Remember in high school when we just got to watch movies about things we were supposed to be learning? During my Junior year English class, l recall spending two days reading A Streetcar Named Desire, followed immediately by a week and half of watching both the film and the Simpsons parody of it (thanks, local taxpayers!). Sadly my course work for this past semester involved zero film watching. To make up for that lost time during winter break, I compiled 11 great films and TV shows that vaguely relate to urban planning. Happy binging!
Currently streaming on Netflix:
- Los Angeles Plays Itself– A documentary that explores the depiction of Los Angeles in film. Also suggests several other recommendations, including Blade Runner (not streaming), Chinatown (not streaming) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Was I the only one who missed the pro-transit narrative of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? All I remember are those weasels).
- The Truman Show– Filmed in the New Urbanist Community of Seaside, Florida, this film is probably the best argument against New Urbanism. I like to image that Rick Caruso had an exact replica of the control room built high above the Grove, allowing him to control our every move.
- Portlandia – Four seasons of all your favorite Creative Class stereotypes now streaming.
- Frances Ha– Brooklyn 20-somethings, not quite as annoying as the cast of Girls.
- Exit Through the Gift Shop– A compelling look at street art in which LA Scenesters really don’t come off well. Is it real? Not sure, but it’s definitely entertaining.
- The Central Park Five– I recommended it last year, and it’s still good.
Non-streaming but worth seeking out:
- The Pruitt Igoe Myth – I still have not actually been able to see this one. It disappeared from Netflix and now the only LAPL copy sits on a shelf in Brentwood. If anyone has a copy, please call me.
- My Architect – A profile of Louis Kahn, one of the best 20th century American architects. Watch as several of the greatest modern architects that ever lived call each other assholes!
- The Wire – If you haven’t been through The Wire yet, do everything you can to steal a friend’s HBO Go password, then cancel all of your plans for the next month, including traveling home for the holidays.
- Die Hard – A subtle look into nuanced issues of globalization and international terrorism. Plus – a great Christmas movie!
- The Garden – This documentary chronicles what happened to a 14 acre South-Central farm, with major appearances by Mayor’s Garcetti and Villaraigosa, Jan Perry and even Dennis Kucinich!