2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

Stanley Kubrick feels like one of those directors that I really like a lot and have a ton of respect for, but I can't really ever fall in love with. That happens a lot – I feel similarly about, say, Claire Denis or Paul Thomas Anderson even though I really like their filmographies – and with Kubrick I think it's because he's such a master at directing in a cold, distanced way, a method that I just have a really hard time resonating with.

2001: A Space Odyssey is actually the best use of this I've seen, where the intentional coldness works really well with the retro-futurism in the set design and production, a sort of laissez-faire approach to modernity that feels both chic and uncaring. The large, empty corridors populated by few people never quite feel lived-in, and the stilted dialogue and movements of those people seem blunt and emotionless. I'm sure that's the point though, as compared to our inhuman humans the on-board computer AI feels so much more alive.

That HAL arc is definitely my favorite, as it never feels explained and lingers eerily on the mind even during the transcendental Jupiter voyage. For me this AI raised the most amount of questions concerning humanity and our place in the universe: HAL's disobedience feels uncanny and ominous, and considering he expresses more outward humanity than our actual humans it makes me wonder if that's not a more natural step in our evolution than what we see in the finale.

"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."

Regardless, 2001 is clearly an impressive film that's bold and innovative, and though I have the feeling Kubrick just isn't my style I nonetheless have a great deal of respect for his oeuvre.

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