Strictly speaking, I'm never supposed to do this.
February 5, 2013 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I like movies that mostly reflect reality (er...let's say enhanced reality) but have a pop of wtf-was-that. Like the square that Mia draws in Pulp Fiction.

I think the Coen brothers do a really great job of capturing what I love.

Like, in the Hudsucker Proxy, everything teeters riiiight on the edge of being completely over the top, but then there's that scene at the end where (spoiler) time stops and angel Charles Durning comes floating down.

Or in Raising Arizona, same thing. The whole movie is right on the verge of insanity, but nothing impossible, except for apparent helldemon Leonard Smalls.

What I'd like is some movie recommendations that feature that kind of thing: a movie mostly full of things that could technically possibly happen, but with one or two little touches of crazy.

I would also like to know what that touch of crazy is. I don't care about spoilers.

Let's say that things like the Sixth Sense don't count, where the entire movie is premised on the fact that said crazy thing exists, even though you only find out about it at the end.
posted by phunniemee to Media & Arts (90 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of the French New Wave does this, Godard in particular. The weird jump cuts in Breathless, the sudden musical breaks in A Woman is a Woman.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:54 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think Amélie fits the bill.
posted by mhum at 8:56 AM on February 5, 2013 [10 favorites]

Scott Pilgrim? Maybe too over the top
posted by MangyCarface at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I hate hate hate this movie which makes me loathe to recommend it, but there's a moment early in "Fight Club" that does exactly what you're looking for - a character flickers in and out in a way that is almost imperceptible, but makes you go, "wait, what was that?"
posted by jbickers at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's a difficult movie, but Tideland.
posted by edgeways at 9:02 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I *heart* Huckabees has a lot of that, and in a way so does David O Russel's earlier film Three Kings. I think of it as a sort of cinematic hypertext.
posted by gauche at 9:04 AM on February 5, 2013 [6 favorites]

At the very end of Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves a camera CGI-swoops a mile into the air and shows giant bells tolling in heaven.

Michael Haneke's Funny Games has a pivotal scene where the villain literally picks up a remote control and rewinds the movie ten seconds to undo his partner's bloody death.
posted by theodolite at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, in a weird way, and I'm not necessarily recommending it as a movie, but I think there's some of this in Disney's real life/animated film Enchanted although it may be in-universe justified by the fact that the characters are fairy-tale people come to life in NYC.
posted by gauche at 9:11 AM on February 5, 2013

Response by poster: but I think there's some of this in Disney's real life/animated film Enchanted

ha! I actually just watched Enchanted this weekend hoping it would hit the right buttons! (It didn't, and I'm jonesing for some new stuff, hence the question.)

theodolite--those two things sound like EXACTLY what I'm looking for!

It has been years probably ten years since I saw Amelie, but aren't there a number of magical elements in it? Maybe I'm not remembering it correctly.
posted by phunniemee at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2013

The raining frogs at the end of Magnolia.
posted by Lorin at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

A Life Less Ordinary could fit this. The story line it self is plausible...with a fantastic touches.
posted by Captain_Science at 9:17 AM on February 5, 2013

Would Run Lola Run fit the bill?
posted by Lucinda at 9:18 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

High Fidelity - strictly speaking I suppose the moments that would qualify can all be read as narrative devices, not exactly direct infringement of the rules of reality, but I enjoy them in the same way that I do bits like that square in Pulp Fiction.

What about Annie Hall?
posted by brennen at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Run Lola Run.
posted by wwax at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2013

The Scooby Doo Ending from Wayne's World?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:23 AM on February 5, 2013

Not a movie, but I was watching the first episode of the new Netflix series House of Cards last night and there's a startling moment where Kevin Spacey's character gets a text message and a little CG callout hovers over the phone showing you what it says, like in a Sprint commercial.
posted by theodolite at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a few moments like this in Moulin Rouge (the green absinthe fairy, the moon singing).

