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Katherine Shonfield

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There is currently a conspiracy theory circulating that the Tourist Board is in cahoots with the government, and has sprinkled a bumper crop of bank holidays as far from any potential good weather as it can. The fiendishly Machiavellian reasoning is this: good weather means you do especially fun things - like lying down in the sun - that try as 'they' might a) don't involve tourist 'facilities' and b) do not entail parting with any cash.

For the reputation of all, I sincerely hope the weather proves this disgraceful allegation wrong, but in case it doesn't, you should eschew the delights of theme parks and go to the cinema instead. With the word 'renaissance' bandied about like a hopeful mantra, all the time, it's difficult to realise when you are actually in the midst of one. The proof is when a truly great film, American Beauty, collects all the Oscars.

Among many other things, this film celebrates what is particular to the American idea of beauty: the capacity to seize the day, to experience through the senses a world without future or past. It does this through an extraordinary device in a mainstream box-office blockbuster. It shows the viewer an extract from an amateur film of a paper bag dancing in the wind. As you watch the bag move, you are caught up in the moment of a film without narrative: it conveys through its own immediacy that you, watching in the cinema, are alive for that moment alone.

And it reminds you of what architecture, alone of the arts, effortlessly accomplishes - something even film can achieve fleetingly, and only visually. Architecture orchestrates the present using all the senses. It is as integrated in our experience of the now as the sound of a voice, or the touch of a hand. An astonishing film, American Beauty will make you remember why you are an architect.

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