Guest Butler recommends Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of acting as Guest Butler over at Head Butler where Jesse Kornbluth champions delightful books, music, movies, and the occasional product.  You may have heard Jesse on NPR; he’s an author/editor/writer obsessed with “New Stuff that’s actually exciting and Great Stuff that’s been overlooked”.  I stepped briefly into his shoes to share my take on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, a c. 1948 movie for today, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Grab some popcorn and dig in.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast

DVD recommendation: Kitchen Stories

Swedish film directed by Bent Hamer

Set in the post-war 1940’s, Folke, a Swedish efficiency expert, observes the kitchen habits of Isak, a Norwegian bachelor farmer, as part of a study run by Sweden’s Home Research Institute. Malmberg, the scientist left in charge of the study, explains to his charges that the goal is to “rationalize the kitchen and the placement of the stations” to suit Norwegian bachelors. The rules of the study require that the observers live in trailers outside their subjects’ homes. They are to conduct their research (each atop a tall, pedestal chair) in their hosts’ kitchens for a period of days/weeks without interacting with their subjects. Such is the quirky premise of this delightful film.

Hamer, the director, is well aware of his audience as yet another observer in the mix, and creates a film that rewards the attentive.

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DVD recommendation: Sketches of Frank Gehry

Directed by Sydney Pollack

I haven’t been much of a fan of Frank Gehry’s, so when I heard about this film I didn’t run out to see it. Then I read an item in the Design Observer referring to The New Yorker piece about the “F--- Frank Gehry” T-shirts, and I became intrigued. It turns out that Gehry has a sense of humor about himself. Through an unlikely series of connections, the “F--- Frank Gehry” T-shirt, made by Barnaby Harris (who launched his T-shirt business with “F--- Yoga” T-shirts), found its way to Gehry who wore it to the office, to the gym, and then started ordering them as gift items in all sizes and colors. Bravo. I decided to rent the DVD.

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DVD recommendation: My Father, the Genius

Directed and Produced by Lucia Small

By contrast with Nathaniel Kahn’s film about his long-deceased father, architectural-great Louis I. Kahn, filmmaker Lucia Small is able to tell the story of her architect father, Glen Howard Small, while he is still alive, able, and all too willing to speak for himself. In fact he has asked Lucia to tell the world about his work. His specific request was that she write his biography, presumably once he’s passed on.

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DVD recommendation: My Architect, a Son's Journey

Directed and Produced by Nathaniel Kahn

This documentary featuring and directed by Nathaniel Kahn explores Nathaniel’s journey to learn more about his father, world-renown architect Louis I. Kahn, whom he barely knew. We learn from Nathaniel’s narration that when he was eleven, his father was found dead of a heart attack at the age of seventy-three in the men’s room of New York’s Pennsylvania Station, bankrupt and alone.

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