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Planning Movies (Merged with Planning Related Movies and with Cities and Movies)

Chet

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Moderator Note:

Lately a number of threads are rehashing old ones. I guess good ideas never die. Mods will try to merge them as time permits.
 

Markitect

Cyburbian
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110
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jordanb said:
I don't recall them ever being in Wisconsion. Besides, Wisconsion has nether country nor western!

I didn't like how they portrayed the L though. I've been in cafes and shops under it and apartments right next to it, and it's not at all a nuisance. Everyone I know who lives next to it loves the convenience.
While the movie doesn't technically portray parts of the final car chase as being in Wisconsin, the most memorable scene from the chase was actually filmed in Milwaukee...where Elwood backflips the Bluesmobile over the pursuing Illinois Nazis who then fly off the edge of the unfinished elevated freeway ramp. The film is then interspliced with footage of the Nazis little Pinto "falling" in front of the Chicago skyline (some of which is special effects (the close-ups where you can see the passengers) and some of it is footage of a real Pinto being dropped from a helicopter in an indiustrial area within Chicago).

The ramp was built in anticipation of creating a freeway loop around Downtown Milwaukee, but the segment of the loop they were supposed to connect with were never built due to neighborhood protest and lack of money. The ramps dead-ended in mid-air for years, as seen in the movie, until they were finally reconfigured to connect with surface level streets below the elevated freeway.

Notable Milwaukee landmarks in that scene include the Milwaukee County War Memorial (visible in the background as the Bluesmobile is teetering on the edge of the ramp) and the First Wisconsin Building (now the USBank Center--visible as the car does its backflip).
 

Markitect

Cyburbian
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110
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6
Another good addition to the "Planning Movies" list would be the Back to the Future Trilogy with its various incarnations of Hill Valley throughout the space-time continuum.

We see Hill Valley in 1885 (Part III) as a dusty Northern California town of the Old West. The local courthouse (to become a local icon in the future) is under construction and the Courthouse Square is just beginning to take shape. The under-construction railroad trestle is out in the middle of nowhere; only to be swallowed with suburban development (the fashionable "Hilldale housing development") one hundred years later.

We see Hill Valley in 1955 (Part I and II) as a place with a small town atmosphere. The Courthouse Square is fully developed and active with many shops, offices, and a park in the center of town (complete with a war memorial). Two miles outside of town, a farm field is being graded to make way for the Lyon Estates subdivision (note the nearby billboard advertises "Live in the home of tomorrow...Today! "), which will eventually fill with ranch houses, and development catches up to the leap-frog development site. Old Man Peabody's Twin Pines Ranch is even further out in the boonies, on a site which will eventually become Twin Pines Mall (and Lone Pine Mall, after history is altered after Marty McFly mows down one of Peabody's two pine trees with the time mahcine). Doc Brown's stately mansion and garage/laboratory occupy several acres, only to be sold off to developers after his mansion burns down. He keeps the garage/laboratory though, and permanently moves into the building--which is surrounded by strip development by 1985.

In 1985 (Part I), we see the once vibrant Courthouse Square has fallen into neglect as a result of the mall being built at the edge of town on Old Man Peabody's ranch. Many of the business relocated to the mall (note some signs in the storefronts and bus benches advertising their relocation), and some new undesirable businessed have moved in. The Essex Theater has become a porn theater ("XXX...Open 24 hrs!"), the Town Theater has become a storefront church, the stationery store has become an adult bookstore, and the Westen Auto Store has become the campaign headquarters for the re-election of Mayor Goldie Wilson (who proclaimed he was "going to clean up this town" when Marty inadvertenly inspired him to become mayor back in 1955). The Courthouse building still stands, but the court activities have moved elsewhere--it is now home to the Department of Social Services. The park with the war memorial in the center of the Square has been paved over into a parking lot. As mentioned before, Lyon Estates (Marty's subdivision) is built out with ranch homes and Doc's garage/lab/home is now surrounded by strip development. The newly constructed Hilldale subdivision on the far fringes of town--which was once out in the middle of nowhere--is the trendy place to live (note the billboard advertising "If you lived here, you'd be home by now!" and the subdivision sign nameplate "Hilldale - The Address of Success") (Part III).

