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Old 11-17-2010, 10:18 AM   #1
Pierce
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The architecture of cinema

I am looking for a film to show a group of undergrads, with the hope of it launching a discussion of space, material, human ritual, etc. I want it to not be a documentary about architecture or anything super didactic, but an inroad to the students sniffing around for architectural influence, abstracting architectural thoughts about experience, theme, etc. Also I want it to not be Blade Runner.

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:42 AM   #2
Beton Brut
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Films containing John Lautner buildings.

Also of interest.
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:43 PM   #3
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Gangs of New York? May not be a contemporary setting, but they did quite a bit with the cityscape there. While it was mostly the immigrant poor in poor neighborhoods, they also portrayed the wealthy 5th Avenue elite at various points in the film as well. At the very least, it's a great film and this could give you an excuse to watch it again even if it's just to see if it fits what you're looking for.
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:47 PM   #4
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Gattica is an intelligent science fiction (more correctly "perspective" fiction) film from the late 90s. There's a strong design focus in the film that accentuates the issues of genetic engineering that the film addresses.
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:03 PM   #5
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Supposedly Gremlins 2 is a commentary on architecture, but I haven't seen it.
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:56 PM   #6
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Re: The architecture of cinema

There are lots of movies that feature beautifully photographed architecture--The International is a great recent example. But Michealangelo Antonioni's films feature architecture in an integral role. I believe he actually studied to be an architect when he was younger. In his films, especially his L'Aventurra trilogy, whenever we see architecture on screen, it is diliberate and has meaning -- its communicating something important.

You may also consider Jacques Tati's Playtime, a visually amazing parody of mid-century Modernism which he feared was gobbling up and homogenizing Paris at the time. Tati actually built a miniture city, called Tativille, in Paris to film it.

Russian Ark is a beautiful film that treats the Winter Palace in St Petersburg as a the physical container for the entirety of Russian culture.

For a more abstract treatment of architecture, I think Kubrick was a master of capturing what Paul Rudolph called the "psychology of space". Basically, this is how we not physically, but mentally occupy a space and how that space occupies us, effects us psychologically. The Shining is probably his most obvious example of this. Kubrick was also an incredibly visually focused film maker. Like Antonioni, when we see architecture in a Kubrick film, it is likely deliberate and meaningful.

There are also many films that have nothing to do with architecture per se, but are structurally obsessed. Pulp Fiction and Momento spring to mind.
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Old 11-17-2010, 10:45 PM   #7
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Really interesting suggestions, all (really, Gremlins 2? or am I missing the joke?). If nothing else this will keep me occupied over the holidays.

I initially thought this could be a great opportunity to expand my own understanding and delve into Metropolis or Battleship Potemkin or Tati or the like. But honestly I must first serve my students, and as idealistically as I like to approach studio I think a significant portion will check out mentally at the first sign of a subtitle.

So I wanted to go for a movie that I knew intimately, interesting for a range of cognitive levels but with some depth, beautifully shot, with interesting architectural comparisons, and arrived at Rushmore. Which is also conveniently one of the few dvd's I own, so I don't have to track down a copy either.

Anyway I just rewatched it and was able to key in on 6 or 7 ideas/question with which to launch/moderate/resuscitate a discussion relevant to architecture. It's nice watching it through such a specific filter, and the act of synthesizing some scattered observations or thoughts gives me new appreciation of the depth of the movie.

Hopefully the students agree. Thanks again, everyone.
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:56 PM   #8
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Re: The architecture of cinema

I applaud your choice.

Wes Anderson has an eye for architecture. There's a Wright house (outside Dallas, I think this is it) in Bottle Rocket. Chas Tenenbaum's apartment is Paul Rudolph's Beekman Place townhouse.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:26 AM   #9
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beton Brut View Post
Chas Tenenbaum's apartment is Paul Rudolph's Beekman Place townhouse.
I always wondered about that one!!! I love the main townhouse; it's at 144th and Convent Ave, probably my favorite street in all of Manhattan.

http://goo.gl/maps/Ji9O
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:57 AM   #10
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Re: The architecture of cinema

^ Never been to that area. Looks strikingly like the Back Bay.
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Old 11-18-2010, 09:57 PM   #11
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Looks like I guessed correctly about the house in Bottle Rocket.
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Old 11-20-2010, 08:05 AM   #12
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Re: The architecture of cinema

Shutter Island, a place assembled from several states and provinces. The music is similarly gathered from the best of atmospheric modernism. Scorsese again.
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