The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Open Ended Movies

The Star-Child into which Dr. Bowman is transf...
The Star-Child into which Dr. Bowman is transformed, looking at Earth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The films that I'll be listing in my April postings will not necessarily be films that I'd call my favorite films, but they will be favorites in the genres I'll be naming.   The A to Z genres are very specific micro genres as opposed to the broader genres like action, romance, or comedy.

        Another one of my favorite film sub-genres is the open ended movie.  This is the head scratcher "what-was-that?" film that either leaves the viewer frustrated or gets them discussing and pondering the film long after they've seen it.  The ending may be considered to be ambiguous, confusing, or not an ending at all.  Many people don't like this movie genre because they want a clear cut and dried ending.  If a movie sticks in my head and makes me start wondering what it all meant then I'm kind of pleased.

        Here are some of my favorites in the Open-ended genre:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- With one of the trippiest endings of any movie, this film is greatness throughout.   Breathtaking visuals culminate in a spaced-out enigma.  Whoa, heavy man!  That was far out!

The Tenant  (1976) --This psychological thriller by Roman Polanski is not all that difficult to figure out, but it's a bit of a mind-bender.  Very weird and creepy.

Limbo (1999) -- I saw this one in a theater and at the end I heard people cursing they were so angry about the ending.  I, on the other hand, thought about it for days.  How did it end?  Eventually I realized the brilliance of the ending in what my interpretation was.  It's a well-acted ensemble piece by talented writer-director John Sayles.  I think this is an excellent work of film art with one of my favorite movie endings.

A Serious Man (2009) -- This Oscar nominated film by the Coen Brothers is a thoughtful excursion into weirdness.  There are some contemplative issues addressed in the film.  It has one of those "okay" endings, and by that I mean you stroke your chin and say "Ooo-kaaay, now what does this mean?".   I like the image at the end of the movie.

Take Shelter (2011) -- This is one of those films that taken as a whole could have more than one interpretation.   The question of the film is was the story what we thought it was during the movie or does the ending make it a different story?   I suppose the interpretation is what you want it to be so you'll have to watch it to make your own decision.

Life of Pi (2012)-- This is a film of breath-taking beauty.  Most of you have probably seen this already.  If you haven't, you should.  Like the previously mentioned film there is more than one way to interpret this film and that is the crux of the meaning of the story itself.  In the end, the viewer is left to decide.  This is a very fine film.

         Which of these have you seen?    Can you think of some open-ended films that are your favorites?  Do you like a film with a puzzling ending or do you prefer a clear ending?




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30 comments:

  1. Biggest open ended movie is Inception - the whole 'did the top stop spinning?' (I think it did.)
    Life of Pi was a beautiful and spiritually moving film.

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  2. Have seen The space Odessy, but as for the others alas no.
    Varied choice.

    Yvonne.

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  3. I loved Life of Pi! I like to believe the tiger story because it's the less grotesque one.

    My favorite open-ended films are Inception and Another Earth. The latter is a thought provoking indie film.

    ~ D is for Deecoded ~

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  4. I love A Space Odyssey so I really should check out the rest of these films here, definitely melts me mentally, these open endings.

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  5. I haven't seen any of them. I guess my movie viewing is highly lacking.




    http://agutandabutt.blogspot.com/

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  6. I loved Life of Pi...the book especially, but I thought they did a good job staying true to the story with the film. Did you see The Words with Bradley Cooper? I think it fits this category.

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  7. I like to think. Open ended movies allow that.

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  8. Nope I am one who wants my ending cut and dried. The first open ending I ever came across was Gone With the Wind and I hated it. Yes, I thought about it for a long time, maybe 50 years or more, but I still don't like such endings. I was going to see Life of Pi, but now I'm not so sure.

    JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

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  9. I enjoy open ended movies up to a point (loved 2001) but sometimes I feel cheated, as thought the writers couldn't decide on the ending so they just left it hanging.

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  10. Alex -- Inception has certainly been debated as to the ending.

    Yvonne -- You might enjoy Limbo but I don't know if you'd like the ending.

    Dee -- Another Earth was interesting. I thought it seemed like a more intelligent and philosophical version of Blair Witch Project--weird, huh.

    Yeamie -- The ambiguous ending can stretch our minds.

    Betty -- You're probably just watching different movies than I am--most people are in fact.

    Joyce -- Did not see The Words but I think it was recommended to me. I'll check my Netflix queue.

    Faraway -- Yes they do.

    Jo - Go see Life of Pi the ending is mostly a matter of which ending you like best. One might also call this a life decision movie.

    LD -- If I'm left to contemplate and do serious thought about the implications of the possible endings, then I think the open film ending has been done successfully.

