It must be the result of all my years of watching PBS; I love costume dramas and documentaries, as evidenced by my current Netflix choices: "Young Victoria" and "Helvetica." The former had a great cast, fabulous clothes and lovely gardens. And I am enough of an Anglophile that I knew the moment I saw those glorious lavender parterres that Ham House was where the scenes of Kensington Palace were actually filmed. Some gardens are too individual to be stand-ins.
Much as I enjoyed "Victoria," it couldn't compare with Gary Hustwit's "Helvetica," an independent film about typography, design and global visual culture, with a cast of glamorous metropolitan locations (Amsterdam, Zurich, London), famed designers (Neville Brody, Massimo Vignelli and David Carson), and, of course, the classic Helvetica typeface. Some call it ubiquitious. Corporate. Democratic. Socialist. Boring. War-mongering. A lot of folks have a love-hate relationship with Helvetica, making for a lively film. If you read, if you blog, or text or tweet, or live in today's visual culture, this movie is a must.
I should point out that I did take away one thought that the filmmaker probably did not intend: why were there only two women interviewed? Especially as designer Paula Scher and writer Leslie Savan added immeasurably to the story. A personal quibble with a fascinating cultural document.
Thanks to one of my favorite Madison bloggers (and font designer) — Outside the Line — for drawing my attention to "Helvetica," as well as "Objectified," another great Gary Hustwit film, about the people who "re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis."