VIFF 2017: Big Time is almost as audacious as the "starchitect" it celebrates

(Denmark)

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      Fans of architecture will want to flock to this aptly artful look at Bjarke Ingels, the young Danish starchitect with the audacity to design Vancouver House—a shimmering, twisting tower built to look like a curtain opening on a zig-zagging mass of low-rise, grass-roofed residences.

      But director Kaspar Astrup Schröder so celebrates Ingels’s supercaffeinated creativity and form-exploding aesthetic that this doc is going to entertain just about anybody. As one developer asks him at one point, “How do you sleep?” You can almost see the activity and ideas bouncing around Ingels’s brain—and that brain will bring him some great difficulty at the film’s climax, on his 40th birthday.

      But where Big Time really excels is in its years-long, intimate portrait, visiting Ingels’s idyllic yet humble Danish roots, where he grew up by a lake, playing outdoors, and working odd jobs. Some of the best scenes feature the architect, who once wanted to be a cartoonist, illustrating his ideas with a fat Magic Marker on a scroll of paper.

      With swooping pans, Schröder also captures the magic of Ingels’s impossible structures—most notably, the eco-friendly power plant that launched his career. That’s the one with a ski slope on the roof and smoke rings blowing out from its chimney.

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