Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm actually working on some kind of full-length review/analysis of this film (a goal probably lost before I've even begun, but still something I've wanted to attempt my entire life), so I won't talk about how this film (once again) entranced and affected me this time around.
Instead, I'll talk about someone else.
I have a friend, Molly, who came to visit me today, and we decided to watch a couple movies. Netflix wasn't really connecting properly to my TV, so we were limited to my (decent but far from exhaustive) DVD/Blu-Ray collection. We chose two films: The World's End (review coming up after this) and a film I've been pressuring her (and everyone else I'm friends with) to see for... forever: 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Sharing favorite films is a pretty frightening experience. Before I quit on the show (and judging by the direction it took, I'm glad I did) I remember an episode of How I Met Your Mother when Ted showed Stella his favorite movie, Star Wars, and became enraged when she didn't properly react to the images on screen. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the kind of film I want everyone to see, but don't at the same time in fear of them not properly reacting to the film. Quite the conundrum. Still, the everyone-needs-to-see-this side of me always wins out in the end, and so we watched it tonight.
After being perplexed by the introduction, she was strangely excited by the Dawn of Man sequence ("Is this gonna be like Planet of the Apes?" she asked). I tried my best to keep the film as ambiguous to her as possible (curious to see what she got out of the film the first time around), but couldn't stop myself from pointing...a couple (probably a bit more than that) of things out. I can't help it. It just comes pouring out.
After Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite, and after I drew her attention to a couple of symbols (for lack of a better term) within the film (which I probably shouldn't have), she responded with "My head hurts." Overall, no one could say it better than she could: "Well this movie sure does make you think. I liked - I'm trying to remember all the stuff in it now... I liked how he [Kubrick] had...a lot of...metaphors in it. I liked the music. And that's all I have to say about that movie."
And, because I am nothing if not an egotistical bastard, I will, after all, talk a little bit about me. Despite what I like to tell myself, I was not entranced by this film right away. Visually, yes, I instantly recognized it as superb, but it took a while before I could call it my favorite movie (and even a while before I could call it my favorite Kubrick). I have, to this date, discovered no film as complex, enriching, and rewarding as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course, that could be because I haven't given many films as many attentive (I've even taken notes on this film before) re-watches as I have this one. Witnessing the film with someone who was seeing it for the first time only deepened my (already bordering on obsessive) love for this film. I still feel the same sense of infantile wonder no matter how many times I watch the film, and the movie is still so metaphorically complex that my head still hurts a little (like Molly's did) whenever I think about it. And seeing that wonder reflected in someone else only helped cement my opinion that this film is a transcendent masterpiece, an immortal treasure of cinema itself. And I have to save the rest for another time.