The 57th New York Film Festival just ended, but luckily many of the films that feature architecture as a main character will be released in theaters or available online. Here's a breakdown of the must-see flicks where cities takes center stage: Motherless Brooklyn A fictionalized Robert Moses called Moses Randolph (played by Alec Baldwin), drives the plot of Motherless Brooklyn, a film by and starring Edward Norton, scion of the real estate Rouse family. It's set in the 1950s in what he calls “the secret history of modern New York, with…the devastation of the old city from neighborhoods right up to Penn Station, perpetrated at the hands of an autocratic, almost imperial force.” That ruthless force is Randolph, Commissioner of Parks, Buildings and an “Authority.” For reference, the Triborough Bridge can be seen through his office window. In the film, Randolph plans slum clearance in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, just as he has just done in Tremont in the Bronx, which is protested by Gabby Horowitz (played by Cherry Jones), a Jane Jacobs stand-in. Randolph is at the root of a murder, which Norton’s character, a gumshoe with Tourette’s syndrome, is investigating. The film treats us to actual locations: we drive by the Jones Beach Water Tower, hold a rally in Washington Square, and we even visit (in CGI) the original Penn Station, demolished under Moses. Free Time Free Time, a documentary set in the same period, is a real-life counterweight to Motherless Brooklyn. It celebrates neighborhoods that could be in danger of Randolph/Moses’s slum clearance gentrification plans. The film opens with a sequence of carved stone architectural ornaments, which serve as a leitmotif throughout this black-and-white-filmed poem that was shot between 1958 to 1960 and newly edited by now 88-year old filmmaker Manfred Kirschheimer. With shots filmed in Washington Heights, Hell’s Kitchen, and West 83 Street, it shows construction workers tearing down buildings and putting up new ones, bridges, and, most of all, neighborhoods. Parasite Another kind of ruthlessness is symbolized by the architecture of contrasts in Parasite, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, directed by Bong Joon-ho. The struggling Kim family occupies a grim basement apartment in Seoul. They attach themselves to the Parks, a wealthy family, and their high modernist house built by a prominent (fictional) Korean architect named Namgoong, who built it for himself before moving to Paris. The Parks identify themselves with the architect’s creativity and maintain the modernist aesthetic. The man levels of the house, including a hidden subterranean fallout shelter, factor into the plot, as does the plate-glass facade leading to the walled-in garden, an oasis in the midst of the capital city. The film is a tale of class conflict, deception, and home. More to see Other films that feature architecture include Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodóvar in which the main character, a filmmaker (played by Antonio Banderas), lives in an art-filled and colorful Madrid apartment with sliding glass walls after growing up in a “cave-like” apartment lit by a skylight. Martin Scorsese sets his new film, The Irishman, in mid-century Philadelphia, New York, and Detroit while Noah Baumbach uses the many apartments and theaters of New York as a contrast to the endless houses, offices, and restaurants of Los Angeles in Marriage Story. Of the short films featured in the festival's Projections category, Kansas Atlas (Peggy Ahwesh) shows split-screen aerials in the dead center of the United States, with land tracts, houses, factories, silos, and turbines, as SIGNAL 8 (Simon Liu), provides a psychedelic, fast-cut journey through the urban archeology and construction sites of Hong Kong as a storm approaches. A Topography of Memory (Burak Çevik) features CCTV footage of Istanbul and Houses (for Margaret) (Luke Fowler) is about a woman who doesn’t want to be confined by a house, but loves going into buildings.
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Supporters of the Portage Theater breathed a sigh of relief Thursday when it was announced a local church would withdraw their bid to acquire the 92-year-old cinema on Chicago’s northwest side. A hearing with the Zoning Board of Appeals had been scheduled for Friday, from which Chicago Tabernacle sought a special use permit to convert the theater into a house of worship. The Portage is known around Chicago for its Silent Film Festival and as the set for some scenes in Public Enemies, a 2009 film about bank-robber John Dillinger. It had become somewhat of an anchor for economic development in the Six Corners business district of its Portage Park neighborhood, after a 2006 renovation pulled the aging theater out of hard times. “Save the Portage” became a rallying cry around town when the church announced their plans in March. Roger Ebert and 45th Ward Alderman John Arena were among the many who flocked to the theater’s side. Its management applied for landmark status with the city in April. Chicago Tabernacle is reportedly in “final negotiations” for another site, potentially a defunct movie hall at 3231 N. Cicero Ave.
[ Quick Clicks> AN's guided tour of links from across the web. And beyond. ] Zigzag. In April 2009, the Virginia Department of Transportation installed a painted zigzag stripe where a road and a bike trail intersect. Wash Cycle reports that VDOT has since studied the effects of the experimental installation and determined the lines have improved safety and reduced speeds at the trail crossing. These zigzags common overseas, but could they be coming to a street corner near you? Distracted Walking? Better watch where you walk with those headphones. ABC reports that legislators in New York and Arkansas have proposed banning pedestrians from using cell phones or wearing headphones at crosswalks under penalty of a $100 fine. Proponents claim it will increase safety, but it seems to be a classic blame-the-pedestrian response to traffic fatalities. Any chance this will one day hit the books? Starchitecture? Well, sort of. With the Academy Awards right around the corner, Curbed rounded up a collection of design from this year's contenders including the decaying interiors in The King's Speech to the temple-like Inception dining room to Lowell, Mass.'s blue-collar homes in The Fighter. You might also remember AN's recent look at movie architecture. Back in '87. With the proliferation of shiny condo buildings across Manhattan, it's easy to forget the grittier ghost of New York past. EV Grieve uncovered a series of photos of the East Village from the late 1980s showing boarded and burned buildings in Alphabet City. State of the Rail. After last night's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., Transportation Nation takes a look at continued plans to criss-cross the nation with High Speed Rail. In his Speech, the President set a goal that 80 percent of the U.S. population would have access to High Speed Rail in 2036.