Also the whole beauty school dropout number in Grease.
posted by shelleycat at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

A general suggestion, you might get a lot of hits that are too fantastical for your taste, but trolling trough a Google search of "Magic realism movies" just might give you a few gems here and there.
posted by edgeways at 9:26 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Blue In The Face. The entire film was ad-libbed so the story thruline is rather chaotic, but it's still worth it to see the spontaneous dance break lead by Ru Paul and Lou Reed rambling on about whatever apparently came into his head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on February 5, 2013

I don't know if Blazing Saddles counts, but both the Lili von Shtupp nightclub scene and, especially, the later musical number with Dom DeLuise made me go "What the what?" the first couple of times.
posted by Melismata at 9:28 AM on February 5, 2013

Not a movie, but there was an episode of Moonlighting in which there's a knock at the door, and Bruce Willis' character turns to the camera and says (paraphrasing) "Audience! Should I answer it?" and the camera nods for yes.
posted by Billiken at 9:28 AM on February 5, 2013

Also in Blazing Saddles there's a scene where Harvey Korman's character is mulling over his options (again paraphrasing):

"Should I do this? Should I do that?" (looks into camera) "Why am i asking you?"
posted by Billiken at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2013

Not a movie, but I was watching the first episode of the new Netflix series House of Cards last night and there's a startling moment where Kevin Spacey's character gets a text message and a little CG callout hovers over the phone showing you what it says, like in a Sprint commercial.

This happens pretty much constantly in Moffat's Sherlock (again, not a movie). It is used to some comical effect at the beginning because there a text sent to an entire room of reporters.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Swingers: the scene in which Mike's answering machine talks to him.
posted by ewiar at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2013

Also, this is perhaps a bit too subtle to qualify but the end of Ghost World slips into the surreal after being very realistic throughought. The old man's bus shows up despite it being out of service for years and that evening Edith catches the same bus to who-knows-where.
posted by Lorin at 9:32 AM on February 5, 2013

Henry and June - the gamesmanship of Uma Thurman's character as well as the many street magicians/tricksters

Being There - just about the whole thing is somewhat loony and kind of plausible at the same time

Sullivan's Travels - just see it. :-)
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2013

Oh and Ghost World kind of reminds me. American Splendor, is a nice blend of Harvey Pekar playing himself in parts and Paul Giamatti playing Harvey Pekar for the main body of the movie. Some meta moments.. and just generally a good movie.
posted by edgeways at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd call this "whimsy," maybe. Comedy films out of the slapstick tradition, especially the silents, are full of these little moments. Buster Keaton jumping into a movie screen in Sherlock Jr., Stan Laurel using his thumb as a lighter in Way Out West. Chaplin, Tati, etc. It's wonderful!
posted by thetortoise at 9:41 AM on February 5, 2013

I just saw a weird little movie called Spork (streaming on Netflix). It's about a high school reject who finds friends and in the end kicks ass at the school talent show (shades of Napoleon dynamite). But there are several WTF parts... I couldn't figure out when it was supposed to be set, and at times the sky is just drawn in (as in with crayons).
It's pretty low budget, but was a fun watch.
posted by maryrussell at 9:43 AM on February 5, 2013

The Science of Sleep. Most of the unrealistic elements are dream sequences but there are a few that aren't.
posted by capricorn at 9:46 AM on February 5, 2013

There's a very strange moment in Killing Zoe - which for the most part is played as a straightforward bank heist film - where a character snaps his fingers and a spark goes shooting out. No reason. Visible at 1:08 in this trailer if you want to save yourself the entire movie.
posted by komara at 9:46 AM on February 5, 2013

Pretty much anything by Jacques Tati.

Playtime is a particularly good example.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:47 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was thinking of Flirting with Disaster with Ben Stiller. It has that ridiculous Raising Arizona quality, especially the part where he meets his real parents, Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda--his acid dealing artist parents--and their jealous son Lonnie who tries to dose Ben Stiller during dinner.
posted by biscuits at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2013

(500) Days of Summer isn't a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination (I don't recommend it if you're allergic to twee), but it does have an intentionally over-the-top, almost metatextual sequence early on. You can watch it here. Context: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character has just spent the night at his crush's place for the first time.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Happiness of the Katakuris has a story that contains no supernatural elements, but there are moments in which it veers off into using the visual language of the impossible to tell the story it's trying to tell: a prologue establishes the themes of the movie by depicting a claymation imp who falls in love with a woman's uvula and then gets killed repeatedly, just when he thinks he's ahead of the game; the walls fall away during the film's first song and dance number (it's a musical); people who stay at the family's bed and breakfast keep dying through no fault of the family, and they keep hiding the bodies, and at one point the bodies stand up and begin singing and dancing along with the family. What I think separates this from a standard musical, and why I think it may be what you're after, is the fact that on more than one occasion, after the song ends, we are given clear visual evidence that some part of what we just saw actually happened. After the dead-bodies song, the bodies are right back where they were before getting up, but the family is in the positions they were in when the dancing ended. Little things like that keep happening. At the end, their house is saved by an act that appears to be a metaphorical depiction of the family's love and support for one another, but a small amount of thought will cause you to realize that the only way the ending could happen is if they literally did become claymation puppets larger than the house and held it up to keep it away from the flood.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here is a sort of almost (inverse?) example: The Social Network.

