Helen Mirren in 2010.

The other night I watched 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) again
on one of the cable channels. More generally known simply as 2010,
the movie is the sequel to 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey and continues
the story of the investigation into the strange monolith begun in the
first movie.

I saw the movie again a few months back. But at that time I guess I
concentrated more on the plot, on the voyage of the Leonov to Jupiter,
the awakening of the American ship Discovery and the HALL-9000 computer,
and the investigation of the monolith — which at that time had taken
up orbit near Jupiter's moon Io.

This time around I confess I watched 2010 primarily for Helen Mirren.
I first came across Helen in the movie Excaliber (1981) when I saw it
at the theater, and I fell immediately in love with her. After Excaliber
I followed her in Red King, White Knight (1989), White Nights (1985),
and of course 2010. Helen may not have looked more beautiful than she
did back then in the 80s — already in her late 30s and early 40s.
She's still looks pretty amazing even now.

Helen has been appearing nude or semi-nude in movie roles ever since
one of her first movies, Age of Consent (1969). And in fact her role
as Caesonia in Caligula (1979) was pretty infamous. But she never has
crossed the line into "skanky" like some actresses who have done similar.
Sex and nudity or not, she has always come across as "proper English"
and in fact is a Dame of the British Empire. Put her in a pair of black
fishnet hose and heels and a black dress pulled off the shoulder and
she somehow remains far away from skanky.

Helen's father was Russian, and she grew up with the language. She
claims not to be fluent in it, but when it comes to speaking it in
movie roles she obviously has no problem with it. Her ability with
Russian came in very handy in 2010 in her role as Tanya Kirbuk, the
commander of the Leonov.

There are a number of good scenes in the movie featuring Helen. In my
favorite, Commander Kirbuk is sitting down with Dr. Floyd (Roy Scheider)
to disucss how to best find out information about the monolith. Mirren
wants to send a manned craft down to investigate. "Max will take the
pod" she says. Scheider protests strongly, saying that they have no
idea what the monolith really is or how it will respond, and suggests
sending down an unmanned probe. Helen sticks with her decision. "Max
will take the pod" she says again, firmly. With the Russian accent, it
comes across more like "Max weel take the pawd."

Oh yeah. Max weel take the pawd. I don't know why I find that so sexy,
but I do. Perhaps it's just the accent. Or maybe it's the accent and
Helen's eyes. Or the accent and her eyes and the look of her mouth as
she says it…

Helen and me are at dinner. Candlelight, wine, good conversation. And
eventually she reaches out and takes my hand and half-closes her eyes
and elevates her chin in that way she has and says "Max weel take the

Strange how eroticism can come in many forms.