Synopsis: Bill Murray co-directed (along with Howard Franklin) this mixture of The Out-of-Towners and After Hours, concerning Grimm (Bill Murray), a frustrated city planner who is fed up with the corruption and venality of New York City. Getting together a couple of accomplices -- Phyllis (Geena Davis), who admires Grimm for his audacity, and Loomis (Randy Quaid), a follower to Grimm's leader since grade school -- Grimm decides to rob a bank, pocket the money, get out of town and take off to tropical splendor.
we just got done watching "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." they mention city planners. the line is something like, "A city planner would never put a playground next to a sewage plant."
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.
It’s a fact noted by critics (in other publications that would not likely draw accusations of a bias to the profession) that landscape architecture plays a significant role in the movie.
The [Jude Law] character, Will Francis, works at the at a firm Green Effect. The firm’s notable project in the film is a large-scale plan in King’s Cross, a transit hub fallen into squalor which has become a redevelopment site of historical proportions while spurring gentrification.
To better develop the identity of the [Jude] character and the firm, Anthony Minghella, who directed and wrote the screenplay for Breaking and Entering, wrote the following manifesto...
. . .
Keep in mind one atypical detail about landscape architect Will Francis: He hates flowers and plants and loves concrete.
Green Effect Manifesto
Green Effect is certainly not against nature, although we are accused of being against nature. Rather, we are against the fraudulent advocacy of nature, the misnaming of mediated space as natural, the mistaking of grass as nature, of green as nature. We are against decoration—the flowerbed, the plant, the lawn—those miniature gestures of appeasement which nature would not recognize. Nature is not tame, by definition, and there is no space in Britain or Europe that can be described without irony as natural. That a site is designated green space is already a gesture of control. It can be termed a national park or a wildlife sanctuary, its boundaries marked, its animal life monitored—Nature this way!
What Green Effect advocates is hardly modern. Nash was designing both internal and external spaces in the nineteenth century. The Regent’s Canal, Regent Street, and Regents Park are all illustrations of a coherent arrangement of private and public environments—elegant terraces grouped around the park, with its inner and outer circles. Regent’s Park is made, of course, a construct no more or less natural than the curving rows of stucco buildings. The confident harmonies, which develop from this marriage of house and environment, have direct and positive impact on those who inhabit them. It’s great to walk in the park and look at the facades; it’s great to look at the park from inside the buildings. These values are self-evident. The same is true of the Italian Piazza; its grandest expressions—in San Marco in Venice, the Piazza Navona in Rome—without a blade of grass, are as architectural, as pleasing, as defining as any building, as communal as any park. They say something about a culture in the way as our endless verges, our muddy borders, our clumps of bamboos, forlorn trees, and concrete flower beds speak volumes about our current society and its lack of respect for what happens to our citizens when they leave their front doors travelling to the glass boxes of their offices. A glance at the budgets for enclosed spaces and exterior spaces indicate society’s true valuation of our constructed environments.
Green Effect views the built landscape as an art, one which requires as much care as any structure and as much acknowledgement of design. We believe that there has to be more than a token recognition by architects that they contribute to an environment gestalt, that the choreography of bound and unbound space should be determined as a whole and not simply with the one determining the other—I’m here, fill in around me. Every large-scale urban project should employ landscape and building architects simultaneously, and Green Effect will only commit to projects where such a dynamic exists and where the possibility lies for the demands of landscape to genuinely effect the position and external characteristics of any structures. Where possible, Green Effect will design both. It will favor environment, it will insist that harmonies between the so-called male and female spaces have political impact, not least on crime but most of all, that respect and wit toward exterior space improves the quality of life of every citizen.
Green Effect Partnership. 2005
. . .Breaking and Entering is a picture of two utterly different worlds that overlap in place, but not in time. By day Law's office, set in the midst of the vast redevelopment site that is King's Cross, hums with the comfortable sense of entitlement of middle-class creatives. But at night it is overtaken by Nigerian cleaners and Kosovan crack dealers, who keep coming back to steal his computers.