This article/clip from NY Magazine blew my mind -- I watched that movie and had no idea all the CGI Special FX wizardry they were using to make the Winklevoss twins actually identical twins in that movie. It was just so over-the-top pointlessly absurd to me -- almost no one watching that movie knew exactly what they looked like or how identical they were, so why bother!? The other actor/double actually looked so close, that it just seems absurd! It's like, this hidden CGI / rendered reality for no real reason -- and once you know it becomes all the more interesting. It's like the Terminator hiding inside a documentary about Facebook!
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:57 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Safety Not Guaranteed works for this, I think.
posted by yarrow at 10:02 AM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Came in to suggest Run Lola Run, too. And possibly Stranger than Fiction.
posted by E3 at 10:05 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Claire Denis Friday Night, a little moment or two of something magical
posted by citron at 10:06 AM on February 5, 2013

Beginners is an extremely poignant account of a man looking back on losing his father - who came out of the closet in his final years - to cancer. As far as movies about losing a parent goes, it sometimes seems like it could be almost too realistic.

The reason I immediately thought of this movie is because, for whatever reason, he has a dog who communicates with subtitles. Somehow, it works.
posted by windbox at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a very strange moment in Killing Zoe

There are also visible musical notes when a band is playing, floating out of the instruments like a cartoon.

Southland Tales YMMV on whether the rest of the movie is "right on the verge of insanity" or already well past that verge, but then for one scene, out of nowhere, there's a song and a choreographed dance number.
posted by RobotHero at 10:16 AM on February 5, 2013

I wonder if Big Fish would have too many fantasy elements for you. It's a great movie, anyhow.
posted by anastasiav at 10:16 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

The monologue addressing the audience in JCVD.
posted by RobotHero at 10:21 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow, I'm surprised to see two Run Lola Run suggestions-- it's a really fun movie that bends reality in neat visual ways.

I'm absolutely stunned nobody's mentioned the films of Charlie Kaufman yet! There's none of that visual style but his stories are pretty much built around the question "what if this extremely weird thing happened in this completely average person's life." Being John Malkovich sees a character finding a door to the mind of John Malkovich in his office building (and following the experience dumping him on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind imagines a world where one can pay to have memories erased.

Someone mentioned the films of Godard, especially Breathless-- those are pure visual style and a clear inspiration for Pulp Fiction.
posted by dr handsome at 10:26 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Zazie dans le Metro is either the worst or best example of this.
posted by dobbs at 10:44 AM on February 5, 2013

There's the (somewhat dated political correctness-wise) Kevin Kline film In & Out, which is played entirely straight (no pun intended) except for the scene where Kline's character listens to a motivational tape to try to make himself more macho, and the guy on the tape suddenly starts responding to what Kline's character is doing.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Subway is about a guy with a general distaste for safes (and a supply of dynamite) who enters the hidden, subterranean world of the people who live in the Paris Metro. There's a gorgeous woman in a fabulous dress, armed thugs who want "the thing", champagne, weed, a "Hey, lets form a band!" sequence, cops, parties, flowers, roller skates, and a waiter with a shitty attitude and delicious pastries that no one wants.

All that and Luc Besson as director.

SEE IT IN FRENCH! Find a subtitled version, but DO NOT WATCH THE ENGLISH-DUBBED VERSION! There is a scene where one character affects a whiney bitch-voice on purpose, and when they dubbed it into English they made that her voice for the entire thing and it is WRONG WITH A WRONGNESS THAT WRONGIFIES THE ENTIRE MOVIE.

In French, English subtitles.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by plinth at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Repo Man! The crazy would be the aliens (or whatever was in the Malibu's trunk) and its flight at the end.
posted by Rash at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York has lots of this. It's about a hypochondriac theater director who is awarded a huge grant to launch an original theater piece. He decides to build a full-size replica of New York City inside an impossibly huge warehouse. And of course, his warehouse is new New York, so the replica also needs to have an impossibly huge warehouse in it.

