Friday, June 5, 2009

Comprehensive Geek Guide to Movies

Yesterday, over dinner, I told BigGeek I was mighty impressed with Mahendra over at An unquiet mind with his A-Z film meme. I had been toying with the idea of doing something like it, but given the fact that my memory has a strong functional resemblance to a large sieve, I would do the meme only to find movie ‘X’ was not my favorite movie at all because I would remember 2 weeks later that I had seen Movie ‘Y’ too and had liked it better. The scope of the meme had to be shortened to benefit my limited forte. And thus an idea was born to compile a guide to movies that would appeal to geeks. Because what am I if not a geek?

As soon as I told this to BigGeek, he out-geeked me. After nodding vigorously at my first three suggestions while sipping his merlot delicately, he said, “Define movies that appeal to geeks”.

“Hmmmmmm.”. I said. “Let me try. Movies that appeal to left-brain. Movies that have some absurdity to them. Science and math references. Movies that awe you with the magic and scope of science and technology. Movies that let make you go, ‘Hmmm’, but in a logical, rational way. Movies that redefine true science and provide some (even if slightly absurd) vision of where technology can go. Movies that give us a different perspective of scientific theories. Clever movies that have plots like the Mobius strip. Movie equivalent of Escher’s sketches. All geeks are fascinated with the nature of alien intelligence, how the universe works, Schrodinger’s cat, free will and the paradox of time-travel. So movies that deal with those. ”

So after debating and hemming-and-hawing for about 30 mins, we drew up with this list. The movies that made it had all or most of the above mentioned attributes. The also-rans, were, well, also-rans because they lacked some of the above mentioned aspect to make it to geekdom. The movies that were disqualified (and no, we don’t list every movie in the world that was not on first two lists) are some choices most people would think appeal to geeks, but they don’t. Well they don’t appeal to me and I am a geek. I have also left out comic-book geek movies for reasons I don’t quite understand myself. So there, unleash you inner geek and let me know if we missed some. Movies are sorted alpha-numerically and the list will be divided over a few posts.

The Comprehensive Geek Guide to Movies (transferred epithet not intended)

12 monkeys (1995)
IMDB Rating 8.1/10

Directed by Terry Gilliam (of yes, Monty Python fame), this movie has time travel. Not one, but several. As Cole (Bruce Willis) searches for clues to find the virus that has devastated the Earth in future (2035), coercing people to live underground, he travels not just in place but in time as well. The plot line is pretty interesting because it raises questions of whether it is possible to change the past and alter the future and it questions the existence of free will, given the movie’s end. The movie is an action-packed thriller for a perfect Friday night with loads of nerd undercurrents. Bruce Willis is the icing on top.

2001: A Space Odessey (1968)
IMDB Rating 8.4/10

I was frankly surprised that it rated only 8.4 on IMDB. This movie is ultimate geek paradise. Supercomputers, evolution, contact with alien intelligence that is more than just humans + bad makeup. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it brings Arthur C. Clarke’s vision of future to life. I really like how Clarke (and Kubrick) present the future. Some basic values like human contact and need for family remain unchanged, but are seen in the light of a new technology and a new world. To me, the movie is a tribute to what science has achieved and can achieve. True scientific innovation is full of one step forward and two steps back from which we learn and HAL represents that. I think, despite HAL, it presents a positive view of technology and what the human mind is capable of achieving. This movie leaves a lot unsaid, which is very “Kubrick”. It gives us pieces and allows us to make our own conjectures, which is always fun.

2010 (1984)
IMDB Rating 6.6/10
I definitely would rate it higher than that. I think most people who loved 2001 hate 2010. 2010 is more cut-and-dry. Directed by Peter Hyams, it is more direct and in-your-face. But it’s still a great movie. Evolution of our minds and of science continues and the sequel explains a lot of points that were left unsaid in 2001. What happened to Dave? Was HAL fixed? What happened to the monolith? Is it good science fiction? Yes, no doubt. Definitely better than standard issue Hollywood Sci-Fi like Independence Day and suchlike.

Edited to add: To be continued. Next week geek movies starting with 'A' and 'B'.


Munchkin said...

You missed the quintessential one- The Matrix

DotThoughts said...

munchkin: as big geek would say, patience, grasshopper :)
We haven't reached M yet. heck, we haven't reached 'A' yet :D

Meluhhan said...

I LIKE this! I'm in the nerdiest of professions and yet nobody's bothered organizing sci-fi movie nights. It's a great idea, and I'm stealing your recommendations. :)

I have high hopes for S. S is going to beat the socks off all the other alphabets. Now I'm all curious!

How about a series on great books too? A series on the Foundation series? OK, I'll stop here before you ban me from hogging your comment space.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

very cool!! can we get a sneak-peek - at least the titles of upcoming reviews???

Troll-at-large and frequent troll on Meluhhan's blog said...

Gattaca is the greatest movie ever. Period.

(Do I actually have to type "period" if I end the sentence with a full-stop? Yes, I do - lest you folks relegate it to the status of being a mere unpronounced punctuation mark. And what about the full-stop after "Period"? This is getting very confusing.)

DotThoughts said...

meluhhan: I know.. I googled around and most compilations were not comprehensive. go head and steal, but share the popcorn, ok?

gnd: put a new post up :)

troll: Patience :)We are not quite at G yet. But yes, I loved Gattaca and its sooo on my list.

Mahendra said...

Hey, that was 'mighty kind' of you! :-)

I love your twist on the meme. Look forward to a series of informative posts, since I am quite a novice in this genre!

DotThoughts said...

Mahendra: thanks for putting up a link in your blog!