Perhaps no director has combined genius with coldness to quite the same degree as Stanley Kubrick. His epic head trip "2001: A Space Odyssey" is as beautiful as a diamond tiara but as warm and feeling as an anthrax germ.
The movie, as stunning now (particularly on the Senator's big screen, where it opens today as part of that theater's 70mm film festival) as it was in 1968 when it redefined the concept of special effects, offers a view of the universe's significance and homo sapiens' insignificance. We are but cosmic worms, Kubrick seems to be saying; the only true godforms are the aliens whose ways we cannot know (and, of course, movie directors).
Beginning with the discovery by a tribe of apes on the African savanna some 2 million years ago that a bone could be a tool -- a weapon -- it takes the quantum leap into space as if the intervening years were a mere technicality. The story proper is as minimalist as a haiku: in 17 syllables, "Man finds signs of other life/goes to check it out/is surprised big-time."