Dec, 8, 2011,
1:51 PM

Apartments in Film

The Gene Siskel Film Center’s series, Designs for Living: The Apartment Genre, will have a final screening tomorrow and Tuesday, December 13. It’s “The Science of Sleep,” a 2006 French film written and directed by Michael Gondry (director, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

The whimsical movie stars Jane Birkin’s daughter and an apartment, among other characters. Considering the simplicity of the eponymous Hermès Birkin bag and the boundless visual creativity in each scene, we thought the film was uniquely Miesian. However, there is no Birkin bag in it.

But there will be someone intelligent to contextualize the film at Tuesday’s 6 p.m. screening; Professor Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Director of Gender Studies at Notre Dame University and author of The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945 to 1975 will give a lecture.

The Science of Sleep, directed by Michael Gondry

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Dec, 7, 2011,
1:47 PM

On Mies & Gunsmoke

Much of Mies’ personal life remains a mystery, but we do know one of his loves was Gunsmoke—the long-running western starring James Arness. It’s a charming detail because the prime time drama seems very un-Miesian. The ramshackle wooden saloons and sheriff stations of Dodge City couldn’t be more different from the sleek steel skyscrapers Mies built in more worldly cities.

But if you actually watch Gunsmoke, you’ll see Mies’ love for it doesn’t have to be a contradiction. First of all, it’s good. Sharply written, with strong characters played by strong actors, it has all you can ask from a TV show. It makes sense this show was able to stay on the air for twenty years.

Besides, beyond the aesthetic differences, the logic at play in Gunsmoke is actually quite Miesian. Each episode had a fully developed plot in which the four main characters participated—Arness’s moral Marshal Dillon, the sassy saloon owner Kitty Russell, the no-nonsense Doc Adams, and the goofy deputy sheriff Chester Goode—the metaphorical steel, brick, glass, and concrete of Gunsmoke’s repertoire. In every episode, Dillon and his friends stood by their values of decency in a confused society. And while the show tackled diverse issues from domestic abuse to the death penalty, it always took the formula it set up for itself and executed it well. In doing so, Gunsmoke ushered the Old West right into modern television. Mies would never be caught wearing a Texas tie, but with his own Western values, maybe he found a kindred spirit in Marshal Dillon.

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Dec, 5, 2011,
1:06 PM

CREATION/DESTRUCTION

S. R. Crown Hall’s interior during finals week at Illinois Institute of Technology (architecture students at work).

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Nov, 30, 2011,
12:16 PM

Living in Lafayette Park

Check out this video, which gives us a peek into the mid-century-centric style of two Lafayette Park, Detroit dwellers. It also points to the use of outdoor space in Mies’ Lemke House and Lafayette Park, citing the Berlin house as an inspiration for the work he later did in the United States.

Photo by Christian Unverzagt

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