This Pick Six is a bit out of place, as the only motivation I have in writing this is my own struggling with sleep lately. I’ve been a bit sick, coughing all night and hacking up a storm until I just pass out from exhaustion. So, as anyone would, I’d lay in bed thinking up all sorts of crazy ideas trying to pass the time. Thus, the following list- the six best movies dealing with sleep and dreams.
Sleepwalk with Me, 2012, dir. Mike Birbiglia
Sleepwalk with Me is one of my favorite movies of the past year and one of the first films that now come to mind when I think of sleep. Starring comedian Mike Birbiglia in his first feature film, the story follows an aspiring stand-up comedian juggling his career, a relationship, and his chronic sleepwalking. The movie is a genius comedy in the style of classic Woody Allen and knowing that a large part of the plot is based off of real aspects of Birgbilia’s life adds to the emotion (he’s a chronic sleepwalker in real life). While the sleepwalking plays a smaller part in the film in comparison to the emotional core, we still get to see his fun (and very dangerous) ventures into the realm of sleep and his wild dreams. Who knew there was a Dust Buster Olympics?
Inception, 2010, dir. Christopher Nolan
The second film that comes to mind when I think of sleep and dreams is Inception. Right after hearing BRAAAHMMM in my head, I immediately think about all of the levels of dreaming Christopher Nolan so masterfully created in his 2010 original work. Parodied to death and universally misunderstood, Inception is an exceptional effort in technical film-making and proves that when creativity teams up with a whole lot of money, good stuff happens. It’s a smart blockbuster that makes you think and features a handful of scenes that blow your mind (the hallway fight is ridiculous!). Yes, I am a Nolan fanboy, but Inception is a worthy addition to the list and one hell of a film.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984, dir. Wes Craven
When one of the taglines for a film is “Sleep Kills”, you know you’re going to have a bad time. A Nightmare on Elm Street is not only a great movie dealing with catching Z’s and dreams, it’s one of the most iconic horror films of all time. Freddy Krueger is a very unique breed of villain, as he gets you when you’re most vulnerable- sleeping in bed. A large part of the success of the film (and the franchise) is the talent of Krueger himself, Robert Englund, and his charismatic, yet perverted bad guy is what we all remember. When I saw the film for the first time, I will admit I was a bit hesitant on going to sleep that night because I had no idea what images, creatures, and baddies lurked in my dreams, waiting for me to pass over into the realm of sleep. Oh, and way to make bath tubs both sexy and scary, Craven.
Fight Club, 1999, dir. David Fincher
I can’t talk about this, right?
In all seriousness, Fight Club is a film that shows you what happens when a man goes weeks without sleeping and the toll it takes on him both physically and emotionally. Sleep is far from the first thing you think of when Fight Club comes to mind, but it really is the driving force (and possible explanation) for the film. Would Tyler Durden exist if Edward Norton got eight hours of sleep each night? We will never know. As a film, however, Fight Club is towards the top of the best. Easily one of David Fincher’s greatest films, the movie has achieved iconic status, cult status, and is a go to film for every guy. Genius writing, and even better acting make Fight Club one of my own favorite films. Norton and Brad Pitt need to team up again. It’s been far too long.
Waking Life, 2001, dir. Richard Linklater
Waking Life is a film I try to mention whenever possible, as it’s more unique than anything I’ve seen before and is quite the experience in its own right. Part documentary, part fictional odyssey, the film follows a young man wandering from place to place, discussing every facet of life you can think of and trying to figure out the meaning of the universe. Simple, right? What makes Waking Life so good is it’s delivery and presentation as well as an incredible script by Linklater. The movie looks like a painting as it takes life action movement and then adds animation on top of it, creating a rather surreal effect, only adding to its originality As for the script, Linklater proves he’s one of the masters of dialogue and each conversation feels organic and real, never forced or pretentious. It’s a film that makes you think and even teaches you a few things along the way, and you never feel like you’re sitting in a lecture or listening to an audio tape, you’re fully invested.
Ink, 2009, dir. Jamin Winans
Ink is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. It’s a micro-budget independent film made by genius filmmaker Jamin Winans and tells the story of a little girl getting trapped in the world between ours and that of dreams. It’s an incredibly original film that’s driven by its story and music and packs one hell of an emotional punch. To give you a little more insight, the movie follows the age old story of good versus evil, but adds a twist when it puts those responsible for our dreams against those who cause our nightmares. It’s quite a profound experience as well, and while I’m not a father myself, I can only imagine how much more this film would move me had I known what it’s like to have a kid of my own.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Wizard of Oz
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