CCA Cinematheque presents a series on Inspired Architecture
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.ccasantafe.org/cinematheque. — James M. Keller
Stills from the Inspired Architecture series: Antonio Gaudí and, top, Saint Peter’s and the Papal Basilicas of Rome