2012, Movies

Coast Modern (2012, Mike Bernard, Gavin Froome)

This is a pretty but quite brief documentary about modernist domestic architecture on the West Coast of North America. If you like The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes or similar shows, you may like this. This is a lot more philosophical, as you might expect, but there are similar amounts of house porn.

There are plenty of cool houses to look at in this film. There are also houses that are pretty damn ugly – both modernist houses and more recent houses – so you can either enjoy the houses or be outraged by them, whatever works.

There are, of course, lots of talking heads. Some of them have really interesting things to say about modernism and architecture in general, and some of them get a little too pretentious for my tastes. (I mean, I should expect this, as it’s a film about architecture.) Certainly there are plenty of thought-provoking ideas to accompany the house porn.

My biggest criticism isn’t the waxing philosophical. I really don’t mind that and sometimes enjoy it. My biggest criticism is the rather formless nature of the film. It jumps around in location and time (the latter at least until the end) and it doesn’t feel super well organized. Moreover, there’s not enough about the featured houses, I would say.

And that really isn’t a surprise because this is an incredibly short film. It must have been made for TV or something. The DVD I got actually had outtakes that totaled the length of the film, which is something I’ve never seen outside of a special edition. Had I more time, I would have watched them, I guess, but it would have been better if they had been integrated into the film. (Again, there must have been some kind of length restriction. It’s the only thing that makes sense.)

Still, it’s worth your time despite its brief length and its formlessness.


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