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Messin' With Your Head 

On the eve of Inception, we honor the all-time best WTF moments

Christopher Nolan has already directed one of the all-time greatest movie mindfucks, 2000's Memento. Prepare for more WTFs? on Friday when his latest film, Inception, opens. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a corporate-sponsored thief who enters people's dreams to steal valuable info from their subconscious. Not only can he pry around inside their minds, he and his team (which includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page) can plant ideas there. Messed up, huh? We're betting Inception will screw with your brain just like these five classics do. (Warning: There will be spoilers.)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry's movie is a love story — the best love story of the millennium, in fact. But it's also a total mindfuck (thank co-writer Charlie Kaufman). After Jim Carrey's relationship with Kate Winslet sours, he has his mind wiped clean of their time together. Then it gets weird.

WTF? One of the men hired by Carrey to erase his mind becomes obsessed with Winslet and starts showing up in Carrey's subconscious. Freaky.

Fight Club

David Fincher's incendiary version of Chuck Palahniuk's macho novel gets more perplexing the deeper it goes. Meek Edward Norton hooks up with badass Brad Pitt, and they start a club where emasculated guys beat the crap out of each other. But Pitt has more revolutionary plans in mind, as he recruits fellow grapplers for a pre-9/11 terrorist plot to blow shit up.

WTF? Norton and Pitt are the same guy! And in the final scene, Norton puts a gun to his own head to kill Pitt. Wow.

The Matrix

Keanu Reeves is recruited by freedom fighters to save the world from the machines that have imprisoned humans in an artificial reality. Reeves and pals hack into the computers so they can fight them on their own turf. Or something like that. I'm still not sure.

WTF? With a rain of bullets coming down on him, Reeves dodges them with slow-mo acrobatics that will forever blow your mind. Whoa.

Memento

Nolan's first mindbender unspools in reverse, as Guy Pearce — whose long-term memory is kaput thanks to a blow on the head — hunts for the man who killed his wife. He tattoos clues all over his body to keep track of what he's learned. By the end, he looks like that guy from Blink-182.

WTF? Also by the end, the black-and-white scenes (the chronological stuff) and the color scenes (the backward stuff) line up. Whew.

The Sixth Sense

This is writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's blessing and curse, thanks to a terrific twist ending. A little boy keeps seeing dead people, so psychologist Bruce Willis is called in to help straighten out the kid's troubled mind. The closer he gets, the more he thinks that maybe the boy isn't so screwed-up after all. And then it all hits you.

WTF? One of the all-time greatest mindfucks. Turns out that Willis is dead! Watch it again — it all holds up. Creepy.

Send feedback to mgallucci@clevescene.com.

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