A Spaghetti Western on Lean Urbanism

2015 ,    »  -   5 Comments
Ratings: 7.36/10 from 64 users.

What makes a good home? Filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen seeks to answer this question by taking viewers (and her family) on a tour of minimalized homes and other alternative living situations in the Southwestern United States in her feature-length documentary, A Spaghetti Western on Lean Urbanism. Through sweeping landscapes, personal interviews, and sweet family vignettes of her partner and two children, Dirksen questions the impact of building codes that are meant to protect individuals from physical harm but often have the secondary effect of limiting the growth of affordable housing.

Viewers are introduced to several "rule-bending builders" who find means of shelter through converted storage containers, durable tents, and even salvaged materials. Their idea is to counter the over-development and rising costs of city living by creating more sustainable solutions on their own, typically in desolate areas where codes are either unenforced or don't exist to begin with. The various do-it-yourself (DIY) types profiled throughout the film share a passion for creating affordable housing options near high-cost areas, and must often skirt the legalities of construction and code enforcement to do so.

The film focuses on communities like Arcosanti, an "urban laboratory" in the desert of central Arizona, and Marfa, Texas, a mecca not just for minimalist artists, but minimalists in general. A couple priced out of San Francisco invite Dirksen into their converted storage unit and Brad Kittel, the founder of Tiny Texas Houses, demonstrates the viability of reusable materials when building a home. His "pure salvage" philosophy not only counters over-development, it also benefits the overall environment by reducing waste. These are people that Dirksen describes as innovating too fast for the rules.

A Spaghetti Western on Lean Urbanism doesn't try to negate the issues of safety that building codes are meant to protect, but rather shines light on why members of these alternative living movements break the rules that they do, and how those rules could ultimately be altered to benefit society on a grander scale. In the digital age, where information and tutorials are just a mouse-click away, the overall DIY mentality has flourished in general, but perhaps it is the housing industry that may stand to benefit the most.

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5 Comments / User Reviews

  1. FollowTheFacts

    ...how on earth could this documentary get such a high score (7.24 when I typed this)...? – I won't score it since I "jump-watched" it...after seeing how excruciatingly stretched it seemed to be, but I stayed on certain segments, but even so, it was borderline unwatchable...almost two hours...?
    The subject matter is interesting, but was crushed....watch it if you have that much time to spare...

  2. Kansas Devil
  3. Kansas Devil

    An age old conflict between the innovative and the Stoddard.
    As for the documentary form, it did seem to have a bit too much filler and could have done a better job of capturing the wonder of the house designs and their locations. But the subject matter and the story was there.

  4. Reinis Miks
  5. Reinis Miks

    Im subscribed to Kirsten on youtube - she makes inspiring and down to detail videos. But the documentary is just a compilation of those videos and it felt very streched out. As mentioned in previous comments I jump watched it too. But if you like alternative/eco/ off grid type of buildings her channel is the perfect place for some inspiration. Also camera work is usually well done. Also, I didn`t get it why such a weird name for the documentary...

  6. David Calvert
  7. David Calvert

    I am extemely disappointed with this documentary. I was hoping this would be watchable and mildly interesting, it is neither. A true waste of time for the viewers. This is the first time I have left a comment after years of watching many documentaries and I feel obliged to give anyone that holds one moment of thier lives valuable to not attempt to view this atrocity.

  8. Nell Gardner
  9. Nell Gardner

    Instead of an overly-produced documentary, it felt like going along for the ride on a producer's road trip. Interesting perspective.

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