10 Best Head-Scratching Stories, Explained

2001: A Space Odyssey
Monoliths instigate evolutionary leaps forward—monkey to human, computer to AI, human to hippie-dippy starchild.

The Wall
Pink’s father dies. His teachers abuse him. His mom smothers him. His wife leaves him. He’s paranoid and isolated. Fame is no respite.

Ulysses
Two drunkards meander around Dublin like Odysseus in the Aegean. Bloom’s wife is cheating on him. Everyone poops.

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth
Jimmy relives his granddad’s life. He finally meets his father, who then dies. Superman can’t save him.

Blade Runner
Deckard is a replicant but doesn’t know it. Gaff knows but doesn’t retire Deckard. Even fake memories make us human.

Ziggy Stardust
Earth will be destroyed in five years. Ziggy is a Martian rock star who sings the news. He prophesizes the coming of a starman. Starman bad.

Mulholland Drive
The first two-thirds are a masturbatory fantasy after Diane orders a hit on Camilla (the characters from the last one-third) and shoots herself.

Infinite Jest
Terrorists are chasing the world’s most entertaining movie. Addiction—to drugs, entertainment, tennis, whatever—is a bitch.

Like a Prayer
White dudes attack woman. Black man jailed. Witness Madonna prays to black Jesus and dreams he lives. She snitches. Prisoner freed.

Donnie Darko
Parallel universe opens. Its pending collapse threatens our own. Donnie sacrifices himself to save us.