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Arthouse’s Rooftop Architecture Film Series

Certain things are better imagined, than actually experienced. And, I think movies out of doors might be one of those things. On the other hand, Caitlyn Collins recently wrote fondly about it in Last Film of the 101x Summer Cinema Series, Austin.

Last week, I went to see a film about Rem Koolhaas—architect extraordinaire, known for contending with the Modernist “Program”—at Arthouse’s Rooftop Architecture Film Series. About halfway through the film a bustling engine paraded down the street below, followed closely by the sound of a hurried siren, obviously both headed to nearby destinations. Needless to say, these noises are disruptive when you’re watching a movie on the third floor of a roof-deck…outside.

Winds rolled through the exposed roof-deck, causing the flexile screen to undulate, and neighboring office buildings’ lights flick on and off. The movement of the city often proved more attention-grabbing than the film itself, or at least more demanding.

On a crowded roof, although everyone stayed seated mostly, when subtitles flash on at the bottom of the screen, forget reading the words for obstructing heads. I then caught myself thinking, if I really wanted to “get” the content of this film, I would have to rent it. Other theaters have stadium seating.

And, that’s precisely the point. It’s about the novelty. It’s not your average movie-going experience with popcorn, stadium seating, and Hollywood blockbusters, where you are trapped indoors with snickering audience members and no beer. You didn’t buy a ticket to see Matthew McConaughey, or the like, take his shirt off one more time. Nor will you have the luxury of complete silence, or darkness.

You are watching films in the city, amidst clamoring, where you might gaze real architecture while watching the mediated version, which speaks to one Koolhaas’s points: “The City is an addictive machine from which there is no escape.”

photos by Rowan Ogden

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