#185- 2001: A Space Odyssey

Quick recap: A group of scientists find a monolith buried on the moon and set off toward Jupiter in order to learn more about who might have placed it there. Oh, and there’s a crazy computer that wreaks havoc.

I feel like The Simpsons is just one long 2001 reference I feel like The Simpsons is just one long 2001 reference

Fun (?) fact: Conspiracy theorists (AKA nutjobs) claim that 2001: A Space Odyssey being released so closely to the moon landing is not a coincidence. They (the nutjobs) think that Kubrick directed the landing and used leftover props from his movie.


My thoughts: As I have come to learn with Kubrick films, they are infinitely more enjoyable on the big screen. I had the opportunity to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Drafthouse and it was every bit as awe inspiring as I expected it to be. The Drafthouse played the entire thing-from overture, to intermission, to ending credits so that we, the audience, would have the full effect of the movie. It is a classic for sure, and yet I have no idea what the hell it is all about.

In writing that, though, I am fulfilling what Kubrick wanted. He said in interviews that he never meant ambiguity but he also said that he doesn’t expect anyone to fully ‘get’ it because it is open to interpretation. As pretentious as that sounds, I like that idea. My personal belief is that the movie is about evolution and the monolith represents the next step. Maybe it was set up by aliens? I don’t know. When Dave passes through all the light and ends up in the neoclassical room, I think it’s because he has seen the inside of the monolith, evidently all of time and space. As he progresses in age and finally back to fetus, he represents the ‘birth’ of a new age for Earth, something even more exciting to come. I have no idea if I am right and I don’t really care because that’s just not the point.

A guy next to me evidently hated the whole movie and when he left, scoffed and said that Star Wars was much better, in terms of special effects. I didn’t punch him, although I don’t think anyone would have stopped me. Aside from that guy (who also called the ‘intermission’, the ‘intervention’), I think most people would agree how amazing the whole movie looked. It’s so hard to believe it was shot in the ’60s and I was most impressed by how realistic space travel was portrayed. This is a very visual movie, which sounds redundant, but it’s not. There is very little dialogue throughout the whole thing, but there is so much too look at. It’s almost too much at times and I can see why so many people devote their lives to trying and figuring out all the symbolism.

The main reason the Drafthouse showed 2001: A Space Odyssey was because it is part of their ‘soundtrack’ series, which showcases movies with great soundtracks. So it’s a no brainer to include this film. Every note was put in place perfectly and set the mood for each scene in a way no other film I have seen does. The music heard when the monolith is first seen on the moon is terrifying and for good reason. It sounded like angry bee people or something and I actually felt an uneasiness throughout the entire scene. What also impressed me was how the absence of sound or music could be as equally terrifying. When HAL cuts the oxygen cord from the astronaut and sends him hurtling into space, that scene scared me as much as any other scene in a horror movie could have done.

Final review: 5/5. Go see it if you haven’t yet, but only watch it if you have chance to see it in a theater. I don’t see how a television could do it justice.

Up next: Fantastic Planet

#183- Alphaville

Quick recap: Secret Agent Lemmy Caution has been sent to Alphaville to locate a missing spy and destroy the city’s ruler- a computer named Alpha 60.

That's some good spying going on, Caution

That’s some good spying going on, Caution

Fun (?) fact: Although it is a sci-fi film, director Jean-Luc Godard shot all scenes in real places around Paris and only used conventional firearms.

oooo, super sci-fi!

oooo, super sci-fi!

My thoughts: I had no idea what the hell was going on through most of the movie, and I’m still not sure what the ending was all about. Alphaville is one of those films pretentious people latch on to, but the general public would be bored to tears by it. There are many movies like that, including ones that I personally love, but this one just seemed to be pretentious for the sake of being pretentious. The director is French, after all, so maybe that’s why.

The plot of Alphaville is simple enough: spy comes to kill tyrannical leader who happens to be a supercomputer. A supercomputer in the 1960s, of course. If it was set in modern times, Lemmy Caution might be trying to murder Siri or something similar. The computer is all about logical thinking and holds executions for anyone who shows emotion, which is considered illogical thought. So, pretty straightforward, except that it wasn’t. There are several scenes in which Caution or the computer is talking and I had NO IDEA what they were saying. In looking up trivia for the movie later on, I found that many of the lines came from poetry, but it just sounded like beautiful nonsense in the context of the movie. I was also too caught up in the sci-fi details to really focus on the plot, like trying to figure out if Alphaville is a city or a planet and why it looks so similar to Paris.

Stripped down to its basic premise, Alphaville’s version of reality was quite interesting. Instead of a Bible, citizens use a dictionary, which changes constantly because words like ‘love’ and ‘weep’ are thrown out. People are treated like robots and are expected to behave as such, which also caused confusion for me because I thought the women were all computers. My favorite, scene, if you can call it that, was the depiction of the executions. There are a line of (mostly) men who stand on a diving board and are shot to death. They fall into the water, where a group of synchronized swimmers jump in to retrieve the body. Everyone claps politely and then the next person is brought in. This was the most ‘sci-fi’ part of the film and so messed up because everything looked so familiar. I actually like the idea of using present day locations because it seems as if the world depicted in the movie is not too far off from where we are right now.

