Chosen by Maddy Glenn
Director Ari Folman’s mind-bending The Congress – the partly animated, partly live-action movie that wowed Cannes earlier this year – gets its UK release next month. Robin Wright (playing a version of herself) signs a contract with “Miramount studios” who preserve her as an avatar in a new computer programme. Twenty years later, technology has advanced ever further and the human race is addicted to a drug that allows them to live a life of dreams.
If that isn’t head-spinning enough for you, here’s a list of the top 10 films that make us question our own reality, tapping into mankind’s fear of the unknown and shaking up everything we thought we knew about our world.
1. The Matrix
The red pill or the blue pill? Which would you take? – The Matrix is a computer simulator in which our minds live their lives, while our bodies lie preserved in the old “real” world. Thomas Andeson is a computer programmer who maintains a double life as an online hacker, “Neo”. Upon discovery of The Matrix, Anderson finds himself hunted by men in suits and has to rely upon fellow hackers, Trinity and Morpheus, to keep him alive. When Morpheus gives him the choice of ignorance or truth, the life that he knows is dramatically shaken as he learns that none of it was ever real.
Layer upon layer – Dom Cobb is a fugitive and skilled thief, stealing secrets stored deep within his victims’ subconscious during the ‘dream state’. In return for redemption, Cobb and his team of specialists are given a task; not to steal a thought but to plant one, a process called ‘inception’. Using a ‘totem’ – an object used to test if you’re in reality or a dream state – they manage to keep track of themselves. But can dreams become reality?
Quiet Joel and the ever-changing hair – Two lovers (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) erase their memories of each other when their relationship begins to fade. During the film we see into the diminishing memories of Joel Barish and start to question whether we, ourselves, are in a memory or in reality, or whether we’ve erased anything before.
4. The Host
Bella Swan meets the aliens – From Stephanie Meyer’s novel of the same name, comes a seemingly harmless Sci-fi/Fantasy in which an alien life form takes over the minds of humans. Despite their peace-loving nature, they threaten our sense of identity. Melanie Stryder fights to prevent Wanderer from taking over her mind; resulting in a dual personality with dual love interests.
All the world’s a stage – Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lives an ordinary life in the picture perfect town of Seahaven, unaware that he is the star of a documentary come reality TV show and that all his family and friends are actors. In the course of the film, he uncovers the secret and learns that his whole life was a lie.
6. The Congress
A slippery slope – Robin Wright (starring as a version of herself) is a fading celebrity who signs on with a film company who have discovered a new scientific development: A programme that allows actors to be saved and preserved as a memory chip, owned by the “Miramount” studio. The new discoveries slowly turn ever more sinister when a drug is released to the public, preserving them in their cartoon avatars, living the life of their dreams.
Faulty memory – Leonard (Guy Pearce) faces trauma watching the violent death of his wife and, as a result, suffers (oddly specific) short-term memory loss. We watch his pursuit for revenge in reverse and join in with his confusion…whether we’re meant to or not…
Curious incidents (including a dog in the night-time) – “You stole my story, Mr Rainey,” says Shooter, the movie’s villian. Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp), living in a down-beat shack, is pursued and threatened by the mysterious John Shooter, who claims that Rainey stole his story. After a series of murders, threatening letters and disturbing omens, the movie takes a turn – who is Mort Rainey and who is John Shooter? Are they not they same person?
Computer scientist Hannon Fuller leaves his colleague, Douglas Hall, his newest discovery: a computer generated parallel world set in the (highly romanticised) 30’s. Similar to the Matrix, this film draws a parallel to computer programmes and ordinary life and, ultimately, asks “when does reality become reality?”
10. Total Recall
A machine that can implant memory – Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenneger (1990), Colin Farrell (2012)) discovers “Rekall”; a company that provides memory implants. Quaid opts for memories of being a secret agent on Mars but the procedure, seemingly, goes wrong. On his way home, events slip into the bizarre and we start to question whether or not the procedure actually did go wrong.