Be warned, this article does contain some spoilers. If you don’t wish to have anything spoiled, you may briefly scroll through the article and write down the movie names, however we do think it’s important to understand what content these movies contain before viewing them while under the influence. Now onto Aunty’s top 10 movies to watch on the way down.
After the peak has passed and we begin to become bored with the music, we’ll switch over to watching movies. We don’t generally watch movies on the come-up or at peak, as we feel this interferes with our ability to connect with each other and the universe at large. However we are not about to gate-keep your time on acid, so you may watch these movies at whatever point in your trip you feel comfortable.
Uncle Cid prefers funny, happy, feel-good movies to watch after a trip. Aunty Lucy, on the other hand, prefers more mind-bending, though-provoking, and often depressing movies to watch. We think this may be a way of balancing out the feelings of bliss and ecstasy from earlier in the trip, to get the full range of human emotion possible through the day. Or perhaps there is a sense of catharsis in making yourself cry after a really good day. Whatever the reason, Aunty’s list might bring out some deeper feelings you may not want to face on a trip, so perhaps try Uncle Cid’s list if you’re looking for laughs and smiles.
#10 Stay (2005)
Though this movie is often dull in color, featuring grey urban landscapes, dark nights, rain and hail, there’s so much beauty to be found in it. From the amazing architecture of the stairways and hallways, to the grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge, this movie tells you to pay attention to your surroundings and find the beauty in it. If you’ve ever struggled with depression, a lot of people tell you a lot of pithy things, like “exercise more”, or “just snap out of it”. But Lila’s quote, “There’s too much beauty to quit”, actually rings true to us as a real reason to keep existing in this world (and just try to stop existing, it’s not easy!)
It’s a bit heavy for the come-down, and you may find yourself crying by the end as reality begins to fall apart, and the characters are faced with a tough choice. But there’s so much beauty in these final scenes, you may find yourself coming out of this experience even more grateful for every bridge you cross, every storm you’re caught in, and every moment you have with those you love.
#9 Vanilla Sky
Yes, we know it’s a remake of “Abre Los Ojos”/”Open Your Eyes”, and is not as good as the original. However, still under some influence of LSD, you may find it difficult to read subtitles and follow the movie, or even read at all. So for the purposes of this list, “Vanilla Sky” will have to do. Luckily, both versions star Penélope Cruz as Sofia, which makes both versions worthy of a watch.
This movie, like “Stay”, feature a reality which gradually unravels as the protagonist struggles with what is real. Frankly, we find reality to be overrated, and the question does not matter in the end. Is a movie not “real” because it is fiction? But two people can watch it, and share the same experience of watching it, and be changed by it. So whether life is just a dream, or we are all dead and already in the afterlife, one truth remains – our choices still matter, and affect our universal soul.
Again, this movie gets dark at times. The protagonist David goes through a lot, turns into a really nasty person at points, and Cameron Diaz plays a frighteningly good psycho named Julie. But lovely Sofia keeps the world afloat, and her big doe eyes showing us love and pity along the way.
#8 Dead Man
This movie is the only black and white movie on the list, though it is beautiful in its own way. Generally we prefer bright colors, such as the many movies in Uncle Cid’s list, but Jim Jarmusch has made a most elegant film in “Dead Man”. The composition, contrast, subjects and dialogue are all superbly rendered with a musician’s touch.
“Dead Man” is another bleak film that may make you cry. A man named William Blake has traveled all the way out west from Cleveland with the hope of a new job, and finds himself unemployed, without a name or identity to truly call his own, and dying from a bullet wound. Nothing about this is good for him. Yet along the way, his new friend Nobody teaches William to find peace with his coming journey, and they also use this opportunity to shoot a lot of people along the way.
It’s a bizarre film – the simple plot of a man being hunted across the old west, stitched together with the beautifully timeless poetry of (the really real) William Blake, and one of the best electric guitar soundtracks of all time by the one and only Neil Young. But the wonderful mix of philosophy and music are two things which you may appreciate more after a nice trip.