Final review: 3/5. Alphaville is also considered noir, which is a weird pairing with the sci-fi genre, but I kind of liked it.

Up next: Gigi

#174- The Matrix

Quick recap: This is not the real world. The world you live in is just a computer program and we are all slaves.  Happy Tuesday!

Stop collaborate and listen

Stop. Collaborate and listen

Fun (?) fact: It isn’t until the very end that Keanu Reeves speaks more than five lines of dialogue in a row.


My thoughts: Picture it: The year was 2000 and my small town had just caught Matrix fever. It was one of those movies everyone could agree was awesome. Whether it was about the fight scenes, the deep philosophy, or the very obvious religious message, it was near impossible to find someone who didn’t like it. I myself was a huge fan for many years and even saw the sequels, which I would later come to regret. So, how does the movie stack up 15 years later?

In short, it doesn’t. Everything I remembered was there, but I am now looking at it as an adult, not some sheltered kid. The most obvious difference from 15 year old me is that I would absolutely take the blue pill. The scenes of the people being grown in pods were frightening, but only if you know about them. This world may be the Matrix, but it is my Matrix and it’s pretty nice. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. So this time around, I guiltily found myself identifying with Neo as he is trying to come to grasp of this terrible truth, and even more so with Cypher who wanted to remember nothing. I mean, saving the world is cool and admirable and all, but not so much if no one really wants it.

The fight scenes were still pretty cool and I was surprised by how well they have held up. This was the part I was expecting to let me down the most and it ended up being my favorite part of an otherwise (now) disappointing movie.

Finally, what surprised (and angered) me most was Trinity’s storyline. Here we have a badass chick, willing to risk her very life for the cause she believes in. Except that, really, she’s just in love. Why the hell is there a love story? Of all the cool things that could’ve happened, Trinity is reduced to a love story. It’s even her destiny to be in love with Neo. I don’t remember my thoughts at the time I first watched this, but now it seems like such a blatantly bad idea. Was the reasoning to put that in there so girls could like the movie? Or was it to cement Neo’s legacy? Either way, gross.


Final review: 3/5. I feel that it’s important to note the cultural impact this movie had, even though I didn’t get much out of it now. I caught myself saying ‘glitch in the system’ just the other day, so it has become ingrained in me to some extent.

Up next: Raging Bull

#169- The Day the Earth Stood Still

Quick recap: An alien lands his ship in the middle of Washington DC to declare that his planet is SO done with your shit, Earth. Get it together, you guys.

Klaatu is judging you and your primitive medicines. Typical Earthling, amiright?

Klaatu is judging you and your primitive medicines. Typical Earthling, amiright?

Fun (?) fact: According to IMDb, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a Christian allegory. It makes sense when you think about it: man comes to Earth preaching peace, gets wounded, resurrects, has super cool killing robot. It all fits! Even the name Klaatu adopts, Carpenter, has religious connotations. Director Robert Wise hadn’t considered any of this which makes me wonder if it is possible to do an accidental allegory. 

So, is Gort Moses? I'm a little rusty on my Bible stories but I seem to remember Moses killing everyone with his LASER stare.

So, is Gort Moses? I’m a little rusty on my Bible stories but I seem to remember Moses killing everyone with his LASER stare.

My thoughts: I’m not a fan of Sci-fi generally, but I make an exception when watching movies from the 1950s. I love how there’s a fine line between a movie becoming a classic, like this one, or fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. I see why it is such an important film and yet, it’s almost impossible for me not to imagine Tom Servo, Mike and Crooooooow sitting at the bottom of my screen, taking turns with their witty one-liners. It is both a blessing and a curse to live life like this, let me tell you.

0422Overall, I generally enjoyed the movie. The special effects were impressive and also a little bit cheesy. Gort was my favorite part of the film because his two roles were either KILLING ALL HUMANKIND or cradling Klaatu like a baby in his arms. I think we would be more likely to embrace our robot overlords if they also had a cradling function like Gort did.

As much as I enjoy a good symbolic film, I felt like parts of The Day the Earth Stood Still were a bit heavy handed. Peace for all mankind? I can dig it, but not when you go all preachy on me. Klaatu annoyed me from the very beginning, when he was shot and retorted that he was just giving us a tool to study life on other planets, but we ruined it and this is why we can’t have nice things. He then allows the military to take him to Walter Reed hospital but doesn’t really even need doctors because he has his own fancy salve. I also appreciated the irony that Klaatu refused to speak to the President of the United States about his mission because he wanted to talk to all nations at once so as not to take sides. And yet, he has landed his ship in the middle of Washington DC! We all know we are your favorite, buddy, don’t deny it.

At the end of the film, Klaatu basically says that the only thing that keeps his planet from fighting are these death robots, like Gort. It’s almost like some sort of war…..but no fighting, so it’s cold. It’s like a cold war. Get it? It’s not a bad idea, to have a self-destruct button built into your own planet, but we kind of did that with the nuclear bomb and that didn’t get us very far.

Final review: 4/5, but I’m being generous, I think. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to, but I can certainly appreciate a classic when I see one.

Up next: Blue Velvet