there in 1980 to witness and feel the shock of it all. (I was there, but at two I only remember being scared at the abominable snow creature.) It is the best movie twist ending, period.


  1. I was begging to leave through the whole last half of The Sixth Sense. Then, I learned of the truth and begged to go to the very next showing.

    But even the second time Mischa Barton's puking damn near did me in.

  2. fitting and hilarious. I couldn't in good conscious wear it, however.

  3. Oh crap. I shouldn't have clicked grifter's link...

  4. oh dern. I should have put the caveat of "spoilers ahoy" on my above link.

    all apologies if something got sullied forever.

  5. The biggest slap in the face is when I realized that Edward Norton's character does not have a name. And I read the book, too. And I'm a smarter reader than that but somehow Chuck totally snuck that past me. And Valerie.

  6. whoa...I never realized that. whoa.

    that Chuck. Valarie didn't see it either...trippy.

  7. Reading Darren's take on your wife's name, James, I think she should change the official spelling to be "Valorie" (Valor-ie) See, its clever because she is sneaking a virtue into her very name. And Lord knows she needs 'em. Whoa.

  8. Lindsey,
    The puking scene was the scariest point of the flick for me as well.

    I turned on all the lights and put a copy of conference on to finally trick myself into fitful, thunder clapping sleep.

    The end gave me no peace.

    Love the post Z, I could think of no other movies to add to your list. Well done.

  9. Allen and I were sitting on my porch in Idaho discussing Fight Club, we mentioned Tyler Durden, and then stopped, both of us casting around for the name of the narrator (Edward Norton's charecter). We were stymied for a while, I even grabbed my book to check, I was positive the name was in there. It's written so smoothly that it doesn't occur to you that you're missing that information. Amazing.
    Oh, and Joe, just...you know...
    watch out.

  10. Great list on a great topic. However, with all due respect, may I point out a glaring hole?
    The granddaddy of all cinematic twists occurs not in any of your selections, but in the English-subtitled French language masterpiece "Rabid Grannies" wherein we find, the havoc wreaked on the guests of the inn is not inflicted by alien visitors as we thought, but by the two charming, cane-assisted innkeepers themselves. That one floors me still.
    I'm certain this omission is merely an oversight. Otherwise, all's well.

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  12. DAZ,

    No question that The Usual Suspects is my favorite non-comedy movie of all time. Kevin Spacey did such a good job, and I love how they show the movie through Verbal's tainted version of the truth. I loved how they drop the bomb and proceed to roll the credits 30 seconds later!

  13. I love movies with a shocking twist at the end. Two of my favorites are the Game and 12 monkeys.

    Nope, you don't know me, but thought I would comment anyway.

  14. I love 12 Monkeys. Good call. I haven't seen the Game. Thanks for commenting.

  15. The sad thing about this post is, I actually told a customer that one time, he was relaying to me the first time he saw "Star Wars" in the theater and how amazing it was, and I told him If I built a time machine that would be on my list, to be able to see those movies for the first time, and after watching the special features, where they talk about the secrecy of the Luke/Vader scenario in Empire, I willing to admit I'd sell a child to see that when it came out.

  16. that was mischa barton! wow too bad she wasn't really dead.