See Also: FILMS ON HOUSING CRASH 2008
Documentary 2005 NR 1hr 15m. This documentary examines the uphill battle that many people, including a poor single mother, face in chasing the American dream of home ownership.
TEDTalks: Building Wonder
Documentary 2011 NR 17 Episodes. Architects across the globe create new construction forms for a world where sustainability and design push every boundary. Sharing their ingenious work, these experts reflect on historical spaces and the future of building design.
Documentary Series 2006 NR. About the environmental impact of buildings. This PBS documentary series explores the dynamic ideas of the innovators and artisans who strive to advance technological progress while raising awareness about “green” issues in building and reducing damage to the environment by buildings. Among the subjects profiled are architects who use sustainable materials, cities that welcome alternative energies and worldwide efforts to reduce traffic and pollution. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman narrate.
Tiny: A Story About Living Small
Documentary 2013 NR 1hr1m. A young couple with no construction experience attempts to build a tiny house in this documentary that contemplates shifting American values. The message is not about the square footage of your house, but the quality of the life you lead, and what makes you happy. It showed me that I do not want to live in a tiny house — I can live in a small house but not a tiny house. I think living simple and getting rid of things you really don’t need is important, but I’m just not ready for extreme small living and bare minimum. Interesting concept, but uninteresting delivery. Not gonna lie, I thought this was going to be a documentary about people with dwarfism. This is what happens when you don’t read the synopsis.
Designing a Great Neighborhood
Documentary 2004 NR 53m. Witness the birth of a state-of-the-art green neighborhood in this documentary that follows architects and home buyers as they work together to design and construct the Wild Sage Cohousing Community, a zero-emissions residential development. With a strong emphasis on solar energy, energy-efficient technology and adjusting occupant behavior, these impressive new homes function without the use of fossil fuels.
Sprawling From Grace
The Consequences of Suburbanization
Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 22m. Over the years, Americans have spread across the country in waves of movement from cities to suburbia. This thought-provoking documentary explores the negative aspects of this situation, especially the dependence on automobiles and foreign oil. A host of prominent figures — including former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Michael Dukakis — discuss innovative ways to build cities and our need for new energy strategies.
Escape from Suburbia
Documentary 2007 NR 1hr 34m. After condemning America’s oil dependency in his 2004 documentary The End of Suburbia, filmmaker Gregory Greene here addresses the solutions that will avert catastrophe, outlining the issues actively moving the energy crisis from theory to reality. Spurred to action by the realities of peak oil, Greene focuses his camera on individuals across the country brave enough to challenge and instigate their communities into serious change.
The End of Suburbia
Documentary 2004 NR 90 minutes. This provocative documentary examines the history of suburban life and the wisdom of this distinctly American way of life. A post-World War II concept, suburbia attracted droves of people, giving rise to sprawl and all that comes with it — good and bad. How has the environment been affected by this lifestyle, and is it sustainable? Director Gregory Greene dares to ask all the tough questions.
India: Design Like You Give a Damn
Building Sustainable Communities, Not Trophy Homes
Documentary Frontline / World 2008. Reporter Singeli Agnew travels to Tamil Nadu, India, to see the work of Architects for Humanity, a nonprofit that links local communities in need with a network of architects excited to help.
China: Green Dreams
A Not So Model Village
Documentary Frontline / World 2008. The village of Huangbaiyu in rural northeast China was supposed to be a model for energy-conscious design. But the joint China-U.S. project to initially build 400 sustainable homes went awry.
House of Sand and Fog
Drama 2003 R 126 minutes. When her husband dumps her, the emotionally unstable Kathy Nicolo (Jennifer Connelly) finds her house in the California hills seized in foreclosure and put up for public auction by local authorities, including a sympathetic sheriff’s deputy (Ron Eldard). An exiled Iranian air force colonel (Ben Kingsley) buys Kathy’s “dream” house at a bargain price for his family. But Kathy is obsessed with getting it back.
Documentary 2002 NR 98 minutes. In this sardonic but sobering exposé, activist filmmakers Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold reveal the potentially toxic effects of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in everything from cars to water mains to toys. Armed with a piece of blue vinyl siding, Helfand and Gold head to Louisiana — America’s vinyl-manufacturing capital — and to Italy, where bigwigs from a PVC-producing company stand accused of manslaughter in a landmark case.
Life as a House
Drama 2001 R 124 minutes. Faced with a sobering diagnosis of terminal cancer, George (Kevin Kline) decides to construct a beautiful new house on his land overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while at the same time trying to connect with his estranged son (Hayden Christensen). Kristin Scott Thomas and Mary Steenburgen co-star in this moving dramedy that speaks eloquent volumes about the fragility — and resilience — of the human condition.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Drama 1992 R 100 minutes. Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris and Alan Arkin chew the words of David Mamet’s script (based on his own stage play) as a group of Chicago real estate salesmen vying for the best “leads” at a small firm that sells property in resort areas.
Drama 1990 R 102 minutes. Young couple Patty and Drake (Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine) buy their dream house in San Francisco and rent out the ground floor apartment to Carter Hayes, who seems to be an ideal tenant — until he stops paying rent, refuses to leave and barricades himself in the apartment. Michael Keaton, in a performance of creepy intensity, plays the sociopathic Carter in this tense nail-biter.
