"My Architect: A Son's Journey"
Directed by Nathaniel Kahn.
Written by Nathaniel Kahn.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 2/9/04
As I continue my quest to see films that are
up for Oscar consideration, I tricked Mike “Yac” Iacovone into
seeing “My Architect” last week with me, and while I’m glad I saw
it, I’m glad I don’t have to sit through it ever again.
This is that kind of Matinee, really—an
interesting film about an architect named Louis Kahn who also
happens to be a bastard; the bastard son of this bastard, named
Nathaniel, decided 25 years after last seeing his father that he
would try to make a documentary about the career of his father, as
well as uncover the details behind the three women that Louis
fathered children with and what everyone is up to today.
The worst kind of Port City Playboy, another
in a lost list of names I have come up with to describe the
lifestyle of the man that likes to have his fuckbuddies spread out
in different places, Louis is much worse because he had three women
in the same city and he actually made this work, by cheating on his
wife, neglecting one lover in the workplace and never acknowledging
his third lover to his friends. He’s kind of like Shawn Kemp...oh,
except that all of Louis’s work friends seem to think that this
behavior is okay for the hard-working genius, which Louis apparently
was until his death in a subway station in the mid-70s. Maybe the
most stunning thing about “My Architect” is that the film’s subject
is possibly the most influential American architect of the 20th
century...and Yac and I had never heard of him.
Nathaniel’s search for truth is clumsy at
times, and in covering the physical works of his father, Nathaniel
spends too much time with the camera showing us the buildings that
Louis has designed. Also, for a film like this, it runs on for
almost two hours; Yac checked his watch so many times I thought he
was gonna just leave the theater altogether. Nathaniel did find a
lot of footage featuring his father teaching classes, meeting with
contacts, or doting on his many, uh, ladyfriends and children.
There are also a number of interesting interviews with other
architects from the US and elsewhere, and a couple of the buildings
that Louis designed are truly stunning, timeless works that are done
proper justice in this context. A funny segment featuring the
former city planner for Philadelphia sheds some light on what the
downtown cityscape would have looked like had the city allowed Louis
to design it; NOW I know why Philly is such a shithole!
Well, of the four films nominated for Best
Feature Documentary that I have seen,
“Capturing the Friedmans”
should have this thing locked up. But, “My Architect” does have
some interesting information and shots that could make it more
worthwhile for someone that has a background in architecture...or,
an interest in cheating on their wife.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard