It’s Lite Topic Friday again.

1. Blade Runner – Sort of a Phillip Marlowe meets Brave New World meets I Robot. Great visuals. Subtlety rare in science fiction. The script is actually better than the book, no offense to Phillip K. Dick.

2. Space Odyssey 2001 – Obviously a bit optimistic about our progress. Probably about 45 minutes longer than it had to be with drawn out scenes of zero gravity basic living, but probably one of the most grandiose presentations on screen without overdoing it. Arthur C. Clarke’s quasi-Jungian themes got dumbed down a bit for the sequel which I’d have avoided like the plague if I’d had had warning.

3. The Lathe of Heaven, PBS version – This was PBS’ first fictional film, lost to the public for 20 years because of bizarre royalties issues, and recently reintroduced. It’s a low budget project that draws you into another world – Ursula LeGuinn’s spirituality of the “eternity of the moment” that was lost in the recent sequel. The movie is about dreams, and so the whole film is dreamlike, for good reason.

4. The Forbidden Planet – The first science fiction movie based on Shakespeare, and probably set the mold for Star Trek.

5. Solyent Green – The best of the 70s genre of dystopian films. Ironic that Charlton Heston played in so many liberal themed movies.

6. Contact – Somewhat dumbed down from Carl Sagan’s lone novel, which ironically ended on a spiritual note the film decided to forego – probably because it would have been too hard to explain to most of the audience. But the film is probably the best science fiction of the last couple of decades.

7. Gattaca – Maybe the second best, a tribute to the dystopianism of the 70s. The only problem is that it was filmed in the Frank Lloyd Wright civic center in San Rafael, which is hardly modern let alone futuristic at this point. It’s hard to be taken “out” of the day-to-day realm when a science fiction movie is a place where I’ve been to work on many occasions.

8. A Clockwork Orange – Kubrick’s creepiness reached a pitch in this film. It’s always been hard for me to watch David Lynch movies because he seems like a Kubrick imitator pushing the extremity of form in lieu of substance, whereas Kubrick laces his extremities with enough thought to chew on. Kubrick’s movies weren’t always rich with substance, but they did a pretty good job of pretending to be.

9. The Empire Strikes Back – Star Wars ushered in the science fiction action movie which very quickly became formulaic and boring. But this one is a classic I can watch over and over again, which for some reason was the best written episode. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was decent. And for one episode some of the bad guys could even shoot.

10. The Day the Earth Stood Still – In an era where science fiction was dominated by anti-communism and other manifestations of paranoia, this movie postulates that if aliens were going to attack it’s probably got more to do with the fact that we’re a bunch of assholes than any shortcomings on their part. Basically, they’re not going to let us off the planet if we can’t keep it together. Isaac Azimov explored this theme in a number of short stories, one or two of which I hope make it to film someday.