Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Eccentric living

Doc proves modern buildings can be gorgeous, airy

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This painstakingly elegant documentary makes a point of distinguishing institutional modern buildings from an array of gorgeous, airy and often eccentric living spaces off the West Coast, from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

Speaking as one who had to do time in a windowless modernist junior high school, I appreciate the distinction.

I have long since got over an aversion to modernism, but anyone with any lingering distaste or resentment (and I'm thinking of you, Bruce Middle School alumni) may want to check out Coast Modern for proof that modernist architecture can actually make some lucky residents feel closer to nature, as opposed to removed from it entirely.

This is the kind of doc the wags have dubbed "design porn" and the label applies here. Opening shots of a gorgeous Vancouver abode (featuring a proud owner playing with his two young sons in this naturally lit, garden-like habitat) utilize the slo-mo, shallow focus tricks of some of your finer lifestyle commercials, but to the desired effect of effectuating desire.

Fortunately, co-directors Gavin Froome and Michael Bernard eventually get to the more serious business of discussing West Coast modernism focusing on the work and viewpoints of architects such as James Steele, Ray Kappe, and Dion Neutra.

Canadian writer Douglas Coupland offers up an interesting dichotomy involving modernism. For our parents, modernist design with its flat simplicity, was the look of the future. To the children of our parents, it has become a thing of retro-infused nostalgia.

But the best in modernist design offers a harmonious union of structure and nature. The left coast tour offered here is the equivalent of a long relaxing bath in back issues of Architectural Digest.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Coast Modern

Directed by Gavin Froome and Michael Bernard

Cinematheque.

G

56 minutes

3 1/2 stars out of five

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2012 D3

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