    Lee

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  11. Take Shelter was one of the best movies of the last few years. Very impressive. Michael Shannon was incredible, and I'm looking forward to his performace as Zod this summer!

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  12. I've only seen one of these movies. I haven't seen Life of Pi mostly because I found the book so incredibly boring.

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  13. I USED to love these kinds of movies, and the discussions they produced, but The Engineer is SO not into discussing movies. Watch. Pronounce opinion of good or bad - no in between, he's ALL black and white. Go on to next activity. Also, no pausing to discuss something in the middle. Sigh. Maybe I'll torture him and rent Life of Pi which I've been wanting to see...
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

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  14. Lee-

    My first writing teacher was Tom Williams in tenth grade. He's a man who made a big impact on my life, by introducing me to Todd Rundgren's music and by helping me to simply grow up.

    I remember when he gave us our first short story assignment, he only had one rule.

    If at the end, it was all a dream, you fail the course.

    That's how Life Of Pi made me feel-loved it right up until the end.

    I am trying not to say too much to spoil the film for readers who may not have seen it yet.

    Suffice to say...I do not prefer the open-ended genre...

    Spock's Beard show in San Pedro was awesome! I went both nights...

    Larry

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  15. I think I saw Space Odyssey ten times. I've seen Take Shelter and walked out with a lot of questions. I like it when a film provokes discussion.

    Haven't seen Life of Pi yet. I read the book several years ago and love it, so I'm hoping the film will delight me as much as it seems to have delighted others.

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  16. Ash -- You may have been one of those on whose recommendation I saw Take Shelter. I heard about it from a few bloggers, but little elsewhere.

    Susan -- I was afraid the movie might be boring but I didn't think so at all. And my wife didn't fall asleep so I think that says a lot.

    Tina -- I enjoy a good discussion about a movie if it has some depth.

    Larry -- Sorry I missed you in San Pedro. I'm sure the concert was very good. Life of Pi delivered more than I had expected and I thought it presented an interesting case. I didn't see it as the all a dream ending at all, but more of the case where some people don't like a story and prefer the version that fits their perception of what is logical.

    C.Lee -- I think it's great when the film discussion goes beyond the film and delves into the essence of life issues and other deep realms. To me this is what great literature should do.

    Lee



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  17. I've seen Space Oddyssey and it didn't do much for me. I also saw Inception and found the ending very thought-provoking.

    I don't think I could honestly say whether I enjoy these types of movies or not. If I like one, I simply do and vice versa.

    thanks for the thoughts.. :)

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  18. Alex commented it first and better than I would have: Inception, Did the top stop???
    2001: A Space Odyssey was indeed a trippy, what the heck? kind of ending!
    Layer Cake is quite open ended, although it would fall under Mobster/Gangster movies probably!

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  19. I haven't seen any of those movies (no even 2001 A Space Odyssey) but I want to see Life of Pi - someday when I don't live so far from the theater.

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  20. The only one I've seen is 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    I can't wait to see Life of Pi!

    Lyre @ Lyre's Musings

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  21. Sheena-kay-- vapid entertainment has its time and place, but something that makes me think is a good mental exercise.

    Fe -- I think if the story resonates strongly enough for us to invest ourselves into it then we are willing to accept a more thoughtful ending.

    David -- I have not seen Layer Cake yet, but I've heard that it is quite good.

    Gwen -- Life of Pi is available on DVD in the U.S. at least.

    Lyre-- I thought Life of Pi was outstanding.

    Lee

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  22. I wish I had more OPEN Time in my life. lol.

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  23. I'm thinking that the open ended movie (and book) must have been a precusor to fan fiction. What a great platform to work from.

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  24. I love these types of movies too. Great choices!

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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  25. I don't mind open endings in movies, but in Tv series...I absolutely hate it then.
    Blessings, Joanne

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  26. I loved Life Of Pi! It was a beautiful film with a great message. I really enjoyed the way it let you draw your own conclusions.
    Shawn at Reading Practice

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  27. Jeanette -- Well, yeah, that would be nice. Maybe I could watch more than one or two movies each week, not to mention all the other stuff I could get done.

    Judy -- Yes, you have a point, though I think the best open-ended films are not good sequel material.

    Kristen -- Thank you!

    Joanne -- I agree! An open ending there usually means the show got cancelled and the viewer got stuck.

    Shawn -- I agree and it represented the essential of what the God debate ends up being. The visuals in the film were outstanding.

    Lee


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  28. I want to see Life of Pi. But I have to read the book first!

    I thought that Inception was an open-ended movie. The ending really got me thinking.

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  29. Hi Lee .. I did get to see the Life of Pi .. but the others you mention: no, nor the last two posts ..

    I obviously have lots of catching up to do .. cheers Hilary

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Lee