Malls R Us | Chicago Reader

Malls R Us

Love them or hate them, shopping malls are integral to America’s social fabric. Retail palaces evoke cathedrals in their promise of renewal and community, notes theologian Jon Pahl, and their influence is widening. This perceptive 2008 documentary, equal parts ideas and eye candy, tracks the rise of enclosed malls from their invention by Austrian emigre Victor Gruen, a socialist utopian, to their export overseas. On site at his latest Dubai project, which devotes one million square feet to consumerism, architect Eric Kuhne rhapsodizes that mall construction will go on forever; he’s followed by a dissolve to an abandoned Ohio complex featured on deadmalls.com. Helene Klodawsky directs with panache, making a sound argument against “confusing the good life with the world of goods.” In English and subtitled French, Japanese, Polish, Arabic, and Hindi. 79 min.

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