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This is one of the most ravishing series of short films I've ever seen. Each features an extraordinary work and there are sometimes interviews with living architects. I intend to watch all 30, and have now already seen 9. You are taken through the assembly of these sublime buildings, and then there is no more of this 'Oh, well I hate the Pompidou Center', or 'The Palais Garnier is tacky' kind of thing so much, because you see the planning behind it. Aside from these, which were both excellent, I have also seen La Tourette Convent of Le Corbusier, which had assistance from Iannis Xennakis, better known as a composer (and part of his 'Metastasis' is heard toward the end.) The old Bauhaus Building is still in existence in Dessau. But the most dramatic I've seen is Liebeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin, which is so often visited, there must be many here who have been there. This is literally breathtaking when you find that one of the few remaining buildings after WWII, an 18th baroque building, itself contains the entrance to Liebeskind's masterpiece, connecting two conflicting Germanys. The settings and prospects and history of all these buildings is as comprehensive as possible given the limitations of time, but thus far, Liebeskind's museum is the most dramatic. These films open up the world of modern architecture, which seems to be more impressive nowadays in most ways than do the other Arts. I certainly can't think think of anything new in opera, for example, that comes anywhere near the excitement of some of these buildings--some arts definitely have their great periods in previous centuries, we have to be happy with the occasional exception. But architecture continues, and it's lovely to find that it's not nearly all just more Frank Gehry. Liebeskind's site design for the WTC site is still to take off, of course, bogged down endlessly in battles, although the individual buildings will be done by other architects.

The English voice-over is by one Judith Burnett, and this is a wonderful pleasure--superb spoken English, but not precious in that way some New Yorkers may associate with some of the old WQXR ladies. ARTE is a French-German culture television station, so some there may know these, as they are not usually shown here as far as I know, although they are in Switzerland and Belgium. Co-producers include Musee D'Orsay, Pompidou Center, National Center of Cinematography. There is a very metropolitan sensation to these films, modernity and freshness, and the two main filmmakers behind them are Richard Copans and Stan Neumann. I don't know how easily available they are though. They begin about 2000-2001, then continue over the next few years.

Added: This is a different kind of architectural item (not exactly 'high art'), but very interesting, because it's one single property worth almost 4 time the 10 residences of John and Cindy McCain, which are being much talked about today: Candy Spelling keeps her gift-wrapping room intact.


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