NOTE: For those of you who don’t know, this blog was started as an assignment for one of my journalism courses. The semester is winding to a close and this is my last required post. However, I have really enjoyed watching great movies and writing about them here so I am going to do my darndest to keep this going through the summer. I appreciate all of you who have read and interacted with this blog for the past few months. I’d love for you to stick around as I keep making my way through the greatest movies of all time.
How often are you completely, fully and totally focused on one and only one thing? How often do you put all of your energy and capabilities into one pursuit? I would tend to guess that the number is relatively low. I know it is for me. I am a chronic multitasker. If I’m on my computer, I’ve usually got at least a few tabs open that I’m bopping between. If I’m on my computer, there’s a good chance that I’m also watching TV. It wouldn’t be unheard of for me to be doing multiple things on my computer, watching TV and engaging in conversation with other people in the room. And someone is probably playing music too.
And don’t even get me started on smart phones (there are many times in my life when I sound like a middle-aged grump and this is one of them for sure). I love smart phones. They make my life so much easier it’s ridiculous (I would be eternally driving around without Google Maps). But as much as I love them, they are slowly killing our souls. It’s turning us into mindless dweebs who possess the attention span of an earthworm and lack the mental capacity to focus on one thing at one time. The fact that so many of my peers find it necessary and, even worse, acceptable to constantly have their phone out and be using it while engaged in any activity, including a one-on-one conversation, is horrifying. I am certainly part of this problem, but I try my best not to be. I try to keep my phone away if I’m interacting with people face-to-face. I try to avoid the incessant urge to pull my phone out during any and every dull moment. I try to focus on the beauty of nature or let my mind wander for a bit when I can.
Now that I’ve effectively thrown my entire generation under the bus, what reason is there to have this luddite rant in a blog about classic movies? I’ve included this because, at the suggestion of my friend (and far superior movie mind) Matt, I jettisoned Lawrence of Arabia and instead watched 2001: A Space Odyssey this week. And this is not a multitasking movie. No sirree, Bob. This is a singular experience that requires all of your attention for the duration. Here’s what I thought.
22. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Big names: Stanley Kubrick (director), Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter and Douglas Rain (voice)
One sentence summary: The evolution of man.
Scene that sticks out: A primitive humanoid (Richter) uses a bone to smash a skeleton into a million pieces to the accompaniment of a gorgeous score. That, or Keir Dullea’s race through a trippy technicolor corridor of space.
Thoughts: There’s a reason I titled this post, “Wow.” Because that’s really the only word that came to mind after I watched it. It was so cool. This movie is epic in every sense of the word. As I mentioned in the intro, this film requires complete attention. The film’s minimalistic dialogue and brilliant visuals (that are so bleeping good that you can be excused for forgetting that the film was made when gas was a whopping 34 cents per gallon) make it imperative to keep your eyes on the screen at all times. And the fantastic score makes it pretty important to keep your ears focused too. But what’s most important is to keep your mind focused on the film. This movie raises a lot more questions than it answers. Kubrick presents you with thought-provoking visuals and denies you the satisfaction of a traditional narrative that explains what you’re seeing. So you’re left to try and work through the film on your own, deciding for yourself what it all means. This is filmmaking at it’s best and Kubrick absolutely nailed it with 2001.
Ranking (out of 10): – This film was incredible. Only its significant length might keep me from watching it again. But probably not.
Have you been here before?
This is the second Stanley Kubrick film I’ve watched in the past month which got me thinking about directors who appear more than once on the AFI list. Turns out, directing one of the best 100 films of all time isn’t that easy. Thankfully, there are a few folks who have figured out this whole “directing a classic” thing pretty well. Here are some of the best directors of American cinema (and interestingly, two of them have pretty strong connections to Great Britain).
NEXT WEEK: We go for the Kubrick hat trick with A Clockwork Orange.