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Thread: Movies with or about urban planners/urban planning

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    Movies with or about urban planners/urban planning

    As I was watching last year an episode of a popular american tv show, that the first role is a structural civil engineer I was wondering if there is a movie or tv show or something that has to do with an urban planner for key role or just for urban planning.
    I think that it would be interesting. Does anyone has an idea about that?

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Who Framed Roger Rabbit comes to mind. Any others?

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    I had a couple of professors back in college use movies an example of planning, usually more on the social aspects of planning though.

    One of them was the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    Another was Metropolis, a 1920s silent movie.

    It seems like I remember saving a list that they had come up with, I will have to see if I can find it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    There's a great episode of Seinfeld where a kid applying for a scholarship wants to be a city planner. IIRC, the episode includes the line: 'The dumbest guy in my fraternity flunked out of dental school and became an architect.' It's the same episode where we learn that there's a street gang named after Martin Van Buren -- 'and they're just as mean as he was'.

    Anyway, not a movie, but it's all I could come up with at the moment.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Disney:
    • Documentary on the Car of Tomorrow: talked about cars and the future of transportation planning: very hokey.
    • EPCOT (Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow) was a masterplan for an entire city.

    Golden Girls. Blanche wants to build a hot tub. Building inspector finds out all of the girls are living under one roof without a boarding license. I vaguely remember something about Betty White talking about primary dwellings or setbacks.

    Back to the Future All three movies look at the historical progression of development: downtown, not yet-built subdivisions, re-use of buildings.

    Jumanji The fast decline of a bustling town after the biggest employer, Parish Shoes, goes out of business. Has some similarities with saving Callahan Autos in Tommy Boy

    Truman Show : A movie about Seaside, FL!!! I wonder if all new urbanist communities have that many hidden cameras and a wave machine? Maybe Ed Harris' character was really Andres Duany. Hmmmm....

    Miracle on 34th Street. A movie about Levittown!!! Isn't it the American Dream to move from a glamarous rent-controlled apartment on Central Park West/Columbus Circle to a mediocre split level Cape Cod in the middle of No Where, USA?

    I probably have a few other "urban planning movies" . Will add more later. And no, I am proudly NOT a movie junkie.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 08 Oct 2008 at 6:13 PM.

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by strumpeace View post
    There's a great episode of Seinfeld where a kid applying for a scholarship wants to be a city planner. IIRC, the episode includes the line: 'The dumbest guy in my fraternity flunked out of dental school and became an architect.' It's the same episode where we learn that there's a street gang named after Martin Van Buren -- 'and they're just as mean as he was'.

    Anyway, not a movie, but it's all I could come up with at the moment.
    Actually in that episode, George wants to give the scholarship to that boy because like him, he was a c student and emulated him in high school and he wanted to be an architect. At the Board of Directors meeting for the foundation named after Susan, the boy stood up and said he no longer wanted to be an architect, but be a city a planner and told them "why would i want to build just one building when i can design a city!" The light bulb went off in my head and i too decided i should check out what city planning was all about..

    Recently i was watching saturday morning cartoons with my daughter and she likes this show called "horseland" on cbs (yes they still exists). It is about these young kids who ride horses. Well the episode entitled "new development" had all the following elements rolled into one package: NIMBYism, endangered species, destruction of property, calling in of the press under false pretenses and attractive looking developers all rolled into a 30 minute cartoon intended for young children. I kid you not. The show had a premise where the horse riders where fearful that a new development would ruin their meadow and were set to stop it any cost including deflating tires from tractors, releasing a gecko that "looked" like an endangered species and come to find out that the development would be an eco-friendly "sustainable" development with solar energy, preservation of open space and a parking lot on the highway no less requiring visitors to hike to the resort. If this episode wasn't planning at its best, i don't know what is.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Chinatown with Jack Nicholson focuses on land and water politics and corruption in 1930s Los Angeles.

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Bill Murray plays a city planner that dresses up like a clown and robs a bank in Quick Change.

