12 March 2009

Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead


Tom Hanks in 'Sleepless in Seattle'

Tom Hanks as Sam Baldwin

Tom Hanks is a Chicago Architect who's wife dies (again), so he moves into a house boat in Seattle, is stalked by Meg Ryan and meets her on top of the Empire State Building. Romance and hilarity ensue. They hold hands in the end.

See Sam as he...

Quits his job in Chicago

Visits a construction site

Lives in an awesome house boat

The real kicker (other than the fact that Sam has a full sized plotter on his houseboat) is at the end when they show a dated CGI of the Empire State Building.

The year is 1993, my friends.

Michael Keaton in "White Noise"

Michael Keaton as Jonathan Rivers

Whats that? Another movie with an architect who's wife dies? Then he gets messages from beyond the grave? Sounds like a winner!

Too Many TVs are Spooky.

You see the Ring and then you die. Oh, wrong movie. I get these things confused sometimes.

Lauren Tom in "The Joy Luck Club"

Lauren Tom as Lena St. Clair
Michael Paul Chan as Harold, Lena's Husband

The Stairs are Grey

The Joy Luck Club is a movie about daughters trying to live up to their Mother's expectations. Lena's mother was married to an crazy abusive husband in China. Lena decided to take the total opposite route and married a man who is as fair to her as the day is long and just about as unemotional to boot. This man is Harold, the principle at the architecture firm that Lena works at.

The Kitchen is Grey

The scene that this story occupies takes place in the apartment of the couple. It is a modern, but passionless and lifeless home. Its made of steel and cinder block, with nuetral furniture and a bedroom with walls so crooked that you can't even hang a picture on them.

The Living Room is Grey

This movie presents the opposite of what we've come to expect from the movie architect. Harold and Lena aren't passionate, they are too calculating, they don't seem to like what they do. This couple is so devoid of life that the only TV show that Harold watches is Jeopardy, and he only shows real anger and frustration when he misses a question. There is no music in their lives, a fact that is presented in the movie by suspending the score for a solid 8 minutes, the whole of the scene.

The Bedroom is Grey and the Walls Are Crooked

"All around the house I see the signs my daughter does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces."

03 March 2009

E. Fay Jones in Star Trek

Thorncrown Chapel as The Vulcan High Court

A few months ago, the new preview for JJ Abrams' Star Trek remake came out. At 1:09 into the preview you can see the Vulcan home world, which I assume is in Arkansas because it bears a striking resemblance to the E. Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel.

Its my guess that the production didn't travel to Eureka Springs to film this scene, most likely they CGI'd the background. Its almost certain that the Production Designer did have a photo or two of the chapel in question while working.

Thorncrown has been hailed as one of America's most spiritually uplifting buildings. One does have to question why the production had to choose such an impassioned building to represent the ideals of a race who's nirvana is pure logic.

02 March 2009

Brian Dennehy in "The Belly of an Architect"

Brian Dennehy as Stourley Kracklite
Lambert Wilson as Caspasian Speckler

American architect Stourley Kracklite comes with his young wife Louisa to Rome to supervise an exhibition devoted to Etienne-Louis Boullée, a French architect of the 18th century. Suffering from severe abdominal pains, Stourley doesn't pay much attention to his pregnant wife, and she finds consolation in the arms of suave Caspasian Speckler. Built from rigidly symmetrical images, the film has quite an unusual subject: the belly -- both the sick one of the architect and the pregnant one of his wife, the rounded forms alluding to the spherical constructions designed by Boullée, the architect whose visionary projects seldom materialized. Beautifully shot on location in Rome, this ironic fable wittily examines the issues of artistic creativity.
~ Yuri German, All Movie Guide

If I have learned anything from the last two movies, its that only American architects are allowed to have fun. Anyway, I added the plot summary from Yuri above because I couldn't have said it better myself. Again, this movie is loaded from beginning to end with studio settings, quotes on working, living and thinking like an architect, that I can't sufficiently summarize it in a few paragraphs. As the movie progresses, Kracklite becomes more and more insane. He writes postcards to the dead architect he is celebrating, he photocopies pictures and sketches of stomachs endlessly, he punches a lot of people in the nose, starts to believe that his wife is trying to poison him and his colleagues are plotting against him.

Of course, during all this insanity, his wife does nothing to make him feel better.
Architect: Tell me please, what does 'oh-ahhh' mean?
Wife: Stourley, you've built six-and-a-half-buildings. And now you're spending nine months putting on an exhibition in memory of another architect who also built practically nothing.

Of the whole movie, there is one thing that I have to comment on because of its originality. When Kracklite goes to visit a doctor about his stomach pains, the doctor asks what symptoms the architect has.
Not wasting even a moment, the architect says "Why yes, I've been documenting the symptoms."
Here, we would expect a verbal account of whats going on, the sensations that are being felt, an emotional expression of the pain that is spoken. However, the architect proceeds to take out a folder and hand the doctor more than a dozen sketches over photocopies of stomachs, frenzied drawings of red, orange and yellow. Images that are grotesque yet beautiful,images that convey the silent suffering that the architect endures throughout the last months of his life.