#7 Mr. nobody
This movie is a mindfuck. We have watched it many times, both sober, and under the influence of various substances. We come up with theories along the way (it’s alternate universes, it’s the kid in the coma making up worlds, it’s the child at the train station who imagines all the possibilities), but in the end, we’re not quite sure which is true or real. And it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to know what’s true or real to enjoy this film. There are lessons from each “life” to learn from.
This movie, at times, is bright and colorful. The three lives he shares with the three different women are each represented by different primary colors, which helps distinguish what “universe” he’s in. The child, the old man, and the plaid universe are clearly something different and separate, making them both more real and less real than the rest of the stories.
There are some dark moments, such as the many times Nemo dies in the movie, the mental and physical breakdown of his father, and Sarah Polley’s frighteningly realistic portrayal of someone suffering from mental illness. You may also find this incredibly confusing to watch while on any amount of drugs, but don’t worry: it’s also confusing when you’re sober.
There is a somewhat uplifting ending, many points of happiness in between, and enough beauty to make it worthwhile for you (we hope). There’s also a lovely lesson of how our decisions matter, and you should make them carefully, while at the same time not regretting the decisions you’ve made because you can’t go back and change the past. You can only really control what comes next.
#6 The Fountain
This movie does get very sad. Sometimes Aunty wants to cry, and this one usually does it for her. But it’s also quite beautiful, with an important lesson.
On its surface, it seems like a tale across 3 timelines: a conquistador looking for the fountain of youth (or tree of life, in this case), a present-day researcher looking for a cure for his wife who’s dying of brain cancer, and a far-flung future where he transports his tree/wife to Xibalba so they can experience rebirth together. But at it’s core, it’s really about how one man processes grief, and how his specifically manifests through guilt and regret. He spends his time piecing together the past to see if he could have saved her. He spent his present desperately searching for a cure. And he dreams of a future where he can somehow save her in another way. But he never lived in the moment, and was never fully there for Izzy when she needed him.
We often get caught up thinking about either the past and future, and as a result, our day-to-day lives slip by without us even noticing. Take a moment, even right now, to be mindful of the world around you. I hope you’re having a good day, and aren’t in any pain, and can find a moment of peace and comfort. If you really want to take this lesson to heart, go hug a loved one, tell them you love them, or send a nice message to someone you know. Our time in these bodies are short, and rather than dream about what could have been or what might be, we need to make the most of the moments we have with those we love.
#5 The fall (2006)
“The Fall” is one of the most beautiful films on my list. It’s got bright colors, elaborate costumes, breathtaking scenery, and exotic set design. It’s a guy in a hospital telling stories to a small child in the style of One Thousand and One Nights, so it’s going to be whimsical and cute, right? Nope, it’s terribly depressing, especially near the end.
There’s no major spoilers here. From the very beginning you will understand that Roy, a stuntman who has been paralyzed, tells these stories to Alexandria so she will bring him enough medicine to kill himself. It’s a relatively easy story to follow, even while under the influence, it’s just a matter of how dark you are willing to go.
Towards the end of the movie, there is an extremely dark scene involving stop-motion animation, followed by a deeply emotional scene soon afterwards. This brings us to tears every time. Again, if you want more happy movies, go to Uncle Cid’s list. But this movie is gorgeous, and whether or not you’re willing to watch it anywhere near a trip, do check it out sometime in your life.
#4 Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
Uncle Cid already gave this movie a nice write-up. The reason this movie is on my list, and not his, is because it’s a tad difficult to follow, even on the come-down. We would recommend watching it fully sober at least once first, so you have a base of understanding to work from. And you may need a couple more watches before you understand most of it.
Some people come away from an acid trip feeling more nihilistic than usual. You may feel as if now you’ve seen god, or been god, all this human society, planet and universe can just die in a fire already. On the first watch of this film, Aunty wanted Joy/Jobu Tupaki to win. Let that bagel destroy the entire universe. We’ve been existing for over 13 billion years, give us a break.
