Anybody who's interested in urbanism needs to go to see Le Joli Mai (the Lovely Month of May), a whirlwind 1963 documentary about life in Paris (final screening tonight at Northwest Film Forum).
Featuring interviews with everyday Parisians—suits, the working class, students, unionists, young, old, black, white, women, men—at cafes, tenaments, parks, downtown, empty lots, shops, construction sites, and fancy parties (though, curiously, never down in the Paris Metro) ... the energy of hope and angst, 50 years on, cannot be contained. (Man, I wonder what happend to the young soldier, interviewed alongside his young bride, who was being shipped off to Algeria in a week.)
It’s doused in 1960s stuff—Marxism, colonialism, and racial politics, with French agit-philosophe such as: "We tend to forget that the lowest proletariat in a colonizing country always has a sub-proletariat from the colonized country. And this reality outlasts conolization."
However—and most acutely with its other 1960s artifact, Jane Jacobs planning—the connect to today is overwhelming. The interview with two intellectual architect/developers in a city brownfield talking about density, housing prices, and building an urban-forest combo paradise is only one great example.
Two others are the show-stopping, dance floor scene and the finale list of city data and statistics, which reiterate the point that the city planner and the DJ are the same. They both want it to last forever.