Radiant City is a CBC Newsworld The Passionate Eye program about suburban sprawl.. The theatrical version won a Genie for best documentary. That is quite surprising considering the ending.
Radiant City looks at urban sprawl through the eyes of the Moss family. The kids hate their new town and have a jaundiced, realistic eye. Dad gives his point of view mainly during the long commute home. Mom, who wanted a brand new house in the burbs, complains about her teeth tingling when she drives past a cell phone tower.
Thus radiant city is not just a description of the place but of its toxicity. A toxicity that becomes more and more evident as the residents and the Moss family members talk about their experience.
I just about died laughing when Toronto urban designer Ken Greenberg says it is just about impossible to recreate the small town in the suburbs. I totally lost it when Beverly Sandalack, yup, another urban planner asks "Why can't we walk anywhere anymore?"
If you want a small town with narrow tree-lined streets and stores with people living upstairs you have to build one. You do not create row upon row of cookie-cutter bungalows and an entire community of ranch houses.
That's why urban planner is an oxymoron. You have to wonder what these people are smoking or how mind numbing blue print fumes are.
The one weak point of this movie, or the screening copy I received, is the talking heads are not identified. This is annoying because some of the heads are really just bobble heads while others really say something interesting.
One guy, who is smart enough to identify himself and his books (plug plug) is James Howard Kunstler. His take on suburbia is dead on vicious but accurate.
I am a little peeved at him though because I was thinking of chain link fence for the yard but his view of chain link as a reminder of Riot in Cell Block B is making me rethink the option.
The radiant city may sure look pretty in theory but it really is ugly in reality.