2014, Movies

Cathedrals of Culture (2014, Karim Aïnouz, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Margreth Olin, Robert Redford, Wim Wenders)

This is an omnibus film about various man-made architectural wonders in the world.

The first film, Olin’s, which is about the Oslo Opera House, is a little too pseudo-profound for my liking, though beautiful – both in how it is shot and its score, the latter of which makes sense given the building.

It’s Glawogger’s film of the library in St. Petersberg that is the real standout for me – juxtaposing quotes from Russian authors with the modern state of the library.

Madsen’s film is interesting – Halden prison itself is really interesting… fascinating really – but the narration is problematic, just as with Olin’s film. I want to know more about this building in terms of its function, though.

Redford’s film of The Salk Institute manages to make a very ugly building look interesting and, at times, pretty. And his narration is well thought-out – more concerned with the making of the building itself than the other filmmakers are.

Wenders’ film about the Berlin Philharmonic is again plagued by the narration that plague’s Olin’s and Madsen’s film, though this time it’s more obvious and less vague. It’s still clunky.

Ainouz’s film of the Centre Pompidou takes the personification of building narration to even further heights than Maden’s and Wender’s and, for me, that makes it perhaps the weakest of the bunch.

There are a lots of pretty shots of pretty, interesting and unique buildings, but this collection is extremely inconsistent because all but two of the filmmakers seem to have decided the only way we can watch films about buildings is if they are personified using extremely clunky narration. I hate that, and the more of the films I watched, the more I couldn’t take it any more. (Meaning that I probably disliked the last one the most more because of the narration technique than the film itself.)

So if you find it on Netflix, only watch the two ones that aren’t so damn dumb.


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