Sharpen your knives, I’m ready. 2001 has great sequences, yes — HAL 9000 is an unforgettable cinematic villain, and the “Jupiter Mission” section (the bulk of the film, really) is powerful and often unbearably tense. But people tend to selectively edit the film in their memory, forgetting the inexplicably endless “Dawn of Man” and “TMA-1” sequences before it, and how they go on and on. And on. And on. Kubrick, for all of his technical skill, seems to have forgotten in the years since Dr. Strangelove, how to tell a story. “It isn’t accidental that we don’t care if the characters live or die,” Pauline Kael wrote in 1969. “If Kubrick has made his people so uninteresting, it is partly because characters and individual fates just aren’t big enough for certain kinds of big movie directors… It’s a bad, bad sign when a movie director begins to think of himself as a myth-maker, and this limp myth of a grand plan that justifies slaughter and ends with resurrection has been around before.”
Those are our picks — what “important” films do you wish you’d skipped sitting through?