The Money Pit
Comedy 1986 PG 91 minutes. An up-and-coming entertainment lawyer and his yuppie girlfriend set out to renovate their dream house, only to be plagued by her ex-husband, an unscrupulous construction firm and the house’s crumbling structure. The Money Pit works. It works because it takes a homebuyer’s biggest fear and turns it into a mocking, biting, hilarious reality. Couple Walter and Anna, (Hanks and Long) decide to buy a home together, and they find one that has an “anxious to sell” owner, and the price seems too good to be true, and it is. After they purchase their dream home, first, little things start to go wrong, unfortunately, the little problems turn into huge problems, including hiring some shady looking men to fix the house, of course, they say it will only take two weeks. Oh, are Walter and Anna in for a surprise. The shape of the house begins to reflect their relationship, as the stress of the cost, and work, and the house takes it’s toll, and their relationship begins to fall apart too. Will either the house or their relationship be fixed? This is a remake of “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” and carries the same message: always make sure you know exactly what you’re getting.
Comedy 1981 John Belushi as Earl Keese is a low-key, ineffectual, middle-class suburbanite with a wife, Enid, and teenage daughter, Elaine. Earl’s peaceful, dreary life changes when a younger couple, Vic and Ramona, move next door. Vic and Ramona both impose themselves on the Keese household; Earl is infuriated by the loud, gung-ho Vic, and flustered by the sly and seductive Ramona. Earl is frustrated by his inability to handle Vic and Ramona, and the way that he can never come up with absolute proof that the couple are doing anything wrong on purpose. Enid and Elaine are no help, and over the course of one night, the antagonism between Earl and his new neighbors escalates into suburban warfare. Earl begins to question his sanity, and the sanity of his wife and daughter. He realizes that his new neighbors have provided him with the most excitement he’s had in years, and that they can give him a promising future out of suburbia and away from his family. In the film’s closing scene, Earl joins Vic and Ramona, leaving his family behind and his house on fire.
Drama Series 1975 NR 6 discs. Tom Good (Richard Briers) and his wife, Barbara (Felicity Kendal), decide to forego the luxuries and stresses of modern-day life in order to be self-sufficient and live off the land — all without leaving their comfortable suburban home in this beloved British sitcom. The Goods’ stodgy neighbors, Jerry (Paul Eddington) and Margo (Penelope Keith), aren’t thrilled about having the neighborhood turned into farm country, and conflicts often arise.
Stage Play1971 NR 60 minutes. Racial tensions come out of the woodwork when an upper-class white couple (Jane Wyatt and Andrew Duggan) puts their suburban home on the market and the listing draws a pair of equally well-to-do African American buyers from Harlem. Fielder Cook directs this Broadway staging of playwright Arkady Leokum’s exploration of lingering racial prejudice in 1970s America. Cicely Tyson and Raymond St. Jacques also star
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 23m. Archival footage and interviews shed light on the legacy of the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, an urban renewal project that ended in failure.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Comedy 1948 NR 94 minutes. Sophisticated New Yorkers Jim and Muriel Blandings (Cary Grant and Myrna Loy) leave their jaded city life for a dreamy getaway in rural Connecticut. But when their first house isn’t to their liking, the Blandings start over from scratch — with disastrous results. As local tradesmen increase their work rates and try to cash in on the recent transplants, Grant’s advertising executive job may be on the line if he can’t think of a slogan to sell ham. Anyone considering moving whether from an apartment or a house should watch this movie to understand the pitfalls of that next “dream” abode. It is a wonderful “how to” movie better than any Bob Villa program for the neophyte. In today’s world of MacMansions it might be even more appropriate than in the 40’s when it was produced. Just remember contractors love “change orders”. Anyone who has built or bought a house will relate to the trials and tribulations of the process. It truly stands the test of time and is watchable again and again. This is a solid 4 star movie and could be 5 if it wasn’t dated in appearance.
It Was a Wonderful Life
Documentary 1993 NR 84 minutes. A growing number of middle-class women are forced to live out of their cars following a divorce, job loss or a long illness. They’re clean, educated, articulate, and rarely receive public assistance, as they struggle to survive one day at a time. This film chronicles the hardships and infrequent triumphs of six homeless women. I expected to see a documentary about bag ladies who talk to themselves, etc., but this is all about people just like myself. It introduces us to a new sub-genre of unfortunates, “The Invisible Homeless,” so-called because most of their acquaintances do not realize they are homeless. Looking at them at work you’d never know they were homeless. See Full Review
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
Frank Lloyd Wright
Documentary 1998 NR 153 minutes. Often touted as the most influential and important American architect of all time, Frank Lloyd Wright is the subject of this acclaimed documentary by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns (Baseball, The Civil War). Rare footage and illuminating interviews, along with an in-depth look at Wright’s body of work from his 92 years, come together to bring his unforgettable — and frequently turbulent — story to life.
The Homes of Frank Lloyd Wright
Documentary 1998 TV-G 50 minutes. This edition of the series from the A&E; Channel gives you an inside look at the homes created by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright designed many structures throughout the country, but the homes he built for himself are widely considered to be his crowning glory and truly representative of his unique style and vision. This vision and creativity are on display as you tour these magnificent dwellings.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater
Documentary 2005 NR 60 minutes. Learn the history of Fallingwater — the iconic Pennsylvania home custom-designed for the Kaufmann family by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 — in this fascinating documentary film. Highlights include interviews with Fallingwater director Lynda Waggoner and architectural historian Richard Cleary, who explain Wright’s concept of “organic architecture” and the qualities that make the structure so exceptional.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
Documentary 2007 NR. Take a journey through legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West — an architectural masterpiece housing his home, his studio and a school of architecture in the Arizona desert — with this documentary and interactive tour. The longtime director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, discusses Wright’s life and career, exploring the ways in which Taliesin West reflects his values of organic architecture.
See Also: FILMS ON HOUSING CRASH 2008
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