Monthly Archives: June 2008

Quantum of Solace Trailer

Here’s the new trailer for Quantum of Solace (aka the Bond movie with the title that makes everyone snicker but which has actually kind of grown on me).

I’ve said way to much about Bond over the years for it to be worth any detailed comment, but it is kind of cool. I love that finally we have some linkage between the films, in a way we haven’t had since the sixties. This looks like it could be the Bond revenge story that should have, but didn’t, follow the best Bond movie of all, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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Stan Winston and the Monsters You Can See

While I was on holiday a couple of big names passed away. One was Cyd Charise, but I’d never try to pass myself off as qualified to write about her: I did enjoy Jaime Weinman’s commentary though, with some great YouTube clips, here.

Special effects artist Stan Winston, however, has his fingerprints all over the post-seventies Hollywood that I find so interesting. The market for special effects is so big now that nobody can really stamp their name on it the way old-school artists like Willis O’Brien or Ray Harryhausen did, but Winston was as close as we had to that kind of iconic effects artist in the past few decades. He was also the last of a breed, in that he was a master of physical creature effects – achieved through make-up, puppetry, robotics, and the like – in an age where such creatures are increasingly being done by computer. His career paralleled another great effects artist, Rick Baker, but where Baker was probably best known for make-up effects (as with his work on all those films where Eddie Murphy plays multiple characters) and had a sideline in creature work, Winston’s emphasis was the other way round.

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Ah, Phuket

Various shots from my trip to Phuket. Click through on any for a better look.

Incidentally, these were taken with my old Panasonic TZ-15. This is a big zoom camera pitched at tourists, and the slightly disappointing picture quality on these shots was a big factor in my investment in my trusty LX-3. I think the improvement in my later shots speaks for itself.

Still on that Damn Boat

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Boston Crazy

Originally published in the Age Green Guide, 12 June 2008.

Boston Legal, the strange hybrid of legal issues-based drama and comedy that recently returned to Channel 7 for its fourth series, walks a familiar tightrope for its creator David E. Kelley. Even at their best, Kelley’s shows somehow straddle the fine line that separates the very good TV from the very bad, and Boston Legal is no exception.

The show takes all the hallmarks of earlier Kelley productions – which include Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, Boston Public and The Practice – and takes them even further to the extreme. Kelley’s previous shows have been notable for his fondness for outrageous, almost hysterical plots: one episode of Picket Fences centred on a cow giving birth to a human baby; the high school drama Boston Public featured a teacher who used a gun to subdue his students; and even The Practice (ostensibly the prestige drama on Kelley’s resume) had its lawyers stalked by a serial killer dressed as a nun.

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Because We all Remember How the Last Movie I Posted the Trailer for Turned Out

Baz Luhrmann’s Australia hadn’t really been on my radar, despite its profile. I think it was partly the stink of self-indulgence that hung over the project, as well as my increasing reservations about Lurhmann’s style. I enjoyed Strictly Ballroom without loving it, and Romeo + Juliet really impressed me, but by the time of Moulin Rouge I thought Luhrmann’s self-conscious technique had become a liability.

However, the appearance of the first trailer on the internet has put this right at the top of my list. Luhrmann – as best as we can tell – appears to have limited his stylised approach to the framing story and gone for a more old-school epic style of shooting for the rest of the film. I realise a trailer can make anything look good, but damn: this movie looks absolutely gorgeous. We never really have had a really good Australian classical western, despite a few attempts and the fact that the genre is so suited to being transposed here (it isn’t cool to say this, but Man From Snowy River probably got closest). Luhrmann just might have cracked it.

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The Auditor-General’s Report: Beyond the Headlines

The tabling in Parliament on 7 May of the Victorian Auditor-General’s report into the functioning of Victoria’s Planning Land Use and Development Framework on was accompanied by a splash of media headlines that picked up on the most alarming of its findings. Subsequent events have only increased the timeliness of the report, since its negative findings about the performance of local government have no doubt helped to support – in popular perception, even if not by design – the government’s recent decision to strip some planning control over activity centres from councils. The popular media reports on the audit strongly picked up on the theme of serous dysfunction at local government level presented in the report’s findings. This was an important aspect of the Auditor-General’s conclusions, but the audit also turned up some other interesting nuggets.

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