Monday, February 27, 2006

Don't Get Between an Architect and His Movietime

As is the case with all architects -- okay, I know what you're thinking... you're concerned that I started a sentence by grandiosely and unrealistically lumping all architects into the same stereotyped grab bag of universality... but fear not, for this all-inclusivity is entirely accurate, so I continue -- as is the case with ALL architects, I dearly love the movies. I will sit and watch a Don Knotts film (can Don Knotts movies be called "films"?) as enthusiastically as I watch one of the Matrix films as mesmerized as I am when watching anything by Zhang Yimou (Daggers, Heroes, and Tigers, oh my!).

When I watch a movie, I am in that world, and I do not judge. That comes later, when the self-loathing begins. To my credit, my DVD collection contains 115 films, and 80% of them are brag-worthy. Still, I concede that I am far too open-minded and tolerant when it comes to my movietime. Some who are not at all like me in constitution and temperament hate movies that drag on and on and on and on, like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Eyes Wide Shut. Yet I watch them all, entranced and hypnotized. And applaud lustily when the credits roll. Always.

For example, I loved Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy. Everything about that movie was perfect, from the music -- especially the music -- to the acting, costumes, screenplay, cinematography, and direction. Unfortunately, I was about to link to the trailer for you until I saw that they changed it. The trailer that came out right as the movie was being released was the best trailer I've ever seen. The current one on the website is pitiful and pathetic, retooled for teenaged girlies -- not that there's anything wrong with teenaged girlies, mind you. Just that I am not one myself, so am not impressed with the new trailer. Actually, quite the opposite since I saw the original one.

Funny thing, though, is while I believed for two months that Pride and Prejudice was the best movie of 2005, when I saw Capote two weekends ago with my best girl, I changed my mind. And let me stipulate for the record that I am old enough to remember seeing Truman Capote on teevee and being wholly impressed with his intellect and... uh... eccentricities. Capote, the Oscar-nominated film, is not to be missed, if it can be helped at this late date, and Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves the Best Actor Oscar for his greatest work, which also includes Almost Famous and Magnolia, two other favorites of mine. Catherine Keener as Harper Lee must not be missed either, especially if you're a fan of the book (and movie) To Kill a Mockingbird, as both my best girl and I are.

Now that I have the introductory paragraphs out of the way, let me tell you what I really have in mind.

About a month ago, during some big football game, I saw a trailer for The Next Big Film, this one featuring Natalie Portman without hair (as seen above). Now I'm not talking Demi Moore's version of butchiness via baldness as in G.I. Jane. No, Miss Portman, whose character is clearly under duress throughout the film, was more beatific, in the mold of Persis Khambatta from the first Star Trek movie in 1979.

However, the plotline of the trailer looked more like George Orwell's 1984 meets Gattica meets Minority Report meets your worst nightmare. (Come to think of it, John Hurt was also in the film version of 1984, wasn't he, though as the protagonist?) This new film? V For Vendetta, the Wachowski brothers' latest offering. You remember those guys don't you? Matrix, Matrix II, Matrix III, ad infinitum. Yeah, those guys. Hard to believe, but those two have more creative plot lines for us to enjoy than can be played out by the fine yeoman-efforts of actor Keanu Reeves.

March 17th. Here's that trailer by the way: V For Vendetta (requires Quicktime) FYI: The trailer is slow to load.

But more than watching and enjoying the trailer for The Next Big Film, let me steer you to a blog entry about The Next Big Film as written by James Wolcott, one of the finest writers in blogdom. As you read his offering, and read it you must, notice how Wolcott eases into the movie review by peppering his mysteriously unfolding essay with dropped names of the Famous and the Beautiful. And also notice how he never really reviews the movie in the typical I'll-spill-the-whole-plot-out-for-you-because-I-don't-know-any-other-way way. The man's brilliant, but then I'm not saying anything he doesn't already know about himself. I confess that I simply lack the words to describe his transcendent insights, so can only recommend that you begin reading him as regularly as I.

