Extreme Modernism on the Big Screen

Extreme Modernism on the Big Screen

Natalie Espinosa
Apr 10, 2012

This week I had the opportunity to watch El Hombre de al Lado (The Man Next Door, 2009), an Argentinean film that takes place mostly in Casa Curutchet, a house built by Le Corbusier in La Plata, Argentina, and completed in 1953. The film is centered around an argument between an industrial designer who lives in Casa Curutchet and a sunlight-seeking neighbor who begins to create a window in his own property that would give him a direct view into Casa Curutchet.

Poking fun at the oh-so-sophisticated designer's life and its deficiencies, the film focuses greatly on the building and its interiors. It is a treat for those of us who haven't had the opportunity to visit this building in person, with many scenes taking place in the garage, the entrance ramps, the balconies, interior corridors that look down onto a tree that grows in the middle of the house, and, of course, the living room which the offending new window would look onto.

Although not so extreme, the film reminded me of Mon Oncle (My Uncle, 1958), a movie directed by Jacques Tati that also pokes fun at extreme modernity, including a modern house with modern furniture and appliances and juxtaposing it with a more traditional, warmer and more human lifestyle.

Which of course made me think of another movie with a sarcastic depiction of extreme modernity, Sleeper (1973) by Wood Allen, in which a man is cryogenically frozen in 1973 and revived 200 years later. The house featured in the movie is called Sculptured House, designed by Charles Deaton and built west of Denver, Colorado.

Can you recommend other movies that deal with modern lifestyles, architecture and design?

(Images: El Hombre de al Lado via www.acontracorrientefilms.com; Casa Crutchet by qepd via www.panoramio.com)

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