Actor Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange

Cult Classic Films Perfect For Your Low Boredom Threshold [Opinion]

I am a very, very distractible person. It takes me four days to read one relatively short, decade-old interview with the former guitarist of a Britpop band, not for reasons of illiteracy or disinterest, but because of the mandatory three-and-a-half days I must spend on a wild goose chase through the weird Wikipedia wormhole of related background information that it will inevitably open up. Don’t get me wrong, I like Blur, but I like productivity too. The subject matter really isn’t what does it.

My compulsion to do this confuses me just as much as it does the normal, organized poor souls who have to witness this phenomenon from the outside. It just is what it is. Adaptation is more achievable than control. A lot of people are this way, after all, and while I can’t speak for all of us, I personally find that there is sometimes an upside.

For example, there is no way I’d be this good at yelling answers at the TV during Jeopardy! if it weren’t for being that much of a rampant geek. Granted, I may be a teenage girl with no practical application for this now, but who knows what that will do for my social capital at the retirement home in roughly 60 years.

Being this way also means I’ve spent a lot of time on Netflix looking for weird, ironic, colorful, disturbing, funny movies in hopes of engaging my kindergartner-like attention span. True to my Baby Einstein VHS tape-inspired instincts, I’ll admit that the shiny lights and bright patterns and loud noises generally do well to attract my interest in the first place, but a plot line that is just as surreal and engaging keeps the dopamine flowing even longer.

Actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers as glam rock musician Brian Slade in Velvet Goldmine
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Brian Slade in Velvet Goldmine. [Image by Todd Haynes/Killer Films]

Velvet Goldmine

A fantastically unsubtle hyperbolic glam rock film — which is definitely not about David Bowie even though it totally is, please have mercy David’s lawyer — starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers (you know him as Elvis Presley in Elvis and the token mysterious indie guy kind of spoofing a Gallagher brother in August Rush), Ewan McGregor, and Christian Bale. It’s super elaborately glittery, super unapologetically gay-centric, and has a fantastic soundtrack, which at least to me (a pink-haired teenage girl who gets dressed up like Elton John just to go to Walgreens) is admittedly an almost guaranteed film win.

A Clockwork Orange

Picture a sociopathic but charming teenage boy within a wholesome British suburb within Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory within a post-apocalyptic dystopia where love is physically unachievable and violence is synonymous with whimsy. This is A Clockwork Orange. This twisted, ironically-pastel Russian nesting doll of circus nightmares is only debatably even psychologically digestible, but it is by no means algorithmic or dull. Seeing A Clockwork Orange might even classically condition you to fear ever allowing yourself the experience of boredom ever again.

This Is Spinal Tap

To be fair, This Is Spinal Tap isn’t actually really that weird, depending on how you would define weird. It’s just really hilarious, really detail-consistent, and completely in a league of its own. Rob Reiner’s masterpiece of a mockumentary follows the stunning self-obliviousness of a British heavy metal band whose career apex has long passed. It isn’t complex in subject matter, nor does it set out to say anything profound about society as a whole, but it is a boredom-curing work of art (albeit a very unpretentious one) just the same.

Boogie Nights

If you’ve ever questioned what provoked the domino effect that led to Mark Wahlberg being taken seriously as an actor, Boogie Nights is your answer. Another undeniably colorful edition to the list, the vaguely Hugh Hefner-spoofing epic perfectly combines elements of deeply impactful dramatic tension, over-the-top comedy, and an overall style of juicy ’70s caricature. All other factors aside, it’s always worth it to watch Boogie Nights if only to see Don Cheadle transition from a cowboy western style fanatic to a quasi-Rick James impersonator.

Actress Heather Graham as adult film star Brandy "Rollergirl" in Boogie Nights
Heather Graham as Brandy “Rollergirl” in Boogie Nights. [Image by Paul Thomas Anderson/Lawrence Gordon Productions]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I know most people are very likely already familiar with this one, but I had to include it just to be safe. If the Velvet Goldmine description sounded generally appealing but maybe not quite nerdy, tongue-in-cheek, and/or surreally gothic enough, Rocky Horror is the cult classic for you.

…and some honorable mentions

Of course, the list doesn’t end here. Less flashy, more psychological boredom cures include Mr. Nobody, Looper, and Memento. Bizarre social commentaries like But I’m A Cheerleader and Fight Club are reliable bets as well, though arguably on very different ends of the gender perspective spectrum. If what you want is a documentary about political rivals fighting with Monty Python-esque linguistic acidity, Best Of Enemies is at your very specific service. We live in an amazing time (interpret as you will). There really is something for every weird, boredom-infected, highly-distractible Netflix hermit out there.

[Featured Image by Stanley Kubrick/Hawk Films]

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