That is all. Until the Next Big Film comes around, of course. Then you can once again expect me to get all giddy as a teenaged girlie -- not that there's anything wrong with that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree whole-heartedly with your movie sentiments Howard. There have been two occasions, however, where I did walk out of the movie while viewing in the theater: The Perfect Storm and The Others. All the wide-eyed wonder in the world can't make these movie-going experiences enjoyable.

Personally, I think Mario and Luigi (the Wachowskis) had myriad choices in terms of comic book characters on which to base their movie, and they chose so very poorly. Have you seen the hero's costume? He looks like some lame musketeer type with a horrible little wisp of a moustache and a joker-like smile that is not heroic or menacing in any way. I want to see the movie version of Ghost Rider, or the X-force movie with Cable, Bishop, etc. The only ones that have been done right have been the Spiderman, X-men, and latest Batman. Daredevil was horrible, and the Fantastic Four was less than fantastic.

Mario and Luigi could have done Wonder Woman, Captain America, the Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, etc. Why did they pick the lame french-looking guy with a feather in his hat? So very lame....

1:46 PM, February 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to this blog via tbogg or some such place because I had an architect question. Why do they(architects) never call up a year or so later and say how is it working out? What do you like best. What is not working. etc. ect. Especially for public buildings. I feel much could be learned by these questions.

I got so charmed by your posts, I read them all. Very funny. I agree with you on everything. I had some friends who built a vanity house. Everything was custom. I am not sure how much it cost--it was in the early 90's. Their mortgage payment was $11,000 per mo. I do know that. They lived in it 8 months before they realized that they hated everything about it--the great room, the master suite, the kids wing. Fortunately they sold it before the dot com bubble burst. They built another house--nothing custom that was 2500 sq ft.-- and lived happily ever after. Keep up the wonderful posts sir.

8:12 PM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

Those phone calls to past clients one or more years later are considered to be very instructive and valuable to architects (and to their clients, particularly if they work in the public realm). And yet as you say, architects do not take advantage of those learning opportunities as much as they should. Those post-mortems are actually called Post Occupancy Evaluations, and all architects know of them. But still they don't follow through often enough. I know I haven't.

In my practice as a custom home designer, Post Occupancy Evaluations would be especially helpful and even fun as reunions.

Although I started out designing everything commercial under the sun -- educational, ecclesiastical, commercial office and retail, large and small recreational, and lots of healthcare related work -- when I started my own firm, I consciously and intentionally chose to focus on custom residential because that's where my heart wanted to be since first deciding to become Architect.

With residential design, the number of decisions per dollar spent in construction increased ten-fold, the amount of my compensation per decision made dropped equivalently, and the emotion levels and the amount of hand-holding increased exponentially! And still I'm loving it. So far anyway.

Thank you for the kind words about my writing. I've always had a good feel for charming and entertaining readers, while also keeping my stories focused. I used to write news and sports copy for mediocre pay when I was much younger, and I enjoyed that work. Fortunately, I decided to get myself a real occupation and scrapped the newsie crap in time to save my soul.

An $11,000 per month mortage would be what one would expect with a $2 million house to be owned by someone making half-a-million a year, assuming they didn't inherit their wealth. I would love to design a house with a massive budget someday, but all my clients so far seem to like the idea of keeping their mortgages under $5,000 a month, which limits their construction costs to something at or under $1 million. For high-quality custom homes in our particular region of the country, this gives us a target of something around 3,000 square feet above ground, and a finished walk-out basement if the lot's characteristics cooperate. Still fairly modest (and comfortable) by some of the standards of Filthy Richness on public display.

One architecture professor once said -- I seem to be quoting a lot of professors on this blog -- an architect is fortunate if he/she has one client throughout his/her career who gives him/her total freedom to design to his/her heart's content. So far I'm still in training for that client.

Hope you keep in touch. Thanks again!

11:07 PM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply about the Post Occupancy Evaluations(POE). Sorry, while I know people who could afford $11,000 per mo mortgage payments, I am not one of them. Also, while I do own two homes, I have made it a life rule to only live in pre-established buildings. Both of my homes are under 1100 sq.ft. One has no electricity. Still I love architecture and do not oppose others building--if its not ugly. Yes, I will check back some time. I am still anonymous, but you can sign me Charmed and Entertained

5:09 PM, March 09, 2006  

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