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    maudit anglais
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    We've actually been here before: Previous Thread

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Almost forgot:

    In Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: the stage in Las Venturas where you have to steal the hotel building plans, you have to go through the Las Venturas Building and Planning Department. I shot the entire department to death...after stealing the plans of course. I don't know if you consider that suicide or not?
    Last edited by Raf; 08 Oct 2008 at 7:04 PM. Reason: added info
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Numb3rs-tv show

    Alan Eppes is a former L.A. City planner, a widower and the father of both Charlie and Don Eppes. He is portrayed by Judd Hirsch.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner View post
    We've actually been here before: Previous Thread
    On which thread should we post?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I finally thought of one --

    Cars -- the Disney/Pixar movie.

    There's a great discussion about what happened to the city when the new interstate was built.

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    Over the Hedge (with RJ the Raccoon and all his friends) pokes fun at suburbia.

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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by eric89 View post
    Over the Hedge (with RJ the Raccoon and all his friends) pokes fun at suburbia.
    Any (attitude) resemblance between the Over The Hedge's RJ and the Cyburbian RJ is purely coincidental.

    except maybe when it comes to hottubing. (previous postings)
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    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    In the movie Singles, the Campbell Scott character is a transportation planner in Seattle, and his rapid rail idea gets shot down.

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    I haven't seen it, but The Unforeseen is a documentary about a subdivision in Texas, land use politics and the essence of good design. My local APA chapter sent an email promoting the movie with the trailer.

    The NY Times said Robert Redford was too big of an influence in the film, creating a bias

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    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    There was an episode during the first season of the The Sopranos where Christopher's girlfriend, Adrianna (I think he offed her in a later season) wanted to get into the music business and tried to get in with a gangsta rapper named Master P. At one point in the episode, Master P reveals that he has a degree in City Planning.
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    Is also great
    And would suffice.

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    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Not a movie, but one of my favorite episodes of the television show Law & Order has a murderer with a degree in city planning. He is presented as being very intelligent, but mentally unstable. He chooses to defend himself in court and not to allow his history of mental health problems to be entered into evidence, so people do not discount the validity of his ideas. Jack McCoy says that he is "too insane to know he's insane". He's found guilty, despite attempts by his brother to introduce evidence of his mental disease or defect during the trial. That evidence is finally introduced during sentencing, and is observed by the jury when he loses control in the courtroom upon its introduction.
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    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hullcorey View post
    I had a couple of professors back in college use movies an example of planning, usually more on the social aspects of planning though.

    One of them was the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    Another was Metropolis, a 1920s silent movie.

    It seems like I remember saving a list that they had come up with, I will have to see if I can find it.
    I actually took an undergrad class called "Planning In Film" or something to that effect. We watched a different movie every week and had to write papers comparing and contrasting them.

    I remember Metropolis.
    We also watched Blade Runner, which i.m.d.b. describes "The city ... is a huge, sprawling, bleak vision of the future."
    I'll look for my notebook and give you more...

    I also voted for Back to the Future as our end, student chosen, film. I lost.

    What about Erin Brokovitz? That's about the big corporation polluting the world, but also argueably about innapropriate adjacent uses and such...
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    As RandomPlanner alludes to, it may be worth mentioning films that depict a future vision of the city but do not make it the main focus of the plot. A few that come to mind are the Fifth Element (23rd Century NYC), Judge Dredd (also NYC), I Robot (mid 21st century Chicago) and Minority Report (mid 21st century Washington DC).

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    OK...so I haven't seen this movie myself, but my boss has. The latest Saw movie...I think it is Saw 5. Three of the characters that get trapped in the building and are forced to play the "games" are:

    A Developer (you might say that's appropriate)
    A Building Inspector

    and.......


    A City Planner

    I know...it's not a movie about planning, but when was the last time you saw a movie where one of the main characters is a City Planner???

  23. #23
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    From a charming bit of cultural polution: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

    Character Darald, when discussing bedroom anatomy issues and his new wife on their honeymoon:

    Let me just say that if God was a city planner he would not put a playground next to a sewage system!

    Not really a topical planning issue, but funny none-the-less.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  24. #24
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Wasn't the central plot in Disney's The Love Bug a battle between some little guys and an ego-maniacal developer and his equally audacious proposed building project?

    Mike

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    "The Unforeseen" (2007) is available at Netflix.

    There have also been six major media reviews of the film quoted there - mostly positive.

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