In 2015 (Part II), Hill Valleey has changed dramatically once again. The once active-then-dead Courhtouse Square has been completely revitalized. Once-empty storefronts are active again, the seedy businesses are gone, the parking lot in the center of town has been replaced with a new park (complete with a pond), people are out and about. The Department of Social Services has moved out of the old Courthouse building and has been converted into a downtown mall (note the sign on the building "Hill Valley Courthouse Mall" (makes you wonder what became of Lone Pine Mall?)). The once-fashionable sparkly new suburban Hilldale development has become run-down over the past 30 years--devolved into a slum of the future (note grafitti on sign "Hilldale - The Address of Suckers").

Of course, then there's Hill Valey in 1985-A, the alternate version of history that was created under the influence of Biff Tannen, in which the whole world has basically gone to hell (Part II). The Courthouse has been converted into the Biff Tannen Muesum and Biff's Pleasure Paradise hotel/casino. Pretty much all of the businesses are strip clubs and porn theaters, the local cafe has been turned into a toxic reclamation plant, and numerous smokestacks belch thick fumes over the city. Hill Valley HIgh School burned down six years ago. Lyon Estates is a run-down slum, the residents of which are terrorized by Biff's company (note all the "For Sale" signs on nearly all the houses on the street). There are some more great references in the various newspapers seen during 1985-A:
* from a paper dated sometime in 1979 - "Hill Valley GAMBLING LEGALISED: City Council Approves Tannen Initiative by One Vote Margin" and "Toxic Waste Site Chosen by Shopping Mall"
* from a paper with an unknown date - a picture of Biff outside Biffco Enterprises' Nuclear Power Plant (note the cow grazing in the field in which the nuclear plant sits)
* from a paper dated May 23, 1983 - "Nixon to seek Fifth Term - Vows to End Vietnam War by 1985", "Hill Valley Pollution Alert," Biffco to Build New Dioxin Plant"

Also notice that throughout the years, many businesses or families operate similar types of establishments in the same locations. The transportation service/repair business is represented by Doc Brown's blacksmith shop in 1885 (shoeing horses, fixing wagons), by the Texaco service station in 1955 (complete with full service, uniformed attendants), by the modernized Texaco station in 1985, and the multi-level Texaco station/convenience store in 2015 (completely automated by robots and electronics)--all on the exact same spot. The Palace Saloon of 1885, Lou's Cafe in 1955, Lou's Aerobic Fitness Center in 1985 (perhaps so Hill Valley residents could work off all the weight they gained eating at Lou's Cafe in the past?), and finally the retro-themed Cafe '80s in 2015--not only is the same corner of the town square used, but the same building is used in each time period. The Statler family rented horses and buckboards in 1885, sold Studebakers in 1955, Toyotas in 1985, and Pontiacs in 2015 (reflects a shift from American-made cars of yesteryear to the influence of the foreign manufacturers in the 1970s/80s). The Essex Theater building is under construction in 1885 (perhaps as a community/live stage theater), a normal movie theater in 1955 (playing a Ronald Regan movie), a porn theater in 1985, and back to a normal movie theater in 2015 as the Holomax ("normal" by 2015 standards, meaning it shows holographic movies (note the advertisements for Jaws 19 - "'This time it's really, really personal!' Directed by Max Spielberg" [who really is Steven's son])).

It is pretty clear that Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale really did their homework when writing these movies. They have mentioned in interviews how they wanted changes in fictional Hill Valley to reflect the changes real life towns have experienced over the years (screenwriter Gale specifically mentions how the "mall was built out in the boonies and killed off all the businesses in downtown" in one interview), and they come up with some good interpretations of the future too (such as the revitalization of downtown districts, even with small cities).

And you thought they were just movies about jumping through time in a modified DeLorean!
 

garethace

Cyburbian
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137
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I will definetly check out Back to the Future again. I mean there are probably alot more films right under my nose that deal with planning issues too, only i have just been too blind to see them staring me in the face.

I probably would not have even 'noticed' the fountain scene at the end of Oceans Eleven, had i not seen the Discovery Channel documentary on El Arab, or something HOtel at Dubai, with its wonderful fountains.

I will try and keep an eye out for movies in the future, which i think capture something of the place. My tutor in college always spoke of Fellini films, having spent a year doing her Masters in Urban Planning over there in Italy. I think 'Dear Diary' is a nice movie for any Planner, architect or urban designer to consider watching.

