The Top Ten Non-Chronological Films

While most filmmakers stick with traditional narratives, a few have experimented with accelerating their stories by going in reverse. In honor of national Backwards Day, DMG Entertainment highlights the top ten movies that break the rules of linear storytelling. Between memories, testimonies and imagination, these films intended to confuse yet intrigue the audience. So get ready to pay close attention, here comes a thought-provoking ten:

MEMENTO (2000)

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Director Christopher Nolan

Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior

Summary In this post-noir cult classic, ex-insurance investigator Leonard (Guy Pearce) attempts to find his wife’s murderer. However Leonard struggles with anterograde amnesia, a medical condition that causes short-term memory loss. In order to cope with this condition, Leonard has developed a complicated system that gives himself clues to find his wife’s murderer.

Best Quote Leonard Shelby: Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.

Fun Fact Christopher Nolan was not pleased with Joe Pantoliano’s delivery of the line “You don’t have a clue, you freak!”, so Nolan decided he would deliver and re-record the line himself. Pantoliano was unaware of the Nolan’s dubbing for nearly a year.

 

CLOUD ATLAS (2012)

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Directors Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski Brothers

Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Xun Zhou, Doona Bae

Summary In this complicated yet beautiful film, reincarnated souls travel through time and impact each other’s lives. Each story focuses on a set of characters which challenge the status quo of its time, not only changing the course of history, but also crafting the future for each soul.

Best Quote Isaac Sachs: Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the Theory of Relativity and Principles of Uncertainty: phenomenon that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday I believed that I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment. At each point of intersection, each encounter suggests a new potential direction.

Fun Fact The Wachowski Brother directed CLOUD ATLAS’S 1849, 2144, and 2321 time periods. Tom Tykwer directed the film’s 1936, 1973 and 2012 time periods.

 

PULP FICTION (1994)

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Director Quentin Tarantino

Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis

Summary In his quintessential crime/drama film, Tarantino offers a series of disconnected short stories that intertwine the lives of two hitmen, a crime boss’s wife, a professional boxer, and two small time robbers.

Best Quote Jules: There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.” Now… I been sayin’ that s**t for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You’d be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a mother**ker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some s**t this mornin’ made me think twice. See, now I’m thinking: maybe it means you’re the evil man. And I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here… he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. And I’d like that. But that s**t ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.

Fun Fact Remember when Vincent complained about someone keying his car? According to Tarantino, Butch was the culprit.

 

THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)

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Director Bryan Singer

Starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Bryne, Chazz Palminteri, Benicio Del Toro

Summary After the police discover dozens of dead bodies nearby a cargo ship explosion, U.S Customs Agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) interviews one of the only surviving witness, a handicapped con artist named Verbal Kent (Kevin Spacey). Kent discusses a series of robberies and Hungarian mob encounters which ultimately lead to the cargo ship incident. However, the question remains: Can con man Kent be trusted?

Best Quotes Kent: Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

Fun Fact Kevin Spacey glued his fingers together to make Verbal Kent’s disability look more realistic. Spacey also filed down his shoes to emphasize the character’s limp.

 

CITIZEN KANE (1941)

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Director Orson Welles

Starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Anges Moorehead

Summary Just before the multimillion newspaper tycoon Charles Kane (Orson Wells) dies, he whispers the word: Rosebud. In an attempt to understand Kane’s last word, a reporter digs into Kane’s past and interviews the people who knew the media mogul. Using collective testimony, the reporter pieces together Kane’s life, legacy and fall from grace.

Best Quote Kane: You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in… 60 years.

Fun Fact Although CITZEN KANE is arguably one of greatest films of all time, the movie performed poorly in the box office. To add insult to injury, critics booed the film each time it received a nomination at the 1941 Academy Awards.

 

RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)

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Director Quentin Tarantino

Starring Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen

Summary After a gang of thieves turn a simple diamond heist into a bloodbath, the surviving robbers meet at a warehouse and realize one of their own is an undercover police officer. As the remaining criminals deal with an injured robber and an angry boss, they also must find the informant before the police find them.

Best Quote Mr. Blonde: Are you gonna bark all day little doggie… or are you gonna bite?

Fun Fact RESERVOIR DOGS’ Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) is the brother of PULP FICTION’s Vincent Vega (John Travolta).

 

RASHOMON (1950)

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Director Akira Kurosawa

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura

Summary Set in 12th century Japan, a priest and a woodsmith tell a commoner of their experience at the murder trial of a slain samurai. The two men describe each witness’ testimony, however none of the testimony is consistent. Does anyone know exactly how the samurai died?

Best Quote Priest: I don’t want to hear it. No more horror stories. Commoner: They are common stories these days. I even heard that the demon living here in Rashômon fled in fear of the ferocity of man.

Fun Fact Many believe RASHOMON is why the Academy Awards created the “Best Foreign Film” category.

 

ANNIE HALL (1977)

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Director Woody Allen

Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Christopher Walken

Summary In this poignant film, neurotic comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) recaptures the ups and downs of his relationship with Midwestern aspiring singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). As this film jumps from various points of Singers’ life, relationship and imagination, Woody Allen demonstrates his personal feelings of love’s fleeting nature.

Quotes? Alvy Singer: I thought of that old joke, y’know, the, this… this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y’know, they’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and… but, uh, I guess we keep goin’ through it because, uh, most of us… need the eggs.

Fun Fact ANNIE HALL had many working titles, such as ANHEDONIA, IT HAD TO BE JEW, A ROLLERCOASTER NAMED DESIRE, and ME AND MY GOY.

 

IRREVERSIBLE (2002)

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Director Gaspar Noe

Starring Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia

Summary After Alex (Monica Bellucci) was brutally attacked in an underpass, her boyfriend Marcus (Vincet Cassel) and ex-boyfriend Pierre (Albert Dupontel) search the French underworld to find who was responsible for the heinous crime. IRREVERSIBLE contains thirteen scenes presented in reverse chronological order.

Quotes? Philippe: Time destroys everything.

Fun Fact Between the film’s infamous rape scene and the 28 Hz background noise (which can cause nausea and vertigo), Newsweek crowned IRREVERSIBLE as the most walked-out-of movies of the year.

 

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)

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Director Michel Gondry

Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst

Summary After Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) discovers his ex-girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) underwent a memory erasing procedure to forget about their relationship, Barish decides to undergo the same surgery. As the procedure progressively removes Clementine from Barish’s memory, Barish is able to relive their relationship and falls in love with her again.

Best Quote Joel: Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants? Are we the dining dead? I can’t stand the idea of us being a couple people think that about.

Fun Fact Due to a translation error, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND disappointed Italian audiences. The Italian translated title (SE MI LASCI TI CANCELLO) implied the film was a comedy, even though the film has some funny lines, it is an emotional rollercoaster not a comedy.

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