Slyly Funny and Sharp Critique of Mall Cultures/Globalization
I'm in the film (along with my son, Justin) as a critic of malls, so my review is hardly objective--but I hope still will have value. My role was to argue that malls are "sacred places" that can do spiritual damage to us and the environment if we don't pay attention to how they work (my role was based on the argument in my recent book Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Spaces: Putting God in Place).
That said, I'm delighted by how the film turned out in its full 78 minute version. Malls R Us deftly (and not unsympathetically) represents the intentions of mall developers, only to then skewer their (spiritual) pretensions on the petards of their own grandiose rationalizations. The images and interviews with the guys at dead malls.com are a clear counterweight to the argument by developers that malls are "eternal," or will go on forever, and the scene with developer Rubin Stahl at Cabela's is pure satire unfiltered by any commentary other than the developer's own words and actions. The film's second half also presents an important counter to easy Thomas Friedman like accounts of flat-earth globalization. The final scenes with developer Jerde and team imagining a mall based on the Tower of Babel for Dubai is theologically rich material that I simply couldn't resist commenting on--although the folly of the ambition nearly speaks for itself!
All in all, Helene Klodawsky's slyly funny voice-overs, and visually stunning depiction of both mall splendor and squalor, is well worth a watch. Be sure to see the full 78 minute version. As a previous reviewer notes,the short version was apparently chopped up pretty badly.
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