Apart from anything else, it is a good laugh.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
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6,544
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I just saw another "planning related movie" a few days ago: Old School. A guy rents a nice old house next to a University, but the Dean gets the City to zone it for academic related uses... so of course they have to start a fraternity. Of course in real life they probably would have been grandfathered in and wouldn't need to convert the use immediately (or at least there would be a significant amortization period)... but hey, it's Hollywood. :)

Will Farrell is pretty funny in this movie, and Vince Vaughn reprises his Swingers dry misogyny as a dad this time. Not bad for a rental, I guess.
 

garethace

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Old School, name does ring a bell. I will be sure to check that out.

The Richard Dreyfuss series on TV, where he is a college professor is well made i think. I don't think there are very many movies or TV series made which capture the essence of campus towns well.

I think 'A beautiful mind' did somewhat capture the campus environment a bit, as did 'Shadowlands' with Anthony Hopkins in Cambridge.

A movie which did capture the rough type of environment of early 20C America was A River runs through it. The contrast between one brother 'who travels all the ways east to go to college at Dartmouth'. WHile the other goes to Helena and becomes a journalist, boozer and scraper.

I love the Band of Brothers series on TV, which documents the lives of Easy company. I just watched the episode, where they are 'relaxing in Germany' just before going into Berlin, but before they discover the horrors of the camps. A bit contemporary now, given the recent events in Iraq.

The Iraq War seems a long time ago now doesn't it? Even though it was just a couple of months.
 

jordanb

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Band of Brothers was great. I hope movies like that and Saving Private Ryan will help people get over the "romantic" fascination we have with war.

The Iraq War seems a long time ago now doesn't it? Even though it was just a couple of months.
Yeah, and american soldiers are still dying almost every day (two yesterday, I believe, and eight wounded?).
 
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nerudite said:

Vince Vaughn reprises his Swingers dry misogyny as a dad this time. Not bad for a rental, I guess.
Ear Muffs ON!

We rented it this weekend also and I really really enjoyed it. But then, I just LOOOOOVE Vince Vaughn.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
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I have been thinking along the vein of Futuristic urban visions...

Tom Cruise, Minority Report, Matrix. . .

What is that movie with Arnold in it, where he is cloned? I mean that movie brings in the whole argument for automated clean car transport using, "Eddie Taxi drivers".

Sliders is another very interesting series on TV, where the team travel to different realities. I remember one episode, where 'Not taking Drugs' was illegal.

I remember in another one, they did cult religions and so on. Very interesting concepts.

Perhaps my favourite Planning movie of all though, would have to be a little known Tom Clancy movie called 'Net Force'. Which describes the whole thing of policing the net etc.
 

Trail Nazi

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If I remember correctly, there was an episode of Pinky and the Brain or it may have been Animaniacs (a combination episode - 1/2 the show was one cartoon and the other half the other show), where there was a tornado blowing through town so they quickly cut to a control room where they are monitoring the path of the tornado. The people in the control room paniced because there were no mobile home parks in the path of the storm like there is supposed to be, so they moved one there to get obliterated by the tornado.
 

Miles Ignatius

Cyburbian
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Planning Movies?

How about "Poltergeist?" A planned Southern California stucco & red tile roofed utopian community consumes itself. Doesn't the male lead (Craig T. Hall) sell the "view lot to Purgatory?'
 

garethace

Cyburbian
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How about small towns and the military:

as in 'Outbreak' with Dustin Hoffmann, Rene Russo, Cubba Gooding Jnr and Kevin Spacey.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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"The Russians are Coming. The Russians are Coming" was filmed in my home town of Ft. Bragg. A small town in coastal California. The submarine was made of styrafoam painted gray.
 

garethace

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Has anyone here ever seen a film called The Iomega Man with Charlton Heston?

Creepy Post Nuclear world indeed!

I would love to know which city it was filmed in, amazing driving shots at the beginning of that movie. I think the car chase was done best of all in the 1970s with those Ford Mustangs. It seems like Hollywood or the Music industry (New Metallica Album) aren't able to do good old fashioned expensive, difficult broad panormic shots like this of whole cities anymore.

Gee i would love to see this movie on the big screen, in all its glory with the soundtrack and roar of the Ford engine! The small screen simply cannot do such a work justice. Buffy the Vampire slayer seems to be all one gets nowadays.

Great flic if you get a chance to see it.
 

pete-rock

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Most of the movie themes mentioned in this thread are suburban. I suggest "Gridlock'd" starring Tim Roth and Tupac Shakur. They're two heroin addicts in Detroit (the movie was filmed in Detroit, I believe) who struggle to shake their addiction in their desolate surroundings.

