So, to start off, I thought I'd go with a tough one. 2001: A Space Odyssey, positive or negative, is a film the earns a reaction. Most people have heard of it, many have seen it (though perhaps not all of it), thousands of other films, television shows, songs, paintings, etc. reference it; and yet, very few people understand it -- perhaps with good reason.
You've got to think during this one. About five years in the making, the film is by far one of the most carefully designed and intelligent pieces of media in our history. Under the tight control of auteur director, Stanley Kubrick, and with powerful scientific and theoretical insights from author, Arthur C. Clarke, the film explores a scope of millions of years including the origins of mankind, our future as a species, and the order behind the chaos of the universe. Each careful element carries part of the meaning, and nothing can be ignored -- from the tiniest sound effect to the largest and most complicated visual effect (even down to the reflections on a window or visor). The film's doggedly (and sometimes outright boringly) realistic portrayal of space travel lends weight to its themes, the stilted and flatly realistic performances turn the characters into types and symbols of banal human reality, and the stunning quality of the special effects (many designed by Kubrick himself and created without the aid of CGI) makes the entire film seem not just possible, but plausible.
Drawing heavily on the theories of Charles Darwin and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche (with a healthy dose of theoretical mathematics and subtle religious symbolism mixed in) the film's suggestions about humanity's potential are staggeringly epic and stunningly original. Intelligent, thoughtful people should not miss this film. In fact, it isn't just a "must see," it's a "must see more than once and ponder." Or, like John Lennon, you could simply see it every week as a convenient way to enhance your illicit narcotics. Sigh.
SAXTON'S FILM PICKS
People are always asking me what my favorite movies are, so I thought I'd make a list with reviews. I'll try to add a new pick every so often until my huge list of favorites is complete.
If you've seen one (or more) of the films, please add your own (appropriate) comments and reviews.