Evelyn’s willingness to follow Joy into the void was a powerful reminder, that our wish for sweet oblivion cannot come without the grief of knowing everything you love will also be destroyed. Not only was Evelyn all the Evelyns, Evelyn was also all the Joys, and Joy was also all the Evelyns. We can never really leave this universe, we can only make it better or worse through our actions in the short time we have with each of our bodies.
The film can be depressing, confusing, and violent. But the end message is uplifting enough to put this film high on our list. We are everything, everywhere, all at once, and the only tool you should be using to face your problems is kindness.
#3 Synecdoche, New York
Uncle Cid also included this movie in part of his write-up of The Rehearsal. Maybe it deserves its own review as well. This article will not go into the ins and outs of each scene, rather the purpose is to explain why it’s in our list.
Like the previous film, it’s a bit complicated to watch while under the influence. You may find it difficult to understand, even while sober. It’s also quite depressing throughout, from beginning to end, with very few comedic or pleasant parts to offset the sheer weight of horrible things that happen to Caden.
So why choose to watch this on the come-down? Are we just punishing ourselves?
This movie shines a light on one of our biggest faults: to be constantly looking forward, for our next perfect creation, or to be looking backward, with regret and remorse. Like Caden, we often lack the mindfulness to be fully in the present, and to enjoy the things we have, and the people we have in our lives. It’s presented in almost a comical way: Caden’s mother and father die, but since they were never featured in the movie, how are we supposed to know to grieve for them? Like Caden, they were not on our minds until they were suddenly gone. So the lesson is mindfulness, and appreciation for what you have in this moment.
There’s also a deeper meaning for Aunty, as she is a writer and artist. So much of a creative’s life is striving to create your magnum opus, that one perfect work you will be remembered by. Have we already made it? Will we ever complete it? These worries might be different for other careers, and affect everyone in different ways. Few people die with everything completed in life that they wanted to have accomplished. There will always be unfinished business, with both career and family. That’s okay. We will die knowing that life will go on without these bodies, and hopefully we didn’t miss too much along the way.
#2 it’s such a beautiful day
Aunty already did a full review of the film here. So in this section, we will only explain why this is a good movie to watch on the come-down.
First off, the “film” is actually a series of shorts stitched together, with a larger narrative coming through later on. As such, the movie is easily digestible under the influence of drugs. The opening anecdotes are quite amusing, and may have you giggling. The short sections, usually being just a minute or two long, won’t strain your attention span. And Don’s use of sound effects and extra visual affects besides the typical stick-figure drawings are pretty cool.
The ending is really only disturbing if you think about it. The true horror of Bill’s situation may not fully register as you’re watching. So as far as films on this list goes, it’s one of the least depressing. Coupled with the short runtime and attention-span friendly scenes, it’s a solid choice for a come-down film.
#1 Waking life
Like “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”, this film is more of an anthology of shorts than a full feature narrative, so it’s a bit easier to follow with a brain under the influence. But unlike the previous film, this one is in several strange and beautiful animation styles, which gives it an extra trippy feeling, and helps set the mood for some far out thoughts.
There are a couple of segments that are strange, and a bit disturbing. We’re not entirely sure what the red man ranting and raving in prison is meant to represent, but it goes pretty dark. There’s also a section of Alex Jones ranting and raving in a car that always seemed annoying, but even more so now. Even with these flaws, this film still takes the top spot in our list, and is definitely worth watching.
We wanted to cap this list out at 10, and these were the ones that didn’t make the list for various reasons. Some might be too scary. Some might be a bit hard to follow while under the influence. And some are very, very depressing. But if you want to watch a movie that’s Aunty Lucy and Uncle Cid approved, maybe check these out some other time when you’re in a different mindset. In no particular order:
- Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- Under The Skin
- About Time
- Yes Man
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- Groundhog Day
- The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Moulin Rouge
- Donnie Darko
- Southland Tales
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
- The Zero Theorem
- Sorry to Bother You
- The Wave
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
- Four Rooms
- The Secret of Kells
- Song of the Sea