Minghella's film is a timely reminder of how these two urban worlds depend on each other. But the conventional response of planners is to try to sweep the dark underbelly of the city away. To do that is to risk the collateral damage that will destroy the very qualities that make a city work. It attempts to turn a city into a village, which is no place for the disposed and the ambitious, desperate to escape from poverty.
The area known as the King's Cross railway lands is a gash in London's fabric that has never healed since the canals and railways tore into it at the start of the 19th century. It reflects the reality of city life in the most brutal and extreme form. Hookers and addicts share the pavements with commuters, skirting the vast swathe of canals and sheds trapped between the Euston Road and the residential streets of Camden Town. King's Cross is currently undergoing a paroxysm of development that irresistibly recalls the feverish transformation of this very piece of land portrayed by Charles Dickens in Dombey and Son
Dickens captured the surrealistic dislocation of houses left stranded by railway embankments, and roads that lead nowhere. Almost the same thing is happening again. The huge glass and white steel box awkwardly tacked on to the back of Victorian St Pancras, designed to handle the high-speed rail link to Paris and Brussels, is nearing completion. The new station represents a construction project on a scale that matches that of the Victorians - if not their confidence, or their architectural ambition. Negotiating the area, you thread your way through new viaducts that erupt from the mud, past tower cranes and ancient warehouses and gasometers. The landscape is by turns pastoral and derelict.
Breaking and Entering is a powerful portrait of urban life as it really is. But it is already something of a period piece. Minghella has captured the last days of a King's Cross that is already passing. Planning permission was last week granted for a massive redevelopment of an area larger than Canary Wharf that will complete what the new channel tunnel rail link has started. The gash in London's fabric will finally be healed.
The plans for the new King's Cross are the product of an architectural team that includes both mainstream modernists Allies and Morrison, and the architectural fundamentalist Demetri Porphyrios. They are an unlikely pair. Porphyrios is best known for building authentic gothic university buildings, such as the Magdalen College Grove Quadrangle in Oxford, in solid, load-bearing stone. Allies and Morrison design polite glass and steel offices for the BBC. The project is being led by Argent, a company run by Roger Madelin, a developer with a penchant for motorcycle jackets. He worked with the same architects on the Brindley Place area of Birmingham, where they stitched together canalside warehouses with a mix of offices, shops and cafes that carefully avoids iconic statements or grand gestures. After six years of work by Madelin and his team, Camden Council has said yes to a scheme that takes a very similar approach. All it needs now is Ken Livingstone's approval.
Even though it's hard to see much of a future here for Minghella's Kosovans, it's difficult to argue with the mix of uses that Argent has in mind. One area will be devoted to corporate offices. A cultural zone will have the new Central St Martins school of art as its focus, while the northern part of the site will be devoted to housing. Less convincing is the form of the scheme that combines dense urban blocks with disappointing piazzas and parades that do their best to pretend that this is a slice of traditional city, rather than the massive transformation that it really is.
Argent's architects are apparently driven by the belief that London is a gently haphazard city that has always grown in fits and starts, and avoided the grand gesture. That is a misreading of London which despite its reputation for informality, has usually been able to rise to an occasion. John Nash's Regent's Park was heroic enough to inspire Napoleon III to remodel Paris, just as it was the London Underground that once set the pace for the Paris metro. It's hard not to feel a certain regret that the last attempt to redevelop the same plot of King's Cross land - a huge, oval green the size of Regent's Park and ringed by skyscrapers, was killed off by the 1990s property crash.
In the last quarter of a century, London has got out of the habit of seeing that such bold strategies are possible. As it is now, King's Cross is a mud-splattered, anarchic mess that reveals the shifting tectonic plates of urban life. The new King's Cross that Argent is planning will be a polite, comfortable place for commuters to drink latte on their way from the train to the office. But a city in the sense that Jude Law's tormented character would understand, it will never be...
In a Seinfeld episode, ...
The short-lived sitcom "Men Behaving Badly" from the '90s featured a very unctuous, obnoxious next-door neighbor character trying too woo a pretty girl. In one scene he's just finishing up an obviously very long and very boring story, and the poor girl's eyes are glazed over.
He ends with: "And THAT'S how I became an urban planner."