toppings 11 : london 2027
ok, it was an admittedly bad choice of film for close-to-bedtime-cuddling, and it made me so nervous i had a tough time sleeping. but in my book, that’s a definite plus for any movie. i'm talking about the dynamic, supersaturated dystopian pastiche of alfonso cuarón’s children of men, a “political thriller.” a sort of weak and ultimately cheesy plot, a touch of sentimentalism, big fx, beastishly charismatic leading hunk, damsel in serious distress…all you could expect from your average action flick. still, this isn’t your average anything. the movie’s surface is stunning because it’s imbued with gut-reference and style dictates you could expect from a poetic incursion into the process of meat-packing, for instance.
after the film i felt queasy, and my neck ached. even though there’s a lot of blood spattered around (in a particularly sequence, some of it gets on the camera lens, and stays there for a couple of minutes), the toughest thing to take in isn’t the gore, but the overwhelming resonance of the violence, abuse, barren consumption and forlorn everydayness portrayed, in perfect accord with present-day conditions. 2027 doesn’t seem that far away, and that’s what makes it scary.
if you haven’t seen the film, you have to, i don't want to start spoiling. if you’re an architect and haven’t seen the film, you have to, twice at least.
don’t bother with trying out the storyline. just take in the clues between the lines (or the frames, or whatever). the scene is london on the verge of meltdown. see what the professional future might have in store for you. maybe it already does. shady extra-legal government detention camps (ceuta or abu grhaib or guantánamo ring a bell?), wildcat , street-warfare (beirut? ghaza? baghdad?), anti-terrorist checkpoints, spiritual junkies, narcotic media control, corporate grays, consumer depression, radical identity politics, spatial exclusion, and the end of public things. cuarón’s london 2027 is a condensed, scaled and exacerbated simulacrum of the world we live in, now.
the film grips. a review quotes the director saying: “we cannot afford one single frame without a comment on the state of things…the story of this movie is just the coat hanger. what's important is the fabric that you're going to hang.” architects should take note. in fact, a fair share of sting in the movie heads straight for our crowd of “creatives”, designers, artsy types and yes, gulp, architects. here are the modern contemporaries (los modernillos), dining in an appropriately herzog&demeuronesque set staged in the belly of the battersea power station, dubbed the “ark of the arts.” the guy who runs the place is clad in black, sipping wine, probably gay, and all-in-all uncomfortably architecty. he spends his money and time rescuing artistic treasures from around the rotten globe. then he hangs them on white walls as a backdrop to his meaningless life. he too has lost hope, but decides to live on for taste and refinement, like others in the film choose guns or tai-chi or dogs or strong pot. why, the hero asks, choose art, when there won’t be anyone left to look or care? what’s the point? more precisely, what's the justification? the artsy type's demolishing cameo-closing response should sound strangely familiar. you just have to avoid thinking about it.