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Pulling Weeds From the Suburban Dream

A review of Radiant City

…”Eighty percent of everything ever built in North America has been built in the last 50 years and most of it is brutal, depressing, ugly, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading,” the gadfly James Howard Kunstler observes, and this is exactly what we see as Joey Santiago’s hypnotic loops of guitar noise shimmer across the soundtrack: identical houses reaching to the horizon, where cell phone towers have replaced trees and parking lots have replaced green fields.
…As one talking head observes, the critique of suburbia is well known to everyone, even those who choose to move there, and “Radiant City” can’t get below the surface. Watching people move into these sterile communities may be like watching lemmings race to their destruction, but surely something is driving them that goes a little deeper than the explanations offered by this film. And the solutions offered by the documentary are especially poor: one “expert” proposes putting apartments in abandoned shopping centers in order to reclaim retail space for residential living, taking it for granted that this would be a great thing. It’s humbling to realize that modern man can build a better cell phone or a smaller computer but we still can’t seem to figure out something as basic as how to build a working village.

NY Sun

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