And the story gets more surreal from there. It's one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.
posted by wolfnote at 12:43 PM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Wanted with James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. Action movies are not generally my thing but I sat transfixed from beginning to end, probably because it has those off-kilter moments you describe.

Why? The bullets? Man, the curved bullets! Plus a couple of spectacular impossible-except-in-a-not-sci-fi-but-almost-movie car chases. Not ashamed to say I watched it twice. And will a third time when it next appears on the tellybox.
posted by humph at 1:07 PM on February 5, 2013

Marie Antoinette. The music is modern and there's at least one other intentional anachronism that shows up for a few seconds.
posted by gentian at 1:12 PM on February 5, 2013

Delicatessen hovers in that grey area between horror, fantasy, romance and comedy with occasional deep forays into each genre. Well worth seeing.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:21 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Blue Velvet - when Dennis Hopper snaps his fingers and he and his gang magically disappear. Even though the whole film has a distinct unreal quality, that scene always gives me a chill with it's supreme, scary weirdness.
posted by marimeko at 3:12 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Werner Herzog's My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done. Really teeters on the edge of cray and then from time to time just goes for it.
posted by Ms. Toad at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2013

The talking freeway sign in L.A. Story kicks it up from sweet and silly to magical.
posted by platinum at 3:29 PM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

A number of Woody Allen movies have moments like this. A few less well known titles:

New York Stories ( his mothe appears as a giant face floating over the city)

Everyone Says I Love You (singing ghosts, and a magically-enhanced dance number)

Deconstructing Harry ( an actor becomes "blurry" for no apparent reason)

Purple Rose of Cairo: (actor emerges from a movie screen into real life)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:09 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Great question. I love this too, whatever it's called.

Yet another Woody Allen one: Stardust Memories (many examples, but the one that comes to mind is a conversation with aliens who say they like his earlier, funnier stuff).

It's not a movie, but the FX show Louie fits the style. Example: at the end of a horrible date, a woman escapes via helicopter. Off-the-wall moments don't turn up in every episode, but when they do, they're great.

It's a small thing, but I love the two moments in Trading Places when Eddie Murphy looks directly at the camera.

In Life of Brian, a comedic parallel to the life of Jesus, aliens swoop in out of nowhere and temporarily abduct Brian, with no explanation given.

Donnie Darko sort of fits, though the weirdness is arguably the movie's core. It's mostly set in the real world of 1988 suburbia, but involves time travel and a giant supernatural rabbit.
posted by Mr. Harris at 5:29 PM on February 5, 2013

Just as a note to help you find more of what you're looking for, this is (broadly) called an exegetic or nondiegetic device; the most obvious and common exegetic device is offscreen narration, which is a little more banal than what you're looking for, but that may help you find more exegetic metanarrative devices.
posted by klangklangston at 5:29 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Grease does this. So does Wild at Heart although I think you might need to have seen Twin Peaks to get the full effect.

You'd probably like watching Being John Malkovich and then Adaptation. The synopsis of BJV may make it sound like it's more Sixth Sense (forgettable genre film hinges on big reveal of bending the laws of physics) but it's much more like the Coen brothers (hyper-real with a whimsical element).

Ferris Bueller's Day Off has this, and is even more enjoyable if you re-watch it after reading the Fight-Clubesque explanation.
posted by K.P. at 5:32 PM on February 5, 2013

You say you like a little "pop" of the un-reality. Synecdoche, New York, as wolfnote notes, has barrels and barrels of it. It is also realistic, too, grounded in all the very basic details of the life of its protagonist: love and loss. I also think it is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.

The movies you listed are also ones that I love (so we have similar tastes), but they are all a lot of fun. Honestly, Synecdoche sort of tore me apart, and I'm more or less working my way up to watching again, which I really want to do, but I'm not going to do lightly.

(Don't mean to come off all I-feel-things-more-deeply-than-the-rest-of-you. I don't. I just think it's a great movie, and it will work really well for people who like that kind of un-reality, but it's not exactly fun.)
posted by benito.strauss at 5:50 PM on February 5, 2013

Talk to Her (Hable Con Ella), Almodovar, the ahem, film-within-a-film.

Wonderful and gut-wrenching film.
posted by glasseyes at 7:46 PM on February 5, 2013

The Blues Brothers.

