>>> Citizen Jane: Battle For The City

DOCS D: Matt Tyrnauer. U.S. 92 min..

DOCS D: Matt Tyrnauer. U.S. 92 min. Sep 18, 8:30 pm, Scotiabank 10. Rating: NNNNN

The key to this excellent documentary about journalist and activist Jane Jacobs in New York City is the way it visually expresses the ideas of her groundbreaking book The Death And Life Of Great American Cities.

Director Tynauer digs up a whack of archival footage showing the demolition of neighbourhoods, the wholesale removal of populations and massive projects that led to profound alienation of communities in poverty, all in pursuit of the popular modernist ideas of the early 30s, and tracks Jacobs’s activism fighting the agenda of powerful city planner Robert Moses, especially his Lower Manhattan Expressway.

Along the way, Tynauer vividly demonstrates the difference between thriving, bustling neighbourhoods and the barren landscapes of the projects Moses built. A sequence that uses examples from nature to show how what looks chaotic actually has its own order – one of Jacobs’s essential themes – is really smart.

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