Avoiding cinematic offense at 30,000 feet
May 8, 2015 12:32 PM   Subscribe

What are the weirdest and/or most intense non-documentary movies that are nonetheless totally safe to watch on a crowded plane? I'm looking for movies that are uncompromising, but nonetheless have no gore, no nudity and no disturbing violence. Assume I have well-insulated earphones. (Examples: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS or THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T.)
posted by eschatfische to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Blood Tea and Red String. "Oh, they're watching one of those cute stop motion movies, like the Wallace and Grommit films," your neighbor thinks.

Your neighbor is wrong.

(on the same tip, anything by the brothers quay or jan svankmejer works; but blood tea and red string is a super underrated masterpiece)
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:36 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

How about a bizarre, campy allegorical rock musical? (Definitely crosses over the 'so bad it's wonderful line,' but if you like that sort of thing, boy are you in for a treat.)
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:57 PM on May 8, 2015

Have you considered obtaining a privacy screen for your laptop?
posted by telegraph at 1:03 PM on May 8, 2015

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker would fit this bill nicely. Plus, at 163 minutes, you won't find that many better time sinks. Be aware, though, that not every Tarkovsky film is so work-safe; Solaris for instance, has a certain amount of nudity. (Although I got permission to show it to middle schoolers in my movie club back in 10th grade, so YMMV?)
posted by fifthrider at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Here's a weird idea-- check out http://www.kids-in-mind.com/

They give a 3 digit score-- one is for sex/nudity, one is for violence and one is for profanity.

Obviously profanity doesn't matter, but sex and violence do.

You can search by rating, too: this gives all movies with a max sex and max violence of 3, but forces a 9 or a 10 for profanity: http://www.kids-in-mind.com/cgi-bin/listbyrating/search.pl?s1=0&s2=3&v1=0&v2=3&p1=9&p2=10&m=1&m=2&m=3&m=4&stpos=0

Naturally, Glengarry Glen Ross is there as a 0.1.9.
posted by gregvr at 1:10 PM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is only 43 minutes long but is as terrifying, and tragic, and disturbing as a narrative movie about Karen Carpenter's life and death starring Barbie dolls and stock footage could be. It's low budget, and fairly arty, but played completely straight. It's not a joke.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:22 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Upstream Color - A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:32 PM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

Upstream color stands out as the only movie I wish I'd never wasted any second of my life on. It also has its fair share of ... visuals.
posted by Dashy at 2:39 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I Confess and probably quite a lot of other Hitchcock films. Explicit sexuality and gore and violence were not acceptable at the time. A lot of his films stand the test of time and are very well done.

The Visit is another clean-looking old movie with content that has a lot of depth and deals in earnest with serious subjects. It's a whole lot of drama and very well done and should not look problematic to anyone peering over your shoulder.
posted by Michele in California at 2:40 PM on May 8, 2015

Assuming you're even able to find it, My Dinner With Andre is easily one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen. It basically consists of two guys having a conversation in a restaurant, but the result is nonetheless bordering on fever-dream levels of weird.
posted by aecorwin at 3:08 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Damsels in Distress
posted by unknowncommand at 3:55 PM on May 8, 2015

I had a great time watching Das Boot on Amtrak for a long long ride- nothing objectionable, but the intensity built up over the course of the trip.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:56 PM on May 8, 2015

anything by the brothers quay or jan svankmejer

Careful with Svankmajer. Plenty of nudity in Lunacy, for instance. And I can think of a lot of movies with nude scenes that I'd sooner watch on a plane than, say, Conspirators of Pleasure.

How about The Vanishing?

Carl-Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc except at the very end where she's (SPOILER!) burned at the stake for heresy.

Kinoshita's The Ballad of Narayama can be pretty hard to take.
posted by Mothlight at 5:00 PM on May 8, 2015

Rereading this thread, which is about the kind of films you want without the sex/violence constraints: Fantastic Planet?
posted by Juliet Banana at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Jesus God don't watch Upstream Color!! Period. Unless you think, "Regular people, they are actually pigs in the most literal sense" is a thoughtful reflection on humanity. I thought his other movie, Primer, was also weird but good and probably not disturbing to neighbors.

Svankmajer's Alice would work but would certainly arouse some stares from your neighbors. The original Solaris is super weird if you can stay awake through the whole thing. Man Facing Southeast is, as I recall, quite disturbing but free from too much challenging imagry, except maybe one scene where someone [spoiler?] crumbles a human brain, but it is a pickled one in a jar - like, in a medical context type of pickled brain. The Monkees Head is zany and fun and innocent, but definitely weird. Donnie Darko?
posted by latkes at 5:05 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Upstream Color sure is divisive. I found it one of the most compelling films I'd seen in years and can't wait to see what Shane Carruth does next. Anyway, I fly on a weekly basis and also try not to offend seatmates. Just watched Black Sea, a superb British nail-biting thriller that's more about characters than the usual big explosions and so on. Some violence, nothing worse than prime-time TV. I second Das Boot if Black Sea sparks a hankering for submarine thrillers. Locke is high drama but can't offend anyone; it's essentially one guy in a car.
posted by bassomatic at 7:54 AM on May 9, 2015

Boy that sure was not my impression of the thrust of Upstream Color, latkes; I thought it was great and didn't have anything like that message.

Depends on your understanding of "weird" and "intense" but Last Year at Marienbad is certainly weird. Funeral Parade of Roses is extremely weird but I can't remember offhand if there's any nudity in it.

Hmmmm let's see. I found La grande bellezza pretty intense. Seconding Svankmajer, maybe Little Otik?

Brand Upon the Brain is certainly weird, and it's SF planes; if you don't mind a plotless succession of images, Decasia is great.
posted by kenko at 3:27 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Death and the Maiden


History of Violence was surprisingly low on violence.

The Game has action and tension but little or no actual violence.
posted by K.P. at 5:07 AM on May 10, 2015

Stingray Sam
Wrist Cutters ,not like it sounds.
Rubin and Ed
Should keep em wondering.
posted by boilermonster at 11:31 PM on May 10, 2015

La Cravate is a short film by Alejandro Jodorowsky based on a Thomas Mann story made during the period when he was training as a mime under Marcel Marceau in France. It's not THAT weird, but it's the only Jodorowsky you can watch on a plane.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:57 AM on May 11, 2015

History of Violence was surprisingly low on violence.
Caveat given OP's "no nudity" spec: Wit has Emma Thompson in cancer treatment with her breasts exposed and Maria Bello is (briefly) fully frontally nude in A History of Violence.
posted by Mothlight at 8:23 AM on May 12, 2015

Seconding Moon. Moon's awesome.
posted by ostranenie at 2:47 AM on May 13, 2015

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