Lots of shots of urban desolation and references to a crumbling government unable to provide the services/resources for those in need.

In a similar vein: "Fort Apache, the Bronx" and "Warriors".
 

Markitect

Cyburbian
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110
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pete-rock said:
...Detroit...

Lots of shots of urban desolation and references to a crumbling government unable to provide the services/resources for those in need.

On that same Detroit theme, one could also include the Robocop trilogy (and TV series), in which the corrupt and greedy private sector has attempted to simultaneously take control of the city's law enforcement and criminal activities...with promises of building a brand new city from the ground up.
 

donk

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I too saw Old School on the weekend.

I thought it was pretty funny that the main character, the guy from dazed and confused, was a real estate lawyer and never picked up on the conformity issues. Then again if he did we would not have seen the KY jelly wrestling scene, so I guess things worked out for the best.

My friends all looked at me when they started talking about zoning and laughed.
 

biscuit

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Not a movie but...

If anyone has watched "The Guardian" you will see lots of images of Pittsburgh and the cast on location here in the city. The dialoge is also peppered with references to landmarks, neighborhoods and people that probably only a local would get (because I 'm just now understanding most of them).

I'm just waiting on the showsfictional law firm of Fallon & Fallon to hire on a land use lawyer. I'd be happy to play the part.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
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An old western movie called 'Riding in the High Country' is a fairly accurate representation of an old mining town high in the mountains. Peopel got married in the best building in town, which was a brothel, and the prostitutes were the brides maids. The honeymoon sweet was the same room used to do business by the brothel! And the husbands usually ended up availing of prostitution on the same night as their wedding.

How come i actually believe it was like this in those mining villages? I compare it alot actually, to some college campuses nowadays, and the way that students behave. But i think there is a better solution, i think things could be different in my country. I am interested in the subject of designing for education and worked not too long ago on an apartment complex for students. But i was literally shocked by the attitude of the principle architect - he thought students were exactly the same kind of individuals as in the movie 'Riding in the High Country'.

It is really worrying when the main designer of college campuses has that low an opinion of young people. I suppose if you treat them like that, . . . what does one expect. Young people nowadays are expected more and more, to just dedicate their whole live span to a career and working. In my country today, none of the married/career oriented women are having children anymore. Most children are growing up in single mother situations. The average no. of children in 1.2, the lowest in the whole of the EU. I would like to believe there is a middle ground between mining town behaviour and the oposite extreme - career oriented non-child relationships.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
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137
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Has anyone here ever seen a film from 1998 called 'Thirst'?

I know that Los Angeles made alot of discisions about annexing the territory between it and Owen County water supply. This film examines a terrible situation where the City Water Engineer changes the filtration system from ALUM to another more modern compound and suddenly they have a disaster like Milwaukee on their hands. City is closed off by National Guard and the whole nine yards, water distribution by the army from backs of lorries - two bottles per person, with proof of residency in two forms of ID.

Another Planning movie, but i need someone to explain what city it is in - Fight Club - the house in the middle of nowhere.
 

garethace

Cyburbian
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137
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My lastest favourite planning movie: Bonnie and Clyde. Combines themes of ways people lived (sort of ram-shackle settler buildings of the depression era), the economics of the new world, and its effects on people and the environment. Ideas of the car, highways and private automobiles. Ideas of newspaper, media and 'heros created by papers'.

There is another movie like it, in examining the theme of the newspaper man - in B+W, cannot remember it though. Printing news on butchers paper etc, because the monopolists had tied up all the actual news paper stocks.

Similar to the movie, about the car designer/inventor guy who made 50 cars called Tuckers, with an Engine from Howard Hughes, but the Detroit three would not supply the steel.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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25,147
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Alfred Hitchcock's - Rear Window
On the Waterfront - filmed in Hoboken, NJ

then I used vivisimo to search for movies with urban planning themes and found under City in Film, 2 hits, the 2nd one
I could see most posters signing up for this class
sorry - not smart or talented enough to make the link work?

The City in Film, Mark S. Herwick, Portland State, summer 1995

I never took a summer class like that one, wish i had
 
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Belle

Cyburbian
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142
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A recent movie that dealt with some planning issues was Two Weeks Notice (with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant). She was a lawyer with a penchant for historical preservation and he was the developer she ends up working for (if I remember correctly). It's a rather cute romantic comedy with some great shots of NYC.
 
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