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Over the weekend, I caught a screening of Burn After Reading, which turned out to be better than the reviews would have you believe. But the biggest surprise was the trailer for The International. Watching the opening scene, you’re probably thinking the same thing I did: The financial crisis, coming to a theater near you. But beyond the (once?) absurd plot of a the world’s largest bank funding murders and coups, the movie looks like it could be the most architecturally savvy since The Fountainhead. To wit:
The opening scene (of the trailer–the movie’s not out until next February, no doubt in time for the Oscars) is a shot of Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building, once the city’s tallest and still one of its most recognizable. While countless movies open with aerial shots of skyscrapers both recognizable and not–Wall Street, Ground Hog Day, in the near future Blade Runner–few so lovingly embrace iconic buildings, both new and very old, in the way The International does, or at least seems to.
From the typically non-descript post-post-modern glass towers of modern finance to more refined and identifiable landmarks like Zaha Hadid’s Phaeno Science Center and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, architecture approaches a fetishitic level in the film/trailer. (Limited edition AN tote bag to the first reader who can actually identify the seemingly contrived headquarters/rendering at the 0:47 mark. Leave a comment if that thing is for real.)
All this high level design could simply be a reflection of the zeitgeist, as bold-face architects like Hadid and Frank Gehry have become ubiquitous marketing brands in recent years. How then to explain the film’s most shocking architectural gesture: a shoot out in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum. Just as director Tom Twykers (of Run Lola Run fame) picked the perfect moment to launch a movie about an evil bank– whether he knew it or not–maybe he also was right on the mark in heralding the death of high design.
Or maybe it’s just a movie trailer. Check back in a few for a full report.