Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The House of Tomorrow (movie review)

Nana, a Fuller fan, is sheltering her ward (her grandson actually) in an almost-literal bubble, a multi-faceted domicile based on the geometry of an icosahedron:  a 1970s classic geodesic dome one-off, mostly wood, and semi-deep in a quasi-dark forest. Cue "she's some kind of witch" music. 

Per Education Automation, the place is wired (pre internet) to "in-cast" (screen) the Bucky stuff 24/7, so both Nana (the guardian) and her ward (main protagonist) are by this time thoroughly brainwashed (Nana has been into Bucky a long time), but without being too dysfunctional, a testament to the curriculum's holism.

The dome is marvelous and well-maintained and both enjoy a high standard of living.  The movie viewer is quickly introduced to Bucky's alternative (aka "parallel") universe, with its own solutions to the problems of transportation, shelter, and social relationships (we use a different world map in Buckyverse, to visualize our global predicament).  The viewer thereby partakes of a bit of the brainwashing, to the point of gentle claustrophobia (think "laughing gas" -- it's a comedy).

Tourists come to see what the house of tomorrow might look like (they all live in the houses of today).  To the young boy, these tourists represent the great outside world beyond the granny matrix, full of people the grandson's own age, some oppositely sexed, all differently programmed.  He recognizes he could learn a lot from these aliens.

Although home schooled, our hero has a bicycle and frequents hardware stores.  He's not a prisoner, except of his own conscience, and is free to leave.

He feels the natural urge for companionship and adventure and ends up landing a gig as a geometry tutor in one of the tourist houses.  Thanks to his STEM-intensive upbringing, he knows his "Mr. Euclid" (as Fuller referred to him), clearly way better than the more humanities oriented dad (which explains why a tutor is appropriate). The movie does not really get into Dr. Fuller's alternative unit of volume, as that'd take us too far off on a tangent.

They enjoy pretty good living standards in suburbia too (including top notch health care), with semi-private rooms for the siblings and a den for the single dad, ample leisure time.  The single mom is a heavy drinker and TV watcher (the dad has custody of the kids), but is friendly and fun.  She helps enable the final party with a donation of alcohol.

Beyond a lot of drinking, the film stays away from the weed economy.  Prohibition was still only partially rolled back, back then. Although police get involved, it's to break up the loud party (on what pretext again? -- lots of citizens were freely enjoying their right to assembly), and not to bust any otherwise law-abiding Lutherans for weed.

No one is sent to a for-profit "Grunch prison" ("Grunch" was a Bucky term, and stood for a dystopian post-nation-states global conglomerate, controlling all the money, that stages a lot of TV shows, including many with nationalistic programming, such as shocking, awesome wars).

The kids pack into state-approved mosh pits and express their rebelliousness in safe controlled ways.

To my ears, the Bucky sound bites on the videos were dubbed in.  What I heard was someone imitating Fuller's voice, saying the kinds of things he said.  Am I wrong?  Was that a permissions issue?  Was the Buckminster Fuller Institute (not of Minnesota) involved?

When it's time to really party, the dome interior is certainly the more inviting. Neither a suburban home, nor a church basement social hall, was as suitable a venue as grandma's bewitching house, for the new punk band's debut. The Rash.  The geometry tutoring was also about practicing chords, recapitulating that age-old synergy betwixt music and math, so appreciated by the Pythagoreans.

The less sheltered geometry tutor and his death-defying tourist friend express their anxieties and desires in an authentic and culturally approved manner.  The police arrive and help catalyze a new bond between the sixties dad and his punk son, as both show similarly defiant tendencies.  A new (vector) equilibrium is being established.  The two cultures have been bridged, and healthy circulation established.

That the Bucky stuff is actually punk-friendly comes as a heartwarming realization at the end.  Good movie. I saw it as the second movie in a double feature, with Fire first.