Documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit has carved out a nifty niche by focusing our eyes on the everyday stuff we either don’t see or take for granted. Helvetica, his first foray into the realm of public space, used the ubiquitous font to consider the insidious arts of graphic design and mass communication. Hustwit turned his cool gaze from print to products in Objectified, supplanting 1950s concepts such as planned obsolescence, conspicuous consumption, and consumer electronics with contemporary notions of environmentalism, identification, and technology. In his new doc, Urbanized, Hustwit expands his perspective far beyond the magazine ad and the kitchen appliance to encompass the design and planning of major cities. Out of our sight, frets the filmmaker, big ideas and big plans are making their way from drawing table to 100-story reality (and worse). Hustwit’s previous films were magnets for graphic designers, advertising types, architects, and other “creative” professionals. They’ll be back for this one, even if its concerns are directed more toward laypeople.
Nov. 4-10, 2011