CCA Cine­math­eque presents a se­ries on In­spired Ar­chi­tec­ture

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For five weeks be­gin­ning Fri­day, Sept. 2, the Cine­math­eque at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail) is of­fer­ing In­spired

Ar­chi­tec­ture, a se­ries of films that ex­plore spe­cific build­ings or other con­struc­tions scat­tered about the globe. Al­though ar­chi­tec­ture is osten­si­bly the fo­cus, that’s not the case at all with the open­ing pre­sen­ta­tion, Teatro alla Scala: The Tem­ple of Won­ders (Fri­day, Sept. 2, through Mon­day, Sept. 5), which comes across as a mar­ket­ing film. It hardly speaks about Mi­lan’s phys­i­cal opera house at all, in­stead serv­ing as a pro­mo­tional tool, prin­ci­pally for con­duc­tor Daniel Baren­boim but also for a succession of talk­ing heads who find in­fi­nite ways to say, “It’s such a spe­cial place be­cause so many fa­mous peo­ple have passed through it.” There are, how­ever, two mo­ments that live up to the billing as “won­ders.” One is a fleet­ing seg­ment of young Lu­ciano Pavarotti singing a snip­pet of the “Hos­tias” from Verdi’s Re­quiem at La Scala in 1967 — melt­ingly gor­geous. The other is a glimpse of Re­nata Te­baldi with a 1960s hairdo so mas­sive you might sus­pect hid­den as­sis­tants are prop­ping it up from be­hind.

More suc­cess­ful is Saint Peter’s and the Pa­pal Basil­i­cas of Rome (Sept. 16-19), which pro­vides a good deal of his­tor­i­cal and ar­chi­tec­tural com­men­tary on these Ro­man ed­i­fices. It is mostly a tour-guide-level visit, but at least the guides are real ex­perts, in­clud­ing two di­rec­tors of Vat­i­can col­lec­tions. The film in­cludes lots of slow-pan­ning aerial pho­tog­ra­phy, and most of it is ac­com­pa­nied by a dawdling New-Age score that could drive one crazy.

The other of­fer­ings in­clude a dou­ble bill of Cavedig­ger, about Ra Paulette, who sculpted rooms within New Mexico’s sand­stone cliffs, and Mon­u­ment to the Dream, about Eero Saari­nen’s Gate­way Arch in St. Louis (Sept. 9-12); An­to­nio Gaudí, de­scribed as an “aes­thet­i­cally au­da­cious” film about the Cata­lan ar­chi­tect by Ja­panese di­rec­tor Hiroshi Teshi­ga­hara, “less a doc­u­men­tary than a vis­ual poem” (Sept. 23-26); and In­fi­nite Space: The Ar­chi­tec­ture of John Laut­ner, a Frank Lloyd Wright pro­tégé (Sept. 30-Oct. 3). The films are shown at 11 a.m. on Fri­days through Sun­days and 5:30 p.m. on Mon­days. For in­for­ma­tion, call 505-982-1338 or con­sult www.ccas­­math­eque. — James M. Keller

Stills from the In­spired Ar­chi­tec­ture se­ries: An­to­nio Gaudí and, top, Saint Peter’s and the Pa­pal Basil­i­cas of Rome

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