A slow, subtle film that requires you to actively read between the lines
I am not going to recap the synopsis of the film.
The architecture in this film is not beautiful, it is sterile and dead, and the humanity is peeking through the cracks in it. "You can do better than this," John Cho's character says at one point to Haley Lu Richardson's (who gives an excellent performance here as in Edge of Seventeen). "Than what?" she replies. Than what, indeed. The conceit that young people must pursue distant dreams, that 'Columbus' is not worth living for, let alone in, is the tragedy of it all. All that architecture was there for the people living in this town, yet the town itself is the object for the girl to flee from. The ending is a tragedy. It is a reflection on the American hatred for a proletarian life, and the refusal to celebrate proletarian living in art. Even while everything is happening around her, she is attracted to the dead and the sterile. It is Cho's character, who has already been consumed by this world, who learns a lesson in valuing his father.
Really shows the perspective of some local activists living in Ferguson of what the Mike Brown protests were all about. There is not huge detail into the Mike Brown shooting. It's more about raw footage of street protests, police reactions, some town halls, and so on. It really shows how the protesters were not armed and were faced with a much more weaponized police response. The police clearly are not a part of the community and one wonders why the officers appear so alien from the people they are policing. The police are portrayed as a failed institution. There are some brief news clips interspersed in. Most of it is just amateur video on the streets. There is a glimpse into the personal life of some of the activists.
At one point, one of the activists said that you can burn down a convenience store yet it can be rebuilt, however all the magicians in the world can't bring back a dead person. Therefore, the real question of violence should be: was anyone hurt? This encapsulates the overall theme of the documentary which is that people come before everything. Clearly the Mike Brown killing became a rallying point but he was also a symbol for much deeper grievances, which is the community didn't feel the police force treated them as people. You won't hear much from the other side in this documentary but it doesn't pretend to be that.
A lighthearted humorous escape with some gorgeous looking people, some nostalgia, and a lot of wit. A family of four--father, mother, adult daughter and teenage daughter, living in New York City. Deals with themes of fidelity, secrets and commitment. Some things they leave you hanging for a while about. See it for a fun time.
I do not think this film did justice to the rich subject matter the filmmakers tackled. It was very vague and repetitive, with the same shots of buildings being torn down over and over again, and the same lines being repeated by the narrator several times over. Similarly vague lines are quoted from Jacobs' book. Unfortunately the parts they chose that were specific, such as the need to have 'eyes on the street' at all times of day, are not as relevant in the modern day, as there are so many forms of entertainment that people are not likely to sit on their porch or at their window looking out onto the street, even if it is active. They are more likely lying in bed writing a review on IMDb or watching Netflix. However, most of the exposition of Jacobs' ideas don't even rise to that level of specificity. As a result, the viewer barely knows more about Jane Jacobs' criticisms walking out of the movie than going in. The source of Robert Moses' power wasn't explained. Part of the film contains a smug attack on Le Corbusier only to correct itself latter when they said his ideas were misrepresented. They try to jawbone some feminism at moments but never really pursue the idea.
The film gives the impression Jacobs won (in America, at least), but ignores that high rise apartments and condos are as popular as ever. The lively "street" that Jacobs defended is not present in these new developments. Communities have migrated online. So did Le Corb win in the end after all?
Given the high reviews this received, I expected better. It did show Jacobs' beginnings as a journalist. And there were a few interesting clips of Moses justifying himself. The note he wrote after reading Death and Life was interesting. It shows he did in fact read the book. However, both her and Moses deserve a better documentary.