Friday. 15/3/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Life through a lens

Hollywood might be home to the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry but the popularity of documentaries is also helping to broaden the discussion about urbanism in Los Angeles’ scruffy Downtown. That’s the feeling, at least, at the Architecture and Design Film Festival, which began on Tuesday and runs until Sunday at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. The host building, a Greek-revival affair with marble walls and glass ceilings, is exactly the sort of treasure that’s been overlooked for years. Thankfully it’s now being given a new lease of life through clever programming and deft renovation.

Elsewhere, hospitality companies from Ace Hotels (which revamped a historic movie theatre) to the Nomad (a former bank, complete with a capacious subterranean vault), have brought footfall, guests and glamour to an area that many refused to visit for years. In a small way, this Architecture and Design Film Festival is doing something that Hollywood has long failed to achieve: turning a critical lens on a city in flux and documenting Downtown’s remarkable second act.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / USA

Greatest showman?

Yesterday former Texas congressman “Beto” O’Rourke announced that he will run as a candidate in the 2020 presidential election, bringing the number of Democrats in the race to 15. O’Rourke has a reputation for being a convincing speaker, which is a powerful tool for any hopeful. But Scott Lucas, professor of American studies at the UK’s University of Birmingham, believes that people want more than posturing. “O’Rourke’s got the spectacle but does he bring the substance?” he says. “This crowded field enables the Democrats to mark out the fact that they don’t just want four more years of a Trump-esque carnival. They realise that America is at a critical point right now and that playing to the galleries isn’t going to be enough in the next 12 months.”

Diplomacy / Canada and China

War paint

While China has embraced Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons and parka-maker Canada Goose, it seems less keen on the country’s folk art. Thirteen works by Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis were set to head to the Guangdong Museum of Art this spring but the exhibition has been halted by the government-run museum. Canadian officials believe that the exhibition is delayed, not cancelled, but Canada-China relations have been at fever pitch since December, when Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver. While there’s no formal explanation as to why the show has been put on hold, it seems that art has been caught in the crosshairs of a diplomatic dispute.

Image: Alamy

Transport / Paris

Subterranean smog

The Parisian Métro is in need of a clean-up: new research has revealed that the air in some parts of the city’s century-old underground-train network is more polluted than the streets above. A study by newspaper Le Parisien revealed that on the day the tests were conducted, the air on the platforms at La Défense (the worst-affected station) had 30 times more hazardous fine-particle matter than the air at street level. Many stations on the network were found to have much lower levels, particularly those along Line 1, where the rolling stock is relatively new. Clearly governments and transport authorities need to prioritise cleaner trains to help commuters breathe more easily.

Retail / Tokyo

Male orders

Tomorrow the Isetan Shinjuku Men’s Annex will reopen amid the Tokyo department store’s first major makeover in years. As well as the usual menswear staples (Raf Simons, Sacai and Thom Browne will all feature) the area will include an expanded men’s cosmetics counter for gents in need of a spruce. The store is also set to experiment with some flashy retail technology, including 3D digital modelling for made-to-order suits, shirts and shoes; the idea is that it will help customers make follow-up purchases online and enable staff to keep track of individuals’ spending habits. It’s hoped that Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings can integrate its online and offline businesses and reverse the decline of Japan’s ¥5.9trn (€47bn) department-store sector.

M24 / The Urbanist

Urban wildlife

This week we look at urban wildlife across the globe – and how people feel about it. Hear about kangaroos in Canberra, weasels in Cairo and even scorpions in São Paulo.

Film / Lithuania

Property Prospectus: Uzupis

Monocle Films heads to Vilnius to explore Uzupis. This creative and quirky corner of the Lithuanian capital is more than just a neighbourhood – it’s a mini-state.

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