JAMIN WINANS’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

 is an independent filmmaker working out of Denver, Colorado. His second feature film, the allegorical dream fable Ink, is certified by this site as one of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time. Ink currently holds a 100% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and critics compared the style to works of and . His latest feature is the mind-bender The Frame. Together with his wife and collaborator Kiowa, Winans founded Double Edge Films to release his movies on his own terms without studio interference. DVD or digital versions of Ink and The Frame, and related merchandise, can be purchased directly from Double Edge films.

As it turns out, most of my favorite movies would be classified as “weird movies” so really I just need to list some of those.  These films aren’t wildly obscure or crude films, but they’re films that weren’t easy to get made just because they were doing something different.  A majority of them are from the 90’s, which was an amazing period for unique voices.

12 Monkeys (1995 – Terry Gilliam)

What I love about this movie is that Gilliam somehow sneaked a very weird film past Hollywood and into a wide release by disguising it as a and  blockbuster.  I had never been so confused and simultaneously so moved by a movie as 12 Monkeys.  I turned right around and immediately went to see it again.  It was even better and weirder the more I saw it.

The Blues Brothers (1980 – John Landis)

Still from Blues Brothers (1980)This was one of the very first movies I saw as a kid and I just loved it.  I wanted to be Elwood.  It’s not commonly seen as a “weird movie”, but when you look at it, it’s insane!  A couple of ex-con blues musicians go on a mission from God across the country to save an orphanage where they’re chased by Nazis, hicks, and the entire city of Chicago.  Oh, and it’s a musical.  Only John Landis…

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004 – )

 is one of the greatest writers of our time.  Michel Gondry is one of the most creative filmmakers of our time.  The two working together on a very sweet, yet profoundly deep film about love and pain turned out to be something magical.  An incredible cast (my favorite  performance) and a beautiful style.

The Double Life Of Veronique (1991 – Kryzystof Kieslowski)

I admire Kieslowski more than almost any other filmmaker because he was able to reach such depth in his work while having such a gentle touch in style.  Nothing was forced or too broad, yet everything he did had such spiritual depth and tension.  Veronique is my favorite “weird” Kieslowski film because it has so little exposition.  It’s an almost science-fiction story that he doesn’t so much tell, but rather opens a window to and lets you peek inside.  He explains nothing.

In The Mouth Of Madness (1994 – )

This is a Carpenter film that is seldom mentioned when people talk about his work, but it’s my favorite of his.  I saw it when I was a teenager and no movie had ever turned my mind inside out so effectively.  I remember driving home questioning reality like I never had.  I still credit it as being a big influence on me.  Michael De Luca deserves a lot of credit as well for his wonderful script.

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (2005 – Park Chan-wook)

Park Chan-wook is one of my favorite filmmakers working today.  He has such a unique and uncompromising voice and is incredibly creative.  Many hold Oldboy as his signature film, but for me Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is my favorite of that trilogy.  I love the bizarre combination of poetry, comedy, and darkness.  It’s not just the subject matter, but Park’s point of view.

Dark City (1998 – )

After seeing and loving Proya’s The Crow, I rushed out to see Dark City and dragged my friends.  The film absolutely blew my mind both intellectually as well as visually.  My friends?  They all hated it.  And so I spent the drive home defending the movie and insisting they were all fools.  Later, I was thrilled to find out Roger Ebert was a huge fan of the film and actually went around the country analyzing it shot by shot with audiences.

Lost Highway (1997 – )

This was my first Lynch film and consequently it impacted me the most. It was tonally unlike anything I had ever seen and it amazed me how something with such a hard to grasp narrative could still be so compelling and entertaining.  Admittedly, I was not a Lynch fan initially.  It took me a while before I realized he wasn’t just throwing paint at a wall, but actually had deep intent behind every shot.  He makes his audience rise to his level.

Spirited Away (2001 – )

Stil from Spirited Away (2001)I doubt many would classify Spirited as “weird”, but I think that’s because it’s so beautiful.  The world creation is so immersive and elegant it’s easy to forget just how bizarre and unique it actually is.  As an American viewer everything about it felt so foreign and fresh and even the narrative structure felt different.  There are few films I would consider masterpieces, but this is one of them (Miyazaki having several).

Toys (1992 – Barry Levinson)

This is one of the most underrated works of art I have ever seen.  I think largely because it was marketed as a  comedy.  The fact is, it’s a completely surreal, highly visual, whimsical piece of cinema directed by one of Hollywood’s best, Barry Levinson.  It’s just a beautiful movie that captures the unrestricted imagination that comes with being a kid and loving toys.  How a movie like this got made through the studio system is beyond me, but I’m so glad it did.  I still listen to the soundtrack all the time to help put me in that place.

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