The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

January 12, 2017
by Dan
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Brutalist Dreams

At the New York Review of Books, American architecture critic Martin Filler casts a critical eye over a slew of new books on Brutalist architecture:  In addition to its echoes of art brut—Jean Dubuffet’s name for outsider art—New Brutalism was … Continue reading

June 2, 2016
by Dan
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Working for the Building

In a long and fascinating interview with the Ballardian, Ben Wheatley talks about J.G. Ballard and his adaptation of High-Rise: Initially, I really enjoyed the cult appeal of [Ballard’s] work, or more specifically the counter-cultural aspect. His books, particularly Crash and … Continue reading

May 20, 2016
by Dan
2 Comments

A Dirge for a New World

Andrew F. Sullivan, author of ultra-violent urban noir WASTE, reviews Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of High-Rise by J.G. Ballard for TIFF.Net: Wheatley and Ballard point to a pattern—a dissolution of social order that cannot be prevented by technology or progress. Even … Continue reading

April 12, 2014
by Dan
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Skydweller: A Portrait of London

Skydweller combines over 5,000 photographs of London taken from the top of Cromwell Tower, one of the three residential towers in the city’s Barbican Estate. The short film is accompanied by music specially composed by Tom Rosenthal and poetry by … Continue reading

November 21, 2013
by Dan
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The Absent Column

I was just in Chicago this past weekend, so I was really interested in this short documentary about the battle to preserve the former Prentice Women’s Hospital in the city. Designed by modern architect Bertrand Goldberg, the building — composed of a … Continue reading

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