turns 45 this year (and screens at theAngelika
in 35mm starting next week), and as I started to reminisce about the film I noticed that I felt kinda blue. I started thinking about that beat-to-shit bus that young Dustin Hoffman and dreamy-eyed Katharine Ross hopped on in the film's closing scene, and about the ass-stink gas stations that it would probably stop at as it barreled forward, and how that basically represented the couple's future and all they'd lost. Then I pulled out a step ladder and slowly climbed to my shame shelf, where I keep a bunker's worth of out-of-season Girl Scout cookies and ate every last fucking Thin Mint in the stash.
Suck it, Hoffman. I can handle it -- I still got mother fucking Tagalongs up in this piece.
So, what are The Graduate's contemporaries? What other movies make us want to cling to our pets, weep in their fur and vow to finally check the internet for therapists that accept our health plans? I did a little number crunching and came up with 15 of those bitches from the last 15 years.
Warning: This article is one big spoiler alert.
15. Happiness: Label it a dark comedy all you like, there's nothing about this film or its ending that left me in a "safe place" emotionally. It's also the first time I realized that Phillip Seymour Hoffman was born to be creepy.
I'm literary. I listen to books on tape. I totally knew howIn Cold Blood
ended before I saw this movie, and still I was surprised by how much it affected me. From beginning to end, it was painful, but I couldn't resolve my feelings after the credits rolled. I had to take six showers and watch three Disney movies before I could go to sleep that night.
13. Se7en: Man, remember back when Brad and Gwyneth were Hollywood's "it" couple, before she started naming her kids after fruit? Yeah, that was a non sequitur to distract you from the night terrors you had after the credits rolled on this movie.
12. Shutter Island:
Proof that there's nothing more unsettling than a cluster of crazies holed up on an island, this movie approaches the psychological thriller from a variety of angles. As the plot lines splinter, we want to stay with and trust Leo (just look at those eyes!), but in the end we're pretty sure he's a shitbag who's getting a lobotomy.
11. The Descent: The only way this movie could have been more depressing (and yes, I know this isn't the US ending) is if I had seen it the way I'd intended to: In a cave during an Alamo Drafthouse rolling roadshow premiere. They hosted a screening of The Descent in one of Austin's caves, which is terrifying. I couldn't have handled it. I would have clawed my way over every last person there to escape. Whichever ending you're familiar with, each is fairly disturbing. The American angle leaves it open for a sequel, but this one leaves the story's hero surrounded by bones.
10. Open Water Did that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Based on a true-ish story of a couple who really needed a vacation, but ended up abandoned at sea,Open Water ends in "drown or get eaten by sharks like your husband" ruin. Just watching her resign to the lessor of two terrible deaths is pretty crushing.
9. The Road: Holy fuckballs. Yes child, follow that kind and totally not imaginary family into this isolated, post-apocalyptic world. They even have ...a dog?
Or ...shit just got extra terrible and the only way you can cope is by dreaming up a fake clan to cling to until cannibals eat you. (Oh, sorry about the crazy music during the credits. You Tube is slim pickings for The Road.)
8. Dancer in the Dark: Why, Björk, why? I swear I'll help you get your son that operation; I'll even find you lawyer. Just stop breaking my heart with your positive perspective through song. I can't handle it.
7. No Country for Old Men: Anton's made it clear that he finishes what he starts. That line about building a fire with his dad... uhg, heart breaking.
6. Million Dollar Baby: This movie made my dad cry. This movie made Clint Eastwood cry. This movie made my dog cry, and he's a dog.
5. The Virgin Suicides: Proof that some humans are bigger than their cages but lack the tools to escape them, this film made us fall in love with these souls, these sisters. Then it ripped them away from us. Along with several others on this list, I file this movie under Great Films I Can Never Watch Again.
4. American History X: Here's the deal with this one: You think you're going to make it through after surviving that terrible curb-stomping scene, but you're so wrong. You become invested in Li'l Leo and his path to understanding. You want him to escape this shitty white power skin head cult and go to a nice trade school, maybe get a certificate in air conditioning repair, and meet a girl who bakes. What you get is this crap death in a community bathroom and a tragic voice-over. Yeah, thanks life.
3. Revolutionary Road: This isn't the ending. Nope, this is one of the happier moments that comes before the part where Kate gives herself a bathroom back ally and dies in the process. The dream is over, kids. Life just got real real.
2. The Mist
: Based on that Stephen King novella,The Mist
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shows us how shitty it is to make dude decisions. What you don't get from the upbeat ending added onto this trailer (thanks for that!) is that when faced with an exhausted gas supply and what seems like minimal options, dad shoots everyone in the car except himself. He can't; he's only got four bullets and there are five of 'em. Sucks that they were moments away from rescue and he probably didn't need to murder everyone he held dear.
1. Requiem for a Dream: Even if you make it through this film by clinging to the oceanic depths that are Jordan Catalano's eyes, this ending destroys you. I wound up in full fetal on the floor of some South Florida art house theater. I immediately called my parents and told them I loved them.
Now I'm going to go eat a giant pizza from Papa John's with extra tubs of garlic butter sauce, just to take the pain away.