Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Do you just never wanna get laid again?": Tribeca Part Whatever

So, like I was saying, subject matter. I am always looking for films that deal honestly and insightfully with issues of race and class in America, like Crash, if that film had anything honest or insightful to say about race and class in America. I mean, if provocation was sufficient, than White Man's Burden and Soul Man would be important films.

The Architect, which played at Tribeca, intrigued me because the synopsis in the festival catalogue made it seem like it was about an architect (Anthony LaPaglia) who had designed a housing project in Chicago, and a resident/activist (Viola Davis) who was trying to have the buildings--now a haven for drug dealers--torn down. Having read There Are No Children Here, Alex Kotlowitz's excellent nonfiction book about a family living in Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green, and being a fan of Bernard Rose's underrated Candyman, which took place at a fictionalized version of Cabrini Green, I had a lot of curiosity about how detailed the film would be in its depiction of project life, and how incisive it would be in confronting the culpability of well-meaning, well-to-do white liberals in the suffering of poor black people.

Well, filmmaker Matt Tauber has taken the opportunity to make yet another film in a long, storied tradition, about the suffering of well-meaning, well-to-do white liberals. The Architect is not so much about a poor black woman who is so desperate to change her family's surroundings that she petitions the government to destroy her home, and comes into conflict with the arrogant man who had some very progressive ideas in mind when he originally designed that home. It's a little bit about that. But it's much more about the architect himself and his midlife crisis and his kooky wife (Isabella Rossellini), and his sexually confused and vulnerable teenage children. So, it's kind of a bait-and-switch, and by the standards of your typical "rich people and their problems" flick, it still doesn't have much to offer. The film is based on a play by Scottish playwright David Greig, and I suspect that the original play has nothing at all to do with race or America, and it hasn't been sufficiently adapted to address its new setting. Why would you want to adapt this story to Chicago only to gloss over all of the racial issues involved, focusing on the poor architect and his familial woes? The answer escapes me.

1 comment:

StephaniePisces said...

I, for one, have not had my fill of movies about upperclass marital angst. What's the big deal about race, anyway? The Civil War was like, over 100 years ago. Get over it, people.

Sounds like THE ARCHITECT is the best thing to come to theaters since SPANGLISH. Kudos, Mr. Tauber!