Because they're on a mission from God. And I like to imagine squadron of overworked angels following them around fixing things and covering them from shrapnel and punctured tires all the way to the Cook County Assessor's office.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:25 PM on February 5, 2013

I'm delighted by the scene in Mel Brooks's Spaceballs when Dark Helmet & his stooges rent the video for Spaceballs and fast forward through the movie to figure out where the main characters are hiding, only to land exactly at the moment where they're watching the movie, suddenly confronting infinity.
posted by silentbicycle at 9:13 PM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just as a note to help you find more of what you're looking for, this is (broadly) called an exegetic or nondiegetic device;
posted by klangklangston

That fits the Pulp Fiction example, but IMO it doesn't fit the Hudsucker Proxy or Raising Arizona examples.

If you do want nondiegetic stuff, there's Limitless and Premium Rush, though I think both return to the well more than once, rather than leave it with one scene.

In Whip It, while explaining the rules of roller derby, it shows a split-screen of someone drawing diagrams.

There's the fast-forward bit in Carrie. And the split-screens.
posted by RobotHero at 10:15 PM on February 5, 2013

I'll recommend Girl on the Bridge. Much of the centerpiece of the story (a far-from-perfect romance) revolves around knife-throwing... which makes you juuust wonder how real the knife-throwing is. A really great, little-known film.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:45 PM on February 5, 2013

Swimming Pool (which is mainly in French, but subtitled in English as needed) had a fair bit of reality-warpage going on. Mainly of the vaguely David Lynch/Hitchcockian psychological-thriller/ambiguously-unreliable-narrator variety. It's been long enough such that I can't actually recall the nature of the warpage well enough to provide spoilerrific details, but I definitely recommend it. It was much better than the synopsis even hinted at.
posted by aecorwin at 10:58 PM on February 5, 2013

My first thought for this was Jesus' Son. There's one scene at the end where the main character sticks his hand through a window. Not breaking the glass, just like the glass isn't even there. Everything else is mostly plausible (aside from a couple of drug induced hallucinations).
posted by dogwalker at 12:07 AM on February 6, 2013

Milcho Manchevski's Before the Rain is an otherwise realistic movie whose plot twists into an thoroughly unaccountable paradox by the end. It's much more interesting - and more strikingly weird - than I'm making it sound.

Alex Cox's Walker is ostensibly a satirical historical drama set in the mid-19th century, but there are all kinds of bizarre and impossible touches, such as a goddamn HELICOPTER.

Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale has a lot of fun with this, even though there is some final lampshade-hanging to have it all sort of make sense. For example, a man is shot in the chest, and when we see him seven years later, he still has the same bloodstain.

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds arguably does this, what with its ending and all.

Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof has the villain staring directly into the camera just as the "fun" begins.

Eli Roth's Cabin Fever has an ending which ought to seriously imply that everyone in the town is going to be horribly poisoned, but it just turns into an extended...hoedown.

Lars von Triers' Antichrist features a fox who croaks "CHAOS REIGNS." It is not otherwise the sort of film in which you would expect a talking fox.

Lars von Triers' Breaking the Waves features giant CG bells of indeterminate reality.

Not a movie, but the Buffy episode "Superstar" has a boatload of metatextual fun when it plays with its own credit sequence.

Kevin Allen's Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London is an otherwise terrible movie with one surprisingly redeeming quality: lots of interplay between diegetic and non-diegetic music. Characters whistle the movie's own theme song for segues, things like that, but the piece de resistance is when a children's orchestra creates a distraction by staging a mashup between "War (What is It Good For)" and Agent Cody Banks' own theme song.

Lee Harry's Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is riddled with this kind of stuff, although not necessarily with a lot of forethought. The main character is the brother of the first movie's main character. He has tons of flashbacks to events he would have had no memory of, but then most weirdly of all, he goes to see the first movie in the theaters.

Michael Haneke's Funny Games has a moment where (spoiler! alert) the family gets the upper hand, so the villains rewind the movie itself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:47 AM on February 6, 2013

The Men Who Stare At Goats.
A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army's New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.
Extra touch of crazy: it's based on a real-life story.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:56 AM on February 6, 2013

Oh man when the dog starts talking in Son of Sam
posted by jabes at 8:48 AM on February 6, 2013

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans has random lizard cameos courtesy of Werner Herzog (and enough Nicolas Cage freak-out to light a small town).
posted by benito.strauss at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2013

Another scene from 500 Days of Summer (which I actually thought was pretty good) about how expectations vs. reality can play out emotionally (the bit at the end references a huge drawing the main character had been doing on his apartment wall).
posted by lunasol at 9:23 AM on February 6, 2013

I have no idea how I went this long without thinking of this.

Crank: High Voltage is pretty much exactly what you're talking about.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2013

It was just so over-the-top pointlessly absurd to me -- almost no one watching that movie knew exactly what they looked like or how identical they were, so why bother!?

Black Swan is the same - there are some obvious and weird special effects which might fulfill this question as at times it isn't clear what's real and what isn't, but there is also an awful lot of CGI in terms of making the ballerinas look like the actors.

The Spanish film Lovers Of The Arctic Circle has a lot of this - time fast-forwarding is shown by the step-siblings sitting in the back of the car, the car jerking and them falling forward, and then lifting their heads as adults, rather than children. Despite this it feels like very much a real world story.
posted by mippy at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2013

There's a teeny bit of this in the Doctor Who episode The Angels Take Manhattan. There are just a few seconds where the Doctor and Amy go to see a potter, and "China 221BC" (or something like that) floats up.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:58 PM on February 6, 2013

Jesus Christ Superstar. There are postcard racks in the temple, and other details along those lines.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:59 PM on February 6, 2013

Pee-wee's Big Adventure is cartoony and exists in a hyper-reality, but there's a few scenes that might fit the bill. Like the part where he's walking around in the dark, and only his eyes are visible as in a cartoon.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 4:02 PM on February 6, 2013

Mostly for the girl in the pink bear suit.
But the whole thing has an air of lunacy to it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:02 PM on February 6, 2013

Oh, and the rabbit demon in Sexy Beast.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:05 PM on February 6, 2013

Grand Canyon for when Kevin Kline flies throgh the night sky into the window of his secretary's apartment. And the explosive ending of Zabriskie Point.
posted by Rash at 8:02 PM on February 6, 2013

Huh. Maybe I'm the only one who remembers it, but the movie Go (late 90s, ensemble cast, attempt at a 'one crazy night in LA,' vaguely be brat pack) has a strange interlude where a house cat starts speaking in Chinese to one of the characters, until the character points out that cats can't speak mandarin. The cat, annoyed, simply tells the character that they will die tonight. It's absolutely bizarre, and literally the only moment in the movie worth watching at all.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:41 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You mentioned the Coen Brothers already, so I guess you know about O Brother Where Art Thou.

Also, I hope when you watch some of these movies, the ones that fit what you're looking for exactly get tagged as best answer.
posted by garlic at 6:42 AM on February 12, 2013

I know you asked for movies, but I was watching Scrubs and thought of this thread. Andy Richter Controls The Universe also came to mind. Both shows use the device where a character might say that [event] happened and you see a scene of [event] with an absurd twist and then it comes back to the character explaining the way it actually happened. (Sometimes accompanied by a rewind-like sound effect.) I hope that makes sense!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:24 PM on February 13, 2013

Burn after Reading (another Coen Brothers)
True Romance (written by Quentin Tarantino...cheesy, but fun movie)
Harvey (so, so wonderful).
posted by hannahelastic at 2:42 PM on February 14, 2013

Is this slipstream but for movies?
posted by Monochrome at 9:36 AM on February 17, 2013

I would add Motorama to the list. It's set in an unspecified country that's clearly North-American in character (the main character drives a classic Mustang and there are a lot of route 66-type locations) but maps and road signs show denote completely fictional states. I haven't watched it in a long time and am not sure how well it's aged, but those details really added a wonderfully strange atmosphere to a film where everything is already off-kilter.

More Coen Brothers: the flying saucer in The Man Who Wasn't There, or the gag where the portrait of the widow's late husband changes expressions in The Ladykillers.

More David Lynch: Lost Highway, particularly the scene with the Mystery Man.
posted by usonian at 1:27 PM on February 26, 2013

I also just remembered Seraphim Falls which has a surreal scene towards the end.
posted by usonian at 9:05 AM on February 27, 2013

Have you seen this supercut of characters breaking the fourth wall? It's not exactly what you're looking for, but there's some overlap.
posted by gauche at 2:53 PM on March 7, 2013

Waaaay late to the thread, but I think what you're describing shares some features with a BLAM.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 6:29